How To Get Cleaner Air from a K&N Air Filter

How To Get Cleaner Air from a K&N Air Filter


Of the two major components used for internal combustion, fuel and air, it's the latter that is most often overlooked by the average driver. This is ironic when you consider that a properly proportioned fuel charge is 14.7 parts air for every one part of fuel.

What is the basis for this automotive respiratory-system neglect? Like so many things in life, it comes from a combination of factors, not the least of which is the need to put gas in our cars regularly while rarely, if ever, dealing with the air-intake system. The average air filter can go 10,000 miles without needing to be changed, but the majority of us have to visit a gas station at least once a week. But what, if anything, can the average consumer do to improve his vehicle's respiratory system? That is where K&N comes into play.

K&N Engineering has been manufacturing air filters for over 30 years. The company uses an oil-impregnated, cotton-gauze filter element surrounded by a wire mesh. This design is superior to a paper element because it allows for superior airflow while maintaining effective air filtration. The cotton material lets air pass through it easily while trapping particles in the sticky, oil-covered fibers. This system works for up to 50,000 miles, at which point the filter is cleaned, re-oiled, and ready for another 50,000 miles. These filters, by the way, are emissions legal in all 50 states and do not void the manufacturer's warranty.

While the initial cost of a K&N Filter is much higher than a standard-replacement paper filter, the cost over time is less because all K&N Filters come with a 10-year/1,000,000-mile warranty. This reduced maintenance and cost would make K&N Filters attractive even if they supplied the same level of airflow as a paper air filter. But airflow tests on K&N products have shown superior airflow, even when the filters are at their 50,000-mile cleaning interval.

When that 50,000-mile cleaning interval does come, even the least mechanically inclined individual can perform it in less than an hour. Visit their Web site at to learn more about how K&N Filters work. To see how easy they are to clean, read on.

1.) A K&N Filter needs to be serviced every 50,000 miles. More frequent service may be necessary under extreme conditions such as off-road use where dusty conditions are prominent. Use only K&N brand Air Filter Cleaner and Air Filter Oil when servicing a K&N product.

2.) Tap the air filter gently against a hard surface to dislodge loose dirt. Always tap a filter on its base or side and never tape a filter's edges because this may damage the element. Follow this up by gently brushing the filter with a soft bristle brush. An old toothbrush will work well for this.

3.) Use K&N Air Filter Cleaner in either spray-on or liquid form. If a spray is used, be sure to coat the entire element and allow it to soak for 10 minutes. Use the liquid form by filling a pan to a level where the filter element is submerged beneath the cleaner. If a large, round element is being cleaned, rotate it through the fluid and remove it. After submerging the filter element in the cleaner, remove the filter and allow it to soak for 10 minutes.

4.) Rinse the element with low-pressure water such as from a household faucet. Do not use high-pressure spray as this will damage the element. Always flush from the clean side to the dirty side. This works to remove dirt from the filter rather than driving it further into the filter.

5.) Shake excess water from the filter and allow it to air dry at room temperature. Carefully hanging the filter in the outside air works well. Do not use compressed air or a heat source to dry the filter; these will damage the element, rubber base and end caps.

6.) Re-oil the filter with K&N Filter Oil. Use only K&N Filter Oil as any other form of oil can degrade the element's filtering ability. A K&N Filter will not function properly without sufficient oil and will require more frequent re-oiling of the filter's clean side in between cleanings.

7.) Spray K&N Filter Oil into the element's pleats from a distance of 10 inches. Spray each section of pleats only once until the reddish oil color becomes apparent. Let the filter sit for 10 minutes and respray any areas that are still white. You can also apply K&N Oil from a squeeze bottle onto each pleat.

8.) Re-install your K&N Filter into the filter housing. Make sure the filter seats properly in the filter housing. Install the air-filter cover and tighten any appropriate nuts, bolts, screws or clips. Apply the K&N "Do Not Discard" sticker to the filter housing to keep service technicians from throwing away your reusable filter.

To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.



  • stever stever Posts:

    I'd rather use disposable paper filters and not mess with oiling, refill kits and the risk of messing up a sensor.

  • This level of maintenance is expected of an untrained grunt straight out of boot-camp to keep mission-essential equipment running. If you've ever cleaned even your vacuum filter then this shouldn't be difficult for you.

  • IN RESPONSE TO “TIPS TO INCREASE ENGINE LIFE”: I find all the hype surrounding K&N air filters very misleading at best, fraudulent at worst, for the most part. An oiled gauze filter is nothing new. When I had a BSA motorcycle dealership back in the late 60’s, the (British) bikes came with oiled gauze filters. Their construction was virtually identical to today’s K&N filters. At that time, most owners changed to “Filtron” filters, a green oiled foam type filter. It was universally recognized the oiled gauze filters were woefully inefficient. . Fast foreword to the current filter market. The oiled gauze filters are back! Many tests have proven the K&N filters to be a VERY POOR choice. The Honda Ridgeline club (most recently) performed tests comparing a Delco pleated paper filter to a K&N. The paper filter allowed .4 grams of silicate material (to wit: dirt) to pass through. The K&N allowed a WHOPPING 7.0 grams. In addition, the paper filter was capable of retaining 573.9 grams of silicate (dirt), the K&N was limited to retaining 122.6 grams. . This post is in response to the “Tips to Increase Engine Life” subject. The common consensus is that a K&N filter can increase engine wear 10% over that of a quality pleated paper filter. I expect to be inundated by K&N filter aficionados arguing in support of their screed-door / cotton filters. Facts are facts. K&N defends the fact a person may view openings right through a K&N filter media with their “micronic invisible oily hairs” nonsense. Bottom line, maximum engine life is achieved with a good pleated paper air filter. . The claim by K&N that their filters become more efficient as they collect debris is quite telling. Of course, as soon as the 10 to 20 micron holes get plugged, there are increasingly smaller holes remaining. As a K&N filter nears complete blockage, it approached the efficiency of the OEM paper filters. By that time the engine is struggling for air. . I can’t argue with the profound popularity and seeming legitimacy of K&N filters. I also remember the “mothballs in the gas tank”, “magnets on the gas line”, and now the HHO nonsense. Popularity and widespread use of a product may be generated by massive and continuous advertising, in spite of its legitimate merits.

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