Toyota Tacoma: Air Intake Reviews and How to Install

A simple swap can make all the difference.

By Jennifer Heuertz - February 1, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota Tacoma (1996-2015).

Air filters protect your engine from contaminants, allowing it to breathe easier. Changing your air filter on a regular basis helps enhance performance and efficiency, as well as extend your engine's life. If you drive on dirty or dusty roads, or notice a drop in performance or gas mileage, you may even want to replace it sooner than Toyota recommends. There really isn't a good reason not to, as changing your air filter is one of the simplest and least expensive maintenance projects you can undertake. Keep reading to learn how to replace your air filter, and choose one that's right for you.

Table of Contents

How to Replace Your Air Filter

Toyota Tacoma How to Install Air Filter

Materials Needed

  • Screwdriver or socket set (if necessary)
  • Replacement air filter
  • Plastic trim removal tool (optional)

Step 1 – Locate air filter assembly

Lift the hood and locate the air filter assembly, which is attached to the side of the engine cover. Unfasten the clips (or use a screwdriver or socket to remove the mounting fasteners).

Figure 1. Unfasten the air filter housing clips.

Step 2 – Remove the filter

Pull the filter housing away from the engine cover and remove the filter. If it is stuck, you can use a plastic trim panel tool to pry it out.

Figure 2. Lift the air filter housing to remove the filter.

Step 3 – Clean your reusable filter

If you are reinstalling a reusable filter, clean and, if applicable, oil it.

Figure 3. Clean your reusable filter before reinstalling it.

Step 4 – Install the filter

Install your new or cleaned air filter into the housing, replace the housing, and then secure the fasteners.

Featured Videos

  • K&N Cold Air Intake Installation

  • Changing Air Filter

Air Filters Review

A worn out air filter can really hinder performance on your Tacoma by starving the engine of the oxygen it needs. Without the proper amount of oxygen, your engine can't burn the fuel as efficiently as it needs to. This can have negative side effects, including loss of power and loss of gas mileage. Replace your stock filter with one of these options for increased efficiency and long-lasting durability (or go with a FRAM for a decent quality disposable option).

Please note that the prices listed here are average for the range of models covered in this article (1996-2015).

$55 $40 $58 $85 $20



Both Available

Dry Dry
Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Filtration Rate
N/A Up to 99% Over 99% 99.2% N/A
Scheduled Maintenance
50,000 miles 50,000 miles 15,000-50,000 miles 10,000-15,000 miles 12,000 miles
1 million miles Limited Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime N/A
Best Quality: Airaid

Best Value: FRAM


Price – $55

Dry/Oiled – Oiled

Cleanable – Yes

Filtration Rate – N/A

Scheduled Maintenance – 50,000 miles

Warranty – 1 million miles

Probably one of the most common aftermarket filters on the market, K&N is definitely a step above the OEM disposable paper filters. The oil on the filter helps attract dirt and dust down to around five microns in size and keeps it from entering your system. In addition, the filter is higher flowing, which means your engine can get the oxygen it needs easier. K&N rates this filter as having a million-mile lifespan, as long as it's properly cleaned and re-oiled every 30 to 50k miles. The downside to having an oiled filtered is you need to take care not to over oil it, otherwise you can dirty the mass air flow sensor, causing problems. Recommended for anyone looking for an upgrade over OEM who doesn't mind taking the time to properly clean and oil it.


Price – $40

Dry/Oiled – Dry

Cleanable – Yes

Filtration Rate – Up to 99%

Scheduled Maintenance – 50,000 miles

Warranty – Limited Lifetime

Still an upgrade from OEM, these filters cost a little less than the higher-end, but should still perform well. The fact that they don't need to be oiled is a plus. Recommended if you want a higher-grade filter without all the maintenance of an oiled filter.


Air Raid Air Filter

Price – $58

Dry/Oiled – Both Available

Cleanable – Yes

Filtration Rate – Over 99%

Scheduled Maintenance – 15,000-50,000 miles

Warranty – Lifetime

The Airaid brand in this comparison ranks a bit higher than K&N because they come in both dry and oiled versions, providing more options. On top of that, Airaid filters have a higher filtration rate and can pick up particles down to two microns in size. Both the dry and oiled versions of these filters are cleanable, which means you can buy one, clean it every 15 to 50k miles, and never have to replace it. Like the K&N, the initial investment is a bit higher than getting a disposable, but overtime it will pay for itself and end up saving you money. Recommended for those who want a high quality, higher flowing replacement that they'll only have to buy once.


Price – $85

Dry/Oiled – Dry

Cleanable – Yes

Filtration Rate – 99.2%

Scheduled Maintenance – 10,000-15,000 miles

Warranty – Lifetime

These aFe filters are the most pricey of the bunch, but they're reusable and come with a lifetime warranty. Plus, they aren't oiled, so maintenance is as simple as tapping and vacuuming the filter. Recommended if you're willing to pay more for great performance combined with easy maintenance.


Price –$20

Dry/Oiled – Dry

Cleanable – No

Filtration Rate – N/A

Scheduled Maintenance – 12,000 miles

Warranty – N/A

These filters are cheap and disposable. They do the job, and require zero maintenance. Recommended if you want the cheapest, easiest option.

Pro Tip

The filter that you use is only one part of your truck's intake system. There are different types of material (paper and cotton, generally), different filtration methods, and even different types of intakes. Some are better at making horsepower while others are better suited to making your engine bay look good. Aftermarket intakes are generally an inexpensive performance modification, too. Regardless, it's a good idea to get familiar with your options if you plan on changing your air filter soon.

Learn more about Performance Modifications.

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