A vehicle’s air filter has the sole job to stop and prevent any dirt, debris and particles into the engine. The only thing allowed in, is a clean flow of air. Depending on the road conditions and the use of your vehicle, the air filter becomes more and more clogged with the unwanted particles. As this keeps building up, it becomes difficult for the air filter to allow a streamline flow of clean air through, preventing it from doing the job effectively.

It is ideal to clean or change the air filter every 10,000 km or 7 miles. Though this really depends on how often the vehicle is in use and where they are driving. Of course off-roading will require constant cleaning. A visual inspection of the filter should be done when unsure. A minor car service will generally cover this. Though you can do this simple clean or change yourself.

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For most people, their cars will have a stock air filter, but for those with modifications, the air filter or air intake system is usually the first to be changed. This modification claims to draw in more air, promoting higher combustion rates, ultimately leading to an increase in power.

There are many aftermarket manufacturers that have just as many air filter variety of all different sizes, shapes and types. You may notice some cone-shaped, cylinder-shaped, mushroom-shaped, panels and more. To clean your air filter properly, you need to figure out what filter type you have in your automobile.

Oiled Air Filters

These air filters are made from cotton that has a fine coat of oil to capture very fine dirt and particles. The oiled air filters are more durable and can be re-used. Though when cleaning these air filters, it requires an additional coating step.

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Dryflow Air Filters

Dryflow air filters are made from cotton, paper or gauze and do not have the additional oil coat. These air filters are faster to clean but do clog faster and requires to be changed more often.

Steps To Cleaning An Air Filter

For oiled air filters, the best renowned way is to use the K&N kit, this includes the cleaning agent and oil applicator. Though there are many other filter cleaning kits available that can also do the job. Warm soapy water is another alternative if you do not want to spend the money, though it is not as effective.

Each vehicle’s setup may differ.

  1. Remove the filter housing and take out the air filter, disconnecting it from the air intake arm. Depending on your intake, you may require a screwdriver to disconnect certain parts. Make sure that you cover the open intake with a clean cloth so that no dust, dirt and anything will fly into the engine.
  2. At this point you can replace the filter with the appropriate brand new filter. Otherwise, to clean, gently tap the air filter outside multiple times against a solid surface to get rid of any excess dust and debris.

For a dryflow air filter, you can vacuum it on medium flow from the outward face of the filter.

  1. With either the dryflow or oiled-based filter, you can use the K&N spray to generously apply the agent inside and out to loosen up the dirt. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes, but do not let it dry.Alternatively, you can use warm soapy water and a bucket to rinse and repeat either of the filters.
  2. Now to rinse it off with clean water. Use either a tap or hose on low flow and wash out the media from the inside-out. Ideally you would want to loosen the grime and push it out instead of pushing it further into the media.
  3. Repeat steps 3 & 4 if the air filter is really dirty. Run water through until it comes out clear. Shake off any water and let it dry naturally.
  4. This step is exclusive to the oiled air filters. After the filter is completely dry, spray it with the K&N Oil applicator about 7 cm from the filter. Try and give the media an even coat all around. Let the filter sit for 20 minutes and reapply on any untouched areas. Leave this to set again for another 20-30 This additional oil coat helps the air filter from becoming brittle in the future.
  5. Re-install the filter once it is ready into the arm and housing. Check that all screws and bolts are tight and that it is properly mounted.

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  • Don’t use any high pressure water or compressed air on the media, as this would potentially damage the material and weaves of the media.
  • Don’t steam clean, or use acidic agents, automotive or household detergents to clean, as they can harm the filter media.
  • Don’t use excessive heat, as this may shrink the filter media.

Be Careful when handling the media, If the weaves are damaged, it will affect its job which could possibly cause more harm for your car, potentially allowing unwanted particles into the engine. Cleaning the car’s air filter every half a year is more than enough, providing that it is not exposed or located outside of the engine bay.

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