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K @ N air cleaners

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I used one of these years ago on my 65 Riviera, and it was very good,

and lasted about 10 years,----are members still using these----these days..

Edited by Robson
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  • Wayne R changed the title to K @ N air cleaners
  • 5 weeks later...

When the K&Ns came out, it was "ground breaking" news of sorts.  Nobody had ever really suspected a filter element media might restrict air flow into an engine . . . only size thereof, possibly.  But as more power (and air flow) was needed, with available space an issue, then the media's flow performance tended to become more of an issue.


When I did a 4bbl from 2bbl upgrade on my '77 Camaro 305, I ended up with one of the knock-off GM Corvette-style open element air cleaners.  After I got things baselined and saved some money, I ended up with a new K&N element (and oil).  Seemed like I could hear a bit more induction roar, which I felt was evidence that it was less restrictive.  I had read how easy it was to wash (with their cleaner smelling just like re-packaged "409" spray cleaner).  But getting the correct amount of oil on the gauze seemed to be a problem for me.  Just how "red" should things end up?  Obviously, the oil was a part of the filtration package, so too much might not be good.  But I was lured by the longevity of the element, too.


But then one of the hot rodder magazines did an air filter element test.  Surprisingly, the Motorcraft OEM-spec filter flowed about 90% of what the same size (13"x3" Corvette size) element.  For less money and less maintenance.  That's what I replaced the K&N with, at that time.  No more oily messes and such!  No more having the car disabled for a few hours as the freshly-washed element dried so it could be re-oiled.  


When new, the K&Ns were a status symbol of sorts, especially with an open-element air cleaner.  But as they aged and got dirty, much less of a visual plus, even just the opposite sometimes.  With a dry element, I could usually tap the heavy particles out and then reverse-blow for the rest.  Not an option on the K&N.


Now, during the volcanic issues in the USA Northwest, K&Ns were praised for keeping emergency vehicles running as the volcanic ask would clog a dry filter in short order as the K&Ns would still flow air under those situations.  Which brigngs up an unusual situation.  In that the K&Ns seem to flow just as well when dirty or clean.


As for effective filtration down to a certain micron particle size rating?  Don't know that I've ever seen anything on that, just that it flows better than a stock filter element.  The suspicion is that it would meet industry OEM standards, but I don't know that I've seen that statement.  Which might raise some suspicions, in that respect.  Everybody is focused on flow through the media, not specifically how small the particle size which can get through the media.


In an open-element air cleaner housing, that's one thing.  In an air filter "case", with several possible twists/turns/turbulance to deal with, probably not much improvement in real airflow.  Chrysler and a few others had flow director baffles at the inner snorkle area to direct airflow around the air cleaner's innards before it gets to the filter element.  Many others have just a straight shot to the element, which builds its own flow director baffle ON the element itself, with time.  Many issues in this area, it seems, once I thought about it.


For a reasonably stock engine, to me, the added maintenance issues with the K&N ended up not being nearly as much fun as it was to own a K&N.  When a value-priced Motorcraft filter (with a known OEM-spec filter media) would work just as well for less money and "involvement of ownership", plus purchasing their spray cans of oil and spray de-greaser/cleaner.  I kind of doubt that anybody has ever tested their Million Mile Warranty, as a result.


I know people have and still do purchase K&N air filters, for many "right reasons", but from my experiences over a few years, there CAN be less costly and equally beneficial options out there.  Although some specific conditions and engine requirements can make use of the benefits a K&N filter element might provide.




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If you get one, keep the original dry paper filter to install while servicing the K&N filter.  I too was misguided and bought one --- could not tell any difference in power or mileage.  And the servicing was a pain, even more so than the oil bath filters on my 55's.  Maybe if I had burned incense and mumbled incantations while servicing it would have been less painful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Many thanks for all  your reply s, 

old tank, Smartin, and especially  NTX5467, for your very informative  long answer,

yes you could be correct about   air flow, and the OEM standards,  i always wondered about that as well,

as my my 65 was a nearly every day driver for 10 years while in US, but it  could go like a rocket.

I always cleaned the filter with  brake clean ,on a hot day, would only take about 10 minutes completely dry

for  putting on  the oil. 


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  • 1 year later...

On the vehicles which use a "hot wire burnoff" in the Mass Air Flow sensor, GM sent out a TSB about the oil in the K&N getting on that wire and causing calibration changes/issues.


In that style of MAF, the "hot wire" gets a high initial voltage to bunr off any deposits on it.  Then using the amount of voltage required to keep the wire at a particular temp as a measure of the air flow cooling it.  So the small amount of oil in the intake air flow could definitely affect things, especially if the servicer of the K&N element over-oils it.


After the K&Ns were popular, I found an air filter element test which showed that a Ford Motorcraft paper filter was the next-best flowing element after the K&N.  So I sought one out to fit my Camaro and never looked back.  I would ususally tap the filter every so often anyway, so I got a lot of miles from them at LESS COST.




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  • 5 months later...

I circle track raced on dirt track throughout the midwest for 13 years and i can tell you,you wil NOT find a K&N air filter on any of the rcaecars.They Attract Dirt and plug-up half way thru the race.I don't like them at all.If you have say,a 14x3 air filter,just buy a 14x4" and breathe more than any K&N w/o asking for dirt to stick to it.


Edited by Nailbitten (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

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