How to clean a k&n Air Filter and Make Sure Your Engine Gets all the air it Needs

How to clean a k&n air filter

Today we will teach you how to clean a k&n air filter in order to provide optimum air to the engine. Most of you appreciate these filters thanks to the improved performance and the style they add to the engine bay. Keep in mind that regular maintenance is mandatory, and it isn’t as simple as some of you may believe. Stay tuned.

What is the k&n air filter?

In order to easily understand what a k&n air filter is, you need to know basics about ordinary or conventional air filters. They are made from soft pads usually layered with sponge or fabric, and they are located in a housing. Old cars had metal housings, but new ones have made of plastics. A k&n filter is completely opposite to conventional filter.

At first sight, you can notice that the k&n air filter looks completely different. It is made from a mesh of metal or composite material, and it usually doesn’t have housing. Some of them require housing, while others don’t. k&n air filter motorcycle models are the same, just smaller.

The main purpose of the k&n air filter is to provide more air to the engine. It has much bigger holes than a conventional air filter, and it provides far more air than an ordinary unit. This is especially important for those who want the best performances from their engine and want more power. k&n air filter cleaning is mandatory to make sure the air is filtered before it reaches intake manifold but to filter the air as it should.

The k&n air intake system is far more efficient than conventional unit, and it makes the engine bay look special. You will get a look at a tuned engine. All tuned cars have k&n air filters due to just the mentioned reasons.

You May Learn: How to Clean Engine Parts like a Professional Mechanic

Pros and cons of k&n air filter


There are a lot of facts you need to know regarding this air filter type. The truth about k&n air filters is that they have pros and cons. Let’s start with the advantages or pros.

They provide more air to the engine

In reality, k&n filters will provide 50% more air to the engine. This is extremely important if you are tuning your car, or you have increased the fuel flow to the engine. A conventional air filter cannot be tweaked to provide more air.

Improved performances

An engine that has a k&n filter will provide between 1 and 4% more power than without it. This is the main reason why so many people go for k&n air filters.

It lasts longer

Yes, k&n filter can last much longer than an ordinary air filter. In general, you can use it for years with proper maintenance. k&n air filter problems may occur only if the filter is dirty.

Prolongs the lifespan of the engine

An engine will use more air and provide more power and torque. All of this means that you will use less power for the everyday drive, which translates into a longer lifespan.

The engine will use less fuel

Is k&n air filter worth it? For most drivers, it is. After all, you get more power, but your engine will use less fuel.


It is expensive

A proper and high-quality k&n air filter will cost much more than a conventional air filter. After all, they are considered an upgrade, and they last much longer than conventional air filters.

Requires frequent maintenance

You need to know when and how to clean a k&n air filter properly. On average, this is a task you should do once per month.

How to clean a k&n air filter step by Step

Let’s take a look at the exact process of cleaning the k&n air filter. Keep in mind that you should follow all the steps, and you should take your time. Also, below, you can see a video that will help you learn how to clean a k&n air filter.

Remove the k&n air filter

The first step is to remove the air filter. It is located under the hood of your car. It might be hidden in a plastics housing or exposed, depending on the type. The best air filter for the car will be made from strong mesh and attached with a clamp to the intake rubber pipe. When removing this type of air filter, avoid pressing it or using tools that can damage the mesh. If damaged, the entire filter must be replaced.

Shake it

Some people who will want to how to clean a k&n air filter without kit may skip this step, but most of you should read it. You should shake the removed k&n filter to remove larger debris from the filter. You can see dust, mud, or even small rocks falling from it. This is far from a mandatory task, but it should be used.

Wash the filter

The next step is to wash the filter using cold water. This may be the best K and n air filter cleaner alternative. However, you should follow the entire process. Yes, you can use soap as well, but make sure it is completely removed before fitting the air filter back to a car. As such, the answer to the Can I clean my k&n air filter with soap and water question is obvious. You can, but never do it while the k&n filter is fitted in a car.

Apply oil or k&n air filter oil substitute

Now you should use oil or even better K&N 99-5050 Filter Care Service Kit and spray it all over the filter. This solution is used to capture dust and other particles more efficiently. Skipping the step is a huge problem due to the fact the air filter won’t be able to filter the air properly, and some of the dust may get inside the engine. If that happens, you may end up with a huge engine problem. On the other hand, some of you may prefer the k&n air filter cleaning kit Walmart offers. Their purpose is the same.

Fit the air filter back to the engine

The last step is to fit the k&n filter back to a car. All you need to do is to place the tubing on the filter and clamp it back in place. If the filter has a bracket or some other, additional mounting point, use it as well. If the air filter isn’t properly mounted, it will vibrate, which will cause intake hose to break, and if that happens, the engine will get unfiltered air, full of contaminants. Also, you may notice some of the Symptoms of a bad air filter.


Q: How often do you need to clean a K&N air filter?

K&n air filters should be cleaned every 50.000 miles. This is highly recommended. If you have a high-end k&n air system, it can last up to 100.000 miles before cleaning. Of course, if you notice Black smoke from the exhaust or engine losses power, you should clean it immediately.

Q: Can K&N filter damage the engine?

Absolutely not. These air filters are common today, and they are much better than conventional air filters. The only reason why they are not standard when you purchase a new car is their price, which is higher than for standard air filters. Symptoms of bad fuel filter and failure are far more common.

Q: Does K&N air filter increase horsepower?

Yes, it does. A high-end air filter will increase the horsepower for up to 4%. If you increase the full flow, you can get even more power from the same engine. Even without modifying anything else, you can get 1% power increase with k&n air filter only. An interesting fact is that this upgrade is the first when it comes to engine tuning and when you want more power from your car.

Q: How long do you let K&N air filter dry?

Depending on the temperature, a k&n air filter should be let to dry for 1 hour or 4 hours. Always make sure it is completely dry before you fit back to a car. In rare cases, the wet k&n filter may trigger the false reading of Oxygen Sensors.

Q: Will a K&N filter improve gas mileage?

Yes, it will. Make sure you don’t have any Mass Airflow Sensor Problems or Bad Sparkplug, and you will get the best possible mileage. The improvement varies and depends on each engine. In most cases, you can expect an improvement of 1-2 miles per gallon. It is a myth that k&n filter increases fuel consumption.


Today you learned how to clean a k&n air filter, why you need it in the first place, and all the good and not so good things about it. All you should remember is that these air filters are an upgrade compared to standard units, and they offer all the benefits drivers need. Last but not least, they can make your car look better and be more economical.

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