One of the main reasons for wanting to use a K&N filter is not because the maker claims that its product can last the lifetime of the car. A drop-in filter, like the one fitted on this 1996 Mazda Miata, costs four times more than an OEM filter, and eight times more than a quality replacement. It isn’t hard for a car guy to make a decision. But to make sure that the K&N filter retains its filtration properties, it needs to be "recharged." Let’s see if this is a good idea.
What you need:
*K&N recharger kit
Okay, so we're all set. Now, here's the process step-by-step:
You have to get to the drop-in air filter first. If needed, loosen the screws that are holding the air-box closed. You might need to unlatch some clamps that hold the intake hoses in place as well. If you are using a cone-type K&N filter, detach it from the intake assembly.
It's spray time. Liberally spray the K&N Air Filter Cleaner on both sides of the filter. Do not let this cleaner dry on the filter. Submerge the filter in water and let it soak for 10 minutes. You should see the dirt separate from the element. Take the assembly out from the basin and rinse it with flowing water. Repeat this entire step if the filter still looks dirty. Do not scrub it.
Let it dry. Once the filter appears clean, it is time to air it dry. Do not use compressed air. Just hang it up and wait patiently. Once it is completely dry, spray it with K&N Air Filter Oil evenly along the crown of each pleat. Allow oil to wick for approximately 20 minutes. Touch up any light areas on either side of filter until there is a uniform red color everywhere. Install the filter again and you are good to go for another very long service interval.
Important things to check:
*It is wise to keep a log of all of the maintenance that is done to your ride. As we get older, we tend to forget things.
*Drying out the filter after cleaning takes some time. Make sure you’ve set aside a few hours for this procedure to be completed.
*Do some research before settling on a cleaning product or procedure. Is it actually better to keep the filter dirty? Let’s see.
*There is a debate as to whether to clean a K&N filter or not. But we think as long as the cleaning instructions are followed, there should be nothing to worry about.
*K&N uses a coating of oil to catch airborne contaminants. It isn’t a “dry” filter. It pays to know the difference.
*If there is a drop in power or a change in fuel mileage, it might be a good idea to check the condition of the air filter. Dirt might be the culprit, but there are many factors that can cause these symptoms.
Note: This article originally appeared in Top Gear Philippines' November 2014 issue.