The Best Car Air Purifier and Ionizer in 2020
If you’re looking for a good car air purifier to eliminate airborne allergens and odors, prevent fatigue and improve air quality in your vehicle, this page has a detailed review of the top air purifiers for cars and why they are recommended.
Also ahead, important things to look out for and avoid with a car ionizer, why ozone air fresheners are not recommended and how some features actually decrease the effectiveness of your air filters inside your vehicle.
Quick Comparison of the Top Car Air Purifiers
If you’re short on time, here is a list of the best car ionizers and auto air filters in 2020:
- WYND Essential Smart Air Cleaner — Generates 9 liters of purified air per second; highest air cleaning to size ratio of any vehicle air purifier; runs cord-free for up to 8 hours with a single USB charge; easily fits into your car’s cup holder and highly portable; powerful air filter you can take anywhere.
- NIOSS 4.0 Plug-In Ionic Vehicle Purifier — Plugs into your car’s 12-volt power supply; healthy negative ion generation of 5,600,000 pcs/cm3; safe ozone of less than 0.05 ppm; 2 USB charge points for phone charging; very low price.
- AutoWit Portable Air Filter — True HEPA, activated carbon, antimicrobial nano-silver and ionizer producing 8 million ions pcs/cm3; detects poor air quality and adapts its fan speed; fits in vehicle cup holders; 35 dB quiet; USB-powered and portable for car and travel use.
These automotive air purifiers are chosen after many hours of detailed research, reading technical specifications and contacting manufacturers.
Read on if you’d like to learn more about the pros and cons of each of these models and why they were selected.
Why You Need a Vehicle Air Cleaner
The air quality inside your car can be particularly bad according to research, with harmful pollutants such as ultra-fine particles, volatile organic compounds, aromatic hydrocarbons, carbonyls and microbes identified as the primary contaminants inside vehicle cabin air.
You can open a window if you are driving in the countryside, but try that on a busy freeway, or stuck in traffic in the city, and you’ll likely be exposed to nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust fumes, ground level ozone and PM 2.5 pollution.
These airborne toxins damage your health, irritate your eyes and throat and can lead to tiredness and dangerous lapses in concentration while driving. Clearly air pollution within your car or truck is a personal safety issue.
An effective air purifier for your car can combat poor air quality inside your vehicle by filtering out particulate matter and other harmful pollutants. Extra features like healthy negative ion generation and activated carbon to absorb gases are also worth looking for.
This detailed car air purifier review will cover the best HEPA air filters for vehicles, auto ionizers and advanced automotive air cleaners available for healthier air while driving.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Your Car or Truck
Air cleaning solutions for vehicles tend to utilize either negative ions, ozone or fan-powered filter technologies like HEPA. Occasionally activated carbon and UV/photocatalyst sanitizers are also used.
While each of these can clean the environment in your car in their own way, only true negative ion generators can offer the many health benefits of increased negative ions in the air you breathe.
More common though, are car plug in air purifiers that use ozone as their primary air cleaning method. This can present certain health issues though, particularly for people who drive for long periods like truck drivers.
The Problem with Ozone-Based Car Ionizers
Ozone (O3), while very effective at destroying airborne odors, VOCs, bacteria, viruses and other biological contaminants, is unstable and not recommended at high levels for long periods.
Generally, if you can smell the faint bleach or office printer smell of a ionic automotive air purifier that uses ozone, it should be unplugged or turned off. Breathing in too much O3 is not good for your lungs.
The CDC recommends ozone levels for air cleaners be limited to 0.05 parts per million in enclosed spaces. They also warn that asthma sufferers and people with respiratory problems may be more sensitive to ozone.
A very tiny amount of ozone can occur naturally when negative ions are generated, but any good ionizer for your car should specifically list ozone as less than 0.05 ppm (often written as < 0.05 ppm).
While most air purifiers for vehicles should comply with this, there have been reports of much higher readings during safety testing. These are usually recalled, but then quickly replaced with another model that may not have been thoroughly tested.
If you’d like to be sure your car air ionizer actually generates beneficial ions, rather than just ozone, then look for the specific ion output to be listed by the manufacturer. This is measured in millions of ions per second and the higher the better.
With these points covered, let’s look at the best car ionizers and auto air purifiers in 2020 and what makes them so good.
Best Car Air Purifier Overall — WYND Essential
I’ve featured the excellent WYND before in these best small air filters. Its unique design and unmatched portability also make it a perfect air purifier for cars.
This powerful little car air cleaner generates incredible airflow for its compact size using a 360-degree, rocket turbine inspired design.
So much so, that it can purify more than 9 liters of polluted air per second, according to its creator, Eric Munoz, a former aerospace engineer.
Weighing less than a pound, and only 2.75 inches at the base and 6.65 inches high, the compact WYND easily fits into your car’s cup holder. In fact, it’s not much larger than a water bottle.
Unlike every other car air filter I’ve seen during my research for this review, the WYND does not need to be plugged in to run.
It charges with an included cable to a USB port, which almost all modern cars have. If you have an older car you can charge it like your phone.
Once charged, it can clean the air cable-free wherever you are, for up to 8 hours on a single charge. With harmful particulate matter pollution so common these days, the health benefits of this portability are significant.
The WYND is much more than just the best car air purifier. You can take it with you to work and have it running on your office desk; use it when sitting outside in bad air; pack it when travelling; and even use it in a germ-filled plane cabin.
This mobile air purifier uses medical-grade electrostatic filters, infused with particles of antibacterial silver for germs. The filters are inexpensive but should replaced every 3 to 6 months, depending on how often you use it.
The WYND also comes with its own stand so you can direct the ‘bubble of clean air’ it generates straight at your face. This would be helpful on desks and tables but it’s safest to keep in running in your car’s cup holder whenever you’re driving.
Unique features like these help make the WYND Essential far and away the best air purifier for cars I’ve seen anywhere.
WYND Essential Pros and Cons
- Jet propulsion inspired design gives the WYND the highest air purification to size ratio on the market. Far more powerful than regular automotive air purifiers.
- 9 liters of clean air per second. Quickly and effectively clears PM 2.5 pollution and other airborne contaminants from inside your car.
- Highly compact car purifier at 6.65 high and only 2.75 inches wide at the base. Would fit in any car’s cup holder.
- Runs cable-free for up to 8 hours on one charge. Not just for your car or truck. You can take anywhere.
- Medical-grade replacement filters are surprisingly cheap. It’s easier to buy one with your WYND if you think this portable air purifier would be good to have while driving.
- Initial cost is more than some cheap car air purifiers, though the high-tech WYND is clearly a better auto air cleaner than older designs.
- Does not generate negative ions so look to the plug-in auto ionizer option next if you want the health benefits of negative ions. Potentially, you could even run both at the same time.
If you’re looking for a compact and effective car air purifier, the WYND Essential is a powerful and stylish choice.
The fact that it’s cable-free and you can take it anywhere also gives the WYND a versatility that other air cleaners for cars can’t match.
You can see the price here and also check the ‘Frequently Bought Together’ section for the low-priced filters.
After many years of updating car air purifier reviews, and reading hundreds upon hundreds of listings, the WYND Essential is the best air filter for cars I’ve ever seen.
Best Value Plug-In Car Ionizer — NIOSS 4.0
Plugging directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt power supply, the new NIOSS 4.0 mini ionizer for your car takes up virtually no space. There’s just the silver top, where the ions are generated, popping out of the 12v socket.
As an added bonus there are also 2 USB ports on the side of this mini negative ion generator for charging your phone, tablet & other electronic devices while driving.
There are quite a few car plug-in air purifier that look similar to this design, but this one specifically lists negative ion generation of 5,600,000 pcs/cm3, which is impressive for such a small and cheap auto air cleaner.
The NIOSS 4.0 car purifier ionizer combats pollen, pet dander, bacteria, viruses, bad odors and cigarette smoke with the high levels of negative ions it generates. Realistically though, the WYND or AutoWit options will perform much better.
One concern with these type of plug-in car air ionizers is that they can produce small amounts of ozone as well.
This helps with air cleaning and allergen removal, but if the faint chlorine smell of ozone ever becomes noticeable in your vehicle it would be best to unplug it for a while.
The manufacturer says their product produces only a ‘safe amount of ozone’, which in the USA is less than 0.05 ppm.
Searching through their listing, there is a picture which states that ozone is <0.05 ppm. Still, this is something that really should be displayed up front.
For a highly compact vehicle air freshener and ionizer at a very low price, the NIOSS 4.0 auto air purifier fits the bill. Once you plug it in to a standard 12v car adapter it will continue to generate considerable negative ions for as long as your car is running.
You can see more details and pictures here on Amazon. Looking through all of the car plug-in air purifiers, I think the new NIOSS 4.0 model is the best available in 2020.
Top Car Ionic Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter — AutoWit Fresh Mini
HEPA filter based ionic air purifiers for your home like these are popular and highly effective, but it’s rare to find a good one for your car given the size and space restrictions inside a vehicle.
This new AutoWit model, here on Amazon with True HEPA filter, is a close contender with the WYND for best looking car air purifier in this review. It fits easily in standard cup holders and is powered by an included USB cable for modern vehicles.
More importantly, it’s combination of antimicrobial nano-silver and True HEPA filters, activated carbon and negative ions neutralizes 99% of airborne allergens and absorbs bad odors and gaseous pollutants like cigarette smoke, formaldehyde and other VOCs.
There are some great features, but also a few considerations to be aware of before buying this car ionic air purifier. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this new travel anywhere HEPA air cleaner.
AutoWit Pros and Cons
- True HEPA filters are highly effective at removing airborne contaminants right down to 0.3 microns with over 99% efficiency.
- This auto air purifier and ionizer combines HEPA technology with activated carbon for absorbing odors, smoke and VOCs, plus a negative ion generator producing 8,000,000 ions per cubic centimeter per second.
- Being USB powered, compact and light, this HEPA air purifier is highly portable and you could use it both in your car and on your office desk at work. It could even be used as a travel air purifier.
- Amazon’s description says this ionizer air purifier combination automatically detects poor air quality and adapts its fan speeds, with different colors displayed on the LED indicator.
- The manufacturer has listed this car air filter as very low noise at under 35 dB.
- Slim and stylish design that fits in a regular cup holder and comes with a useful handle for portability.
- While considered the gold standard in air cleaning, HEPA filters do need to be replaced occasionally to maintain maximum effectiveness. Every 6 months to to 1 year is often suggested.
- Ionizers can produce minuscule amounts of ozone but, as long as it is not being deliberately generated, as is the case with many other car ionic air purifiers, this should be virtually undetectable.
- Not as inexpensive as some automobile air purifiers in this review. Though, especially compared to cheaper car plug-in ionizers, this model should be considerably more effective at cleaning the air you breathe while driving.
If you are looking for a car HEPA filter, with the added benefit of activated carbon and high negative ion output, this stylish vehicle air purifier deserves serious consideration.
It’s slim and light and, since it can be powered by USB, it could also be used on your work desk or taken travelling.
You can also find more small and portable air purifiers like this here and some highly recommended desktop air filters in this detailed review.
Better Air Inside Your Car for Safer Driving
After spending many hours researching car ionizers, HEPA filters for vehicles and plug-in auto air purifiers, I’m certain the high-powered WYND Essential, available here on Amazon in black and the extra featured white Smart model, is the best car air cleaner available.
The AutoWit, here at a lower price and free shipping, is the top air purifier ionizer combination for cars, with a True HEPA filter and negative ion output of 8 million healthy ions per second.
Also consider one of these wearable personal air purifiers for cleaning the air you breathe while driving. Unlike car air filters that stay in your vehicle, you can take these compact negative ion generators anywhere.
I hope this review of the best car HEPA filters, vehicle air purifiers and auto ionizers has helped you find an effective way to clean the air you breathe inside your car or truck.
Please share it with friends who do a lot of driving as air pollution on long journeys can lead to tiredness and lapses in concentration.
A good air cleaner for your vehicle is a wise investment in both your long-term health and your personal safety out on the roads each day.
This article may contain affiliate links to products I recommend. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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