What are the Best Car Air Purifiers & Ionizers of 2018?
If you’re looking to buy a good car air purifier to eliminate airborne allergens and odors, prevent fatigue, enhance your concentration and improve the quality of the air you breathe in your vehicle, this page has a detailed review of the best air cleaners for cars and why they are recommended.
Also ahead, important things to look out for and avoid with car ionizers, why ozone air fresheners are not recommended and how some features actually decrease the effectiveness of a car air cleaner.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Your Car
Air cleaners designed for vehicles tend to utilize either negative ions, ozone or fan powered filter technologies like HEPA.
While each of these can clean the environment in your car in their own way, only true negative ionizers can offer the many health benefits of increased negative ions in the air you breathe.
More common, however, are plug in air purifiers for vehicles that utilize ozone as their primary air cleaning method. However, this can present certain health issues, particularly for people who drive for long periods.
The Problem with Ozone Based Car Air Purifiers
Ozone, while effective at destroying airborne odors, 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 turned off before too long.
The CDC recommends ozone levels for air purifiers be limited to 0.05 parts per million in enclosed spaces. A small amount of ozone does 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 air purifiers for vehicles should comply with this, there have been reports of much higher readings during testing of some models. 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 ionizer actually generates beneficial negative ions, rather than just ozone, then look for the ion output to be listed by the manufacturer. This is measured in the millions or billions per second and the higher the better.
Ionic Air Purifiers and Car Ionizers with Fragrance
Be especially suspicious of ‘ionic air purifiers’ and ‘car anion ionizers’ that don’t display how many negative ions or how much ozone they generate. While some may still function as negative ionizers, ozone generation is more likely to be the more predominant air cleaning method.
Another trend I’ve noticed recently in ionizers for cars and trucks is to include a steam dispenser where you can add your own fragrance to ‘freshen the air’.
This may seem like a good idea, but actually works against the way negative ions attach to airborne particles, including water vapor, and thus would greatly reduce a proper ionizer’s effectiveness. It could however be used to help mask the distinctive ozone smell.
Also, keep in mind that while some newer auto air filters can be powered by USB, the majority will plug in directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt cigarette lighter. Something to remember if your car is one of the few models that doesn’t have one of these.
With these points covered, let’s look at the best car air purifiers with high negative ion generation and what makes them so good.
Best Plug-In Car Ionizer — FRiEQ Car Air Purifier
Plugging directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt power supply, this bestselling and extremely compact ionizer for your car takes up virtually no space. There’s just the crystal blue top, where the ions are generated, popping out of the cigarette lighter.
There are quite a few car plug-in air purifiers that look similar to this design, but this one specifically lists negative ion generation of 4,800,000 pcs/cm3, which is quite an impressive amount for such a small automotive air cleaner.
The FRiEQ auto ionizer will neutralize cigarette smoke, pollen, pet dander, bad odors, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds with the negative ions it generates.
One concern with these type of plug-in car ionizers is that they can produce small amounts of ozone as well. This can help with air cleaning and allergen removal, but if the faint bleech/office equipment smell of ozone ever becomes noticeable in your vehicle it would be best to unplug this ionizer 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, and I have seen an identical looking design list under 0.05 ppm in their specifications. Still, this is something that really should be displayed up front.
For a highly compact car air freshener and ionizer at a very low price, the FRiEQ 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.
Another option, new in 2018, is a similar 12v car adapter plug-in ionizer with a slightly wider head, smaller blue light and, interestingly, two USB charging points, allowing this auto air cleaner to double as a phone charger. They even include a free USB cable.
More valuable, this newer model produces 6 million negative ions per cm³ and does list ozone as less than the safe .05 parts per million. The description also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 12 month warranty for quality issues.
This newer car plug-in air purifier doesn’t have anywhere near as many reviews as the FRiEQ, but I’d recommend checking the price and comparing it here on Amazon to see if this would be the best car ionizer for you.
Best Affordable Air Purifier for Cars — Winext Auto Ionizer with Air Filter
The inexpensive Winext car air cleaner is a negative ion generator (5 million pcs/cm3) combined with a 3M made HAF electrostatic filter to eliminate airborne particles like pet dander, dust, pollen, viruses and bacteria.
As well as plugging into a cigarette lighter, and unlike most other car ionizers I’ve seen, it can also be powered by an included USB connection if you have a modern car that has a USB port.
Given this, the Winext auto ionizer could be considered not just an air purifier for your car, but also a portable ion generator for your office desk or to use in hotels when traveling.
To connect the ionizer by USB requires 5 volts, which means it should be compatible with both older USB 1.x and 2.0, which are listed as providing a 5 volt power supply, and in USB 3.0 which is higher.
While quite slim, the Winext auto air purifier is about 5 inches wide and freestanding. That’s fine for portability but keep it in mind when considering whether it would be a good fit for your car.
While the negative ion output of this car ionizer is similar to the previous model reviewed, its ability to circulate air through the electrostatic filter should make it a bit more effective at air cleaning in general.
Recommended Car HEPA Filter — Mododo Compact Air Purifier
HEPA filter based air cleaners for your home are popular and highly effective but it’s rare to find a good one for your car given the size and space restrictions when driving.
This new 2018 Mododo portable HEPA air purifier for cars is probably the best looking model in this review with its sleek aluminium build and metallic colors. It fits easily in standard cup holders and is powered by both the 12v car adapter and included USB cable for modern vehicles.
More importantly, it’s combination of primary and HEPA filters, activated carbon and negative ions neutralizes 99.5% of airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust, cigarette smoke, bad odors, bacteria, viruses, mold spores and formaldehyde and other VOCs.
There are some great features, but also a few considerations to be aware of before buying this car air purifier and ionizer. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this new portable HEPA air cleaner.
- HEPA filters are highly effective at removing airborne contaminants right down to 0.3 microns with over 99% efficiency.
- This auto air cleaner combines HEPA technology with activated carbon for absorbing odors and a negative ion generator producing 5,000,000 ions per cubic centimeter per second.
- The product is listed as ozone free. In truth, all negative ionizers can produce miniscule amounts of ozone but, as long as it is not being deliberately generated, like many other ‘ionic car purifiers’, this should be virtually undetectable.
- 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 cleaner.
- Hand gesture control for changing the fan speed from low to high and powering on and off is a nice touch while driving. It also has an LED display of air quality, humidity and temperature.
- Amazon’s description says this car purifier comes with a 2 years warranty.
- Slim and stylish design that fits in a regular cup holder with silver, gold and gunmetal color options.
- While considered the gold standard in air cleaning, HEPA filters do need to be replaced to maintain maximum effectiveness. How often this is depends on how much you use this air filter in your car. Every 3 to 6 months is suggested. If you use it daily and particularly if you have pets in the car then factor in 3 months. If you only turn it on occasionally you could realistically go much longer. The HEPA filters for this model can be found here.
- The manufacturer has listed this car air filter as low noise under 35db but some reviews have mentioned that they can hear it on the high fan setting. Consider whether this would bother you if you usually drive without music playing.
- Not as inexpensive as the previous air purifiers for cars reviewed. Though, especially compared to cheaper plug-in ionizers, this model should be considerably more effective at cleaning the air you breathe.
If you are looking for a HEPA filter based air purifier for your car with the added benefit of negative ions, the Mododo air cleaner and ionizer 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.
There’s detailed specifications and many reviews, pictures and answered questions for this well designed model here.
Best Hi-Tech Car Air Cleaner — Air Angel Mobile Purifier and Sanitizer
If you spend a lot of time driving and value having the best quality air to breathe in your car, truck or RV then this new portable purifier, sanitizer and allergen destroyer is an effective option.
The Air Angel is made in America and uses advanced hydrated photocatalytic oxidation technology developed by NASA to safely eliminate air allergens, smoke odors, bad smells, volatile organic compounds, mold, virus and bacteria in your vehicle.
Photocatalytic oxidation is also effective against pet dander, making this model a good choice if you travel with pets in your car but don’t want to use a HEPA filter based air cleaner that can need regular replacement around cats and dogs.
This air cleaner for your car does produce negative ions as well, though at 500000/cm3 they would be considered a secondary addition to the photocatalytic oxidation air filtering.
There are 3 fan speeds with 3 ion output settings and the manufacturer guarantees a safe ozone output of less than .04 ppm at the highest ion setting, under the EPA recommended limit for ozone.
The Air Angel mobile air purifier comes with a padded carrying case and removable mounting bracket for positioning it on the dashboard of your car or a similar surface. It can be powered by both a regular power corder and a standard 12v car adaptor, so potentially you could use it both at the office and when travelling in your vehicle.
While this air purifier and ionizer is higher in price than the other car ionizer reviewed above, it is the only product made in the USA and utilizes some quite unique technology. There’s a 1 year warranty, more details and many positive reviews with the Air Angel mobile air purifier here.
I hope this review of the best car air purifiers with high negative ion output has helped you find an effective way to clean the air you breath in your vehicle.
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 car is an investment in both your health and your personal safety out on the roads.
There’s also more on the best negative ionizers for your home here. If you have a USB connection in your car then the first model reviewed there could also be used as a good car ionizer and air purifier as well.