How to Clean and Oil K&N Air Filters
K&N is a brand that has become synonymous with high quality air filters designed to keep particulates out of your engine while allowing the maximum amount of clean airflow.
Producing air filters for just about every make and model of motorcycle, ATV, side-by-side, automobile or snowmobile you can name, chances are there's a K&N filter at the heart of your air intake system.
Cleaning your K&N air filter will allow as much air as possible to pass through the engine, and oiling it will ensure it traps as many particulates as possible to prevent them from entering your motor.
Watch the video above and follow the step-by-step guide below for cleaning and oiling a K&N air filter.
Paper and Foam Filters vs. K&N Filters
There are two types of air filters that typically come standard with your motorcycle, utility vehicle or automobile: paper and foam. Paper air filters, as their name suggests, are made from a paper-like material, and foam air filters are made from a soft polyurethane foam material.
Both paper and foam filters work the same way, allowing air to pass through them while filtering out and collecting any impurities from the air. However, these standard filters have their drawbacks. Paper air filters quickly lose their airflow capacity once they become dirty. Foam air filters, on the other hand, are excellent at allowing air flow but aren't as effective at filtering particulates from the air.
K&N air filters, otherwise known as fabric filters, are made of a cotton gauze material arranged into layers. This cotton gauze material is exceptional at filtering out airborne particulates, while offering excellent high-airflow characteristics even when dirty.
The other benefit of K&N filters over standard air filters is that they're fully reusable, as opposed to paper filters, which have a single-use lifespan, and foam filters, which are prone to breaking down over time. In fact, K&N air filters are guaranteed by the manufacturer to last for 10 years or 1 million miles.
K&N Filter Care
Caring for a K&N air filter is a simple, two-step process. First, the filter must be cleaned, then oiled. The cleaning removes all the trapped debris and particulates that have built up in the filter, while the oiling provides an adhesive quality to the filter that makes it even more effective at trapping airborne contaminates trying to pass through it.
Cleaning a K&N Filter
There are plenty of cleaners available for every type of air filter, including some that can be used with both foam and fabric filters. These types of cleaners are ideal if you own different vehicles with different air filter types. However, only fabric air filter cleaner should be used on K&N filters. Follow the steps below to properly clean your K&N air filter.
Step 1. Thoroughly shake the can of air filter cleaner.
Step 2. Liberally spray the inside and outside (or topside and underside side) of your K&N filter, and leave the cleaner to soak into it for about 15 minutes.
Step 3. Hose down the air filter with water to rinse away all the dirt, debris and filter cleaner.
Step 4. Leave the air filter to dry completely. This takes several hours, but it's necessary because the filter needs to be absolutely dry, otherwise any remaining moisture will prevent the filter oil from penetrating it. It's a good idea to let a washed and cleaned K&N air filter dry overnight before oiling it.
PRO TIP: You can use soap and water to clean a K&N filter, but the results are nowhere near as effective as what an air filter cleaner product can do. Never use contact/brake cleaner or carb cleaner on your K&N air filter, as they will severely damage its cotton gauze material.
Oiling a K&N Filter
Many air filter oils are also available for use on both foam and fabric, but it's recommended you only use fabric air filter oil for servicing your K&N filter.
Oiling the filter is a simple, one-step process. Spray a light, even coating of oil on the inside and outside (or topside and underside) of your K&N filter before reinstalling it into your vehicle.
Maintaining K&N Filters
The frequency in which you'll need to clean and oil your K&N filter will depend upon the type of vehicle it's being used in, as well as the conditions the vehicle typically runs in and how hard the vehicle is driven. For example, a K&N air filter in a cruiser motorcycle may go several thousand miles before it needs cleaning and oiling, whereas a filter on a sports ATV raced frequently on sand might need a weekly service.
Check your vehicle's owner manual to see the manufacturer's recommendations on cleaning or changing air filters for additional guidance.