In this article we explain what an air filter does and then go on to look at some of the benefits of K&N filters compared to conventional paper ones.
What does an air filter do?
Engines generate their power by igniting fuel (petrol or diesel) in the presence of oxygen (a gas found in air). An air filter traps the impurities in the air so that the car’s engine can ‘breath’ better and burn fuel more efficiently. In this way, an air filter protects a car’s fuel economy and prevents loss of power. The majority of filters use paper to trap the dirt particles and need to be changed every 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 miles.
How are K&N filters different?
K&N air filters used oiled cotton as their filter medium rather than paper. This allows for a freer flow of air when the filter is clean and the oiled cotton can also absorb more impurities before becoming clogged than paper filters can.
When the cotton becomes too dirty, rather than throw it away, you clean the filter and oil it again. This needs to be done only around every 50,000 miles, even less if you live in an area with little dust in the air. K&N provide a low cost cleaning kit which can be used 5 to 10 times. K&N filters are designed to last the lifetime of a car and come with a million mile/10 year warranty.
Air filters that use paper are unable to be recycled and are just thrown away once they become dirty. K&N filters last for the car’s entire lifetime and the cleaning pack uses recyclable plastic bottles and cardboard packaging.
On average and if you change the filter yourself, a K&N air filter will pay for itself after around two years or after two changes, whichever comes first. If you use a dealership to change the filter it could pay for itself after just one change.
In reality, people live busy lives and don’t change their air filters as frequently as they should. This costs them money in fuel costs and prevents their car from performing as well as it could. Because K&N filters do not need changing as often and perform better when dirty, they can save drivers some serious cash.
Because they are so good at blocking dirt from entering the engine, they prevent expensive wear and tear from occurring. Cars fitted with paper air filters suffer more mechanical issues after a shorter time period than cars fitted with K&N oiled cotton ones.
Overall, K&N air filters may have a higher initial purchase cost and you do also need a cleaning kit, but they will soon pay for themselves. Savings won’t be huge but a car will perform better if it has a K&N filter fitted and there is less maintenance to worry about. The environmental benefits are also considerable.
Ian Banks is a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast who writes a popular blog and also works as a freelance motoring journalist. He is particularly interested in reducing the environmental impact of motoring and is a strong proponent of oiled cotton air filters such as those made by K&N, to know more visit this page.