Are K&N filters Worth It? – Explore the Superior Service & Versatile Applications

Several filters are fitted to vehicles to ensure they run on only clean air, oil, or fuel. If the filters are not cleaning the cabin air, they are probably keeping the fuel-air mixture or oil needed by your engine clean. So it makes sense there are several filter brands making filters to meet these needs, one of which is K&N filters.

However, despite the numerous filter brands out there, you may wonder why people still choose K&N filters, which are pretty expensive than most filter brands offer. This has raised a question on many automobile online platforms; are K&N filters worth it? We will answer this as we progress, but first, let’s meet K&N filters and explore some of their filters.

are k&n cabin air filters worth it

What is the K&N filter?

K&N filter is a filtration company that has existed for over 50 years. It was founded by Ken Johnson and Norm McDonald in 1964, using their first names to form the company name— K&N filters.

Initially, they were prompted to make air filters that can stay long, filter well, and allow high airflow. Hence the use of oiled cotton gauze fixed between wire mesh invariably curbing the excesses of the paper air filters, which one needs to change from time to time.  While their primary focus was producing air filters, things have changed over the years.

K&N filters are famous for producing many other filtration devices that protect and ensure your car runs clean. So aside from air filters, K&N filters have been producing several other filters, which include oil filters, fuel filters, cabin filters, and just about any filtration device you can think of.

Their filters, while ensuring you get enough air, fuel, or oil, are also built to save costs. Here, you can wash the filter when dirty and re-oil using their cleaning kit and filter oil. Hence, allowing you to keep the filter for long. Thankfully, K&N filters are built for all applications. So whether you run a truck, motorcycle, race car, etc., K&N filters will meet your needs.

Different types and applications of K&N filters

K&N filters come in different types and are used extensively in different applications. Let’s explore some of their filters.

1.  K&N air filters

The first ever filtration device produced by K&N was air filters. It was borne of the desire to build something different from the usual paper filter. While these filters come with great filtering capacity, they require you to change them after a while.

It was for this reason K&N filters were built with oiled cotton gauze. This not only filters efficiently but allows high airflow into the engine while also letting you keep it throughout your vehicle’s lifetime since the filter can be washed and reused. Their air filter comes in handy for use in different applications, some of which include.

K&N universal air filters

These air filters are built for a wide range of applications which includes racing cars, snowmobiles, tractors, generators, etc. They are available in over 100 models, so no matter the position or offset diameter of your air intake, you sure will get a suitable fit.

K&N heavy-duty replacement air filters

The K&N heavy-duty air filter are specially formulated to provide efficient filtration for large turbo diesel engines, agricultural, diesel RVs, class 6-8 road trucks, and any earth-moving equipment. They have an extra rugged construction; hence can withstand extreme temperatures and pressure thrown by these applications.

The K&N heavy-duty air filters do not require oiling and can be washed and reused. So long you keep up with maintenance, you can use them for up to 300,000. They are available in many models and sure will have the right fit for your application.

K&N washable lifetime performance air filters

Built to last a lifetime, this K&N air filter offers efficient filtration while providing extra horsepower. They come custom designed to fit into your air box no matter the car you drive.  All you need is to find the one built for your specific application. And just like other air filters, you can wash and reuse them. 

K&N Powersports performance air filters

K&N Powersports performance air filters are built for long-term use for off-roading. But provide clean air for the engine even at high speed. Like other K&N air filters, they provide excellent filtration, high airflow and can be washed and reused.

K&N high-flow race air filter

K&N high-flow race air filters are designed for racing cars such as the super vee style and Atlantic cars. These filters allow high amount of air into your engine, giving your car extra horsepower.  And they also capture any track debris or dirt from entering and destroying the engine.

K&N cabin air filters

These filters are an excellent replacement for your OEM cabin filters, ensuring your cabin gets only clean and fresh air. It also features an advanced technology that helps eliminate odors by capturing mold, bacteria, and germs of any sort.

Additionally, you can use it for long as you can wash it when dirty and reinstall it. Like their engine filters, this cabin air filter is available in many models. So whether you drive a Lexus, Jaguar, Chevrolet, etc., you will surely get a perfect fit.

2. K&N oil filters

K&N is also known for manufacturing long-lasting oil filters. Like their air filters, while capturing contaminants provides increased oil flow, ensuring your engine components get enough oil at the right time. Thankfully, their oil filters come in handy for use in diverse applications, some of which include:

K&N performance gold oil filters

The K&N gold oil filters can filter as small as 10 microns, keeping your engine free of contaminants. It features a heavy-duty outer shell to protect the filter from stone and rock damage. And it is graced with an inner core to provide structural strength that helps prevent the filter from collapsing.

Some gold performance filters also feature an anti-drain valve that not only helps prevent a dry start but also stops oil from flowing back to the crankcase when shutting the engine. They come in different models and therefore can meet your car needs. For efficient filtration, max oil flow, and durability, the K&N gold oil filter is a sure bet.

K&N performance silver oil filters

Built for racing cars, the K&N performance silver oil filters come with an entirely new design, featuring a black fluted canister with strong sidewalls for robust strength. And with its new filter media, you can be sure of having excellent oil filtration with a high flow rate. This way, your engine can have enough clean oil to keep it lubricated and protected.

These silver oil filters also have a pressure relief valve, nitrile rubber anti-drain valves, and rolled threads that help prevent stripping during installation. K&N silver oil filters are co-labeled, so don’t be surprised when you see the NASCAR logo and K&N logo. They are reusable but only removed them with a traditional oil filter wrench. And since numerous models are available, you’ll surely get a perfect fit for your car.

K&N Powersports oil  filters

Racers, engine builders, ATVs, and the average motorcycle owner are meant to benefit from this oil filter. The K&N Powersports oil filter helps trap harmful contaminants with its construction built to enhance high flow rate. This oil filter comes with K&N workmanship and a limited warranty.

However, you can be qualified only if you remove, wash and install them using the manufacturer-recommended equipment and intervals. They are available in several models, so you have a list of options to choose from. While they are reusable, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

K&N heavy-duty oil  filters

If you own big diesel engines used in applications like tractors, motorhomes, semis etc., the K&N heavy-duty oil filters are a great option. The filters provide excellent oil filtration and a high flow rate. Thus, letting your engine run on not just clean but enough oil. They are available in several models, so all you need to do is pick the best fit for your car.

3. K&N fuel filters

K&N also builds filters that not only provide excellent fuel filtration but also enhance high flow rates—giving room for engines to work efficiently. Their fuel filters are reusable and can be used for several applications. Some K&N filters include

K&N OEM fuel filters for gasoline and diesel applications

These fuel filters are specifically designed for vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel.

They can efficiently remove contaminants, leaving you with a clean engine, and comes with a one-year replacement warranty. The warranty, however, is for gasoline applications.

K&N inline fuel filters for custom and racing application

This K&N fuel filter is designed for racing applications and can be used together with different types of fuel and oil. Their construction features a filter media made from steel, enhancing efficient filtration and high flow rate.

The filters come with micron ratings, so which rating you choose depends on the filtration and flow rate required by your application. It comes in several sizes, giving you several options.

K&N universal inline fuel filters for small and carbureted applications

If you drive a small or an old carbureted car that runs on gasoline, this fuel filter will come in handy. It’s specially formulated for a high flow rate thanks to its large filtration media. They are available in various models, making them suitable for any small or carbureted car.

are k&n air filters washable

Are K&N filters worth it?

Filters come in handy in making sure your vehicle runs only on clean fuel, oil, and air. So when a car’s stock filter wears out, there is a need to get a replacement filter. But that’s not even an issue, as many filter brands are out there to suit your needs and come at a low price.

However, many users instead choose the expensive K&N filters that cost 3-5× the standard filter. With this in mind, why do people choose expensive over cheap with the same function? Are K and N filters worth it? To answer that, one will need to look at it from different perspectives.

1. Cost-effectiveness and durability

The stock or ordinary air filters are made of paper which makes them unusable after working for certain miles. Yes! They are made as disposables and therefore made with cheap material–no wonder they are cheap. Hence, you must throw it away and buy another when it gets dirty.

However, K & N filters use more robust material–cotton gauze. This allows you to wash them when dirty and reuse them for many miles. Chances are you may only need less than five of their filters throughout your vehicle’s life so long as you maintain them properly. So yes, they are worth it because they are cost-effective.

2. Unrestricted flow

Standard or stock filters, while carrying out efficient filtration, come with certain flow restrictions due to their small filter media. Technically, while papers are good for filtration, they restrict flow.  However, K&N filters utilize a wider filtration media that allows high flow. The faster air, fuel, and oil get to where they are needed in the correct quantity, the better the engine performance.

The drawback here, according to users, is that the wide filtration media allow dirt into your car or engine. But do K&N filters let more dirt in? While many users will agree, K&N understand that a wider filter media would let in dirt, hence, the use of their tacky oil formula. A film of oil is sprayed outside the filter media, which helps capture dust and dirt without restricting flow. 

The only issue here will be that the oil doesn’t really capture dirt efficiently as a stock filter until they have accumulated some dirt. Meaning before this time, some particles may have escaped into the engine, invariably causing engine damage.  In other cases, it contaminate your cabin air.

3. Horsepower gain

You will likely gain more power since your air-fuel mixture quickly enters the combustion in huge amounts. Making it a good fit for performance or racing cars that have built engines with tuned airflow. If, however, you drive a regular car, the standard filters may be suitable for you as they can supply just enough air, oil, or fuel needed by your cabin or engine.

4. Warranty

Only quality product manufacturers confidently give warranties, and that’s where K&N stands out. Their filters come with warranty coverage, giving users the confidence to trust that their products will yield good returns on investment. But are K&N filters really worth it?  They’re worth it because you’re getting value for your money.

Pros and cons of K&N filters

While K&N filters come with enormous benefits, they also have some drawbacks.

Pros

  • Long lasting as they can stay the entire vehicle’s lifetime
  • Saves cost in the long run as they are washable and reusable
  • Allows unrestricted flow, which allows an efficient running engine

Cons

  • Expensive to buy as it costs 3-5 times the cost of standard filters
  • More cost will accrue since you will only use K&N filter oil and a special cleaning kit during cleaning, oiling, and reinstalling
  • Takes a lot of time to wash and re-oiling the filter for reuse
  • Doesn’t filter efficiently as stock filters; as such, dirt can enter the engine and damage it. So are K &N filters bad for your engine? In the long run, yes. But that’s only if you decide to continually wash and reuse the filters. However, in a fairly clean environment where your car isn’t exposed to too much dust, K&N filters would do you well.
  • It can destroy your mass airflow sensor and engine if filter media is oiled wrongly. While they don’t filter efficiently as stock filters, under-oiling makes the rate of dirt entering the engine high. In contrast, an over-oiled filter might leak oil into the MAF and destroy it.

FAQs

Q: Do K&N air filters really make a difference?

While other air filter brands use cellulose or synthetic non-woven fiber, K&N filters utilize an oiled cotton gauze filter media.  This not only makes the filter washable and reusable but also allows large amounts of air into the engine at a faster rate. When the ECU detects enough air entering the engine, it blends with the right amount of fuel.

With the air-fuel mixture in the right proportion, your engine performs efficiently and records little gain in horsepower. However, the K&N air filter would work more efficiently in cars with several modifications, like engine rebuilding. For cars with little or no modification, you may gain nothing rather than waste your money and have more dirt in your engine since K&N filters sucks at efficient filtering.

Q: Do K&N filters increase horsepower?

Yes! The faster your engine gets the right proportion of air and fuel, the more power it gains. Generally, K&N filters come with a wide filtration media that pumps in enough air, fuel, or oil your engine needs to perform. So yes, your performance will be better with the K&N filters than the OEM filters.

Q: Are K&N performance air filters worth it?

Firstly, because they are washable and reusable, they save you long-term costs. Secondly, K&N performance filters, because of their wide filtration media, pump in enough air into your engine. With your engine getting much air, your powertrain control module (PCM) also alerts the fuel delivery system to pump in more fuel.

With these mixtures in the right proportion, you will get more power. Hence a good fit for performance or race cars. While other modifications like fitting a performance exhaust, performance intake, and remapping the ECU improve performance, upgrading to a better air filter is a simpler way to gain more power.

For regular cars, the standard air filter can give you enough air to get your desired power.

So there is no need to pay extra for the K&N performance filters if you don’t drive a race car with such modifications. Moreover, it doesn’t even filter properly, resulting in debris entering your engine, building up over time, and causing premature engine wear. So are K&N air filters really worth it? Yes, but it depends mainly on your objective

Q: Does K&N filter air filter make car louder?

The larger the air filters and tubing, the louder the sound during acceleration. However, while this invariably improves sounds, it isn’t deafening. So if you love loud car sounds, you may need to make other modifications such as installing a downpipe or even removing your muffler.

Q: How long does K&N air filters last?

K&N air filters can last the entire lifetime of your vehicle and are covered by the K&N ten-year or one hundred thousand miles warranty. Here, with normal use, K&N filters can go over 50k miles before needing cleaning. Those air filters with larger cones with the K&N intakes can even go as long as 100k miles before needing cleaning.

Q: Do better air filters make a difference?

A better air filter will not only let clean air into your engine or cabin but will also enhance better air inflow. The larger the air, the more power gained. Generally, these air filters can make a difference in whatever application—whether race cars, motorcycles, or tractors.

With this in mind, you may ask, are K&N motorcycle air filters worth it? Yes! It works the same way it works for other cars. Just ensure you get the right fit for your motorcycle.

Q: Does K&N filter void warranty

Replacing old filters with an aftermarket part like the K&N filters will not void the warranty. Why? The consumer product warranty act allows you to keep your warranty and use aftermarket accessories.

However, while it won’t void the entire vehicle warranty, it can void something that goes wrong if it’s associated with the modifications made.

This means if something goes wrong and your car dealer can prove the filter upgrade caused it, they may not work on your vehicle freely. For example, if too much oil on the filter media fouls the MAF and damages it, you may need to pay for a replacement. However, if they cannot prove it, your warranty remains active. Plus, K&N also guarantees its users that they will stand behind their product.

Q: Why K&N filters are better?

K &N filters are better for several reasons. First, they can be washed and reused and therefore can serve you for long, invariably saving cost. In contrast, the paper or oiled foamed OEM filters require you to change them after certain miles.

Secondly, their wide filtration media allows a high motor oil, air, or fuel flow, giving your engine what it needs to work efficiently. However, this is especially useful for drivers who have modified their engines. So if you drive with a stock engine, your stock filters should provide just enough air, oil, or fuel your car or engine needs.

K & N Filters – Superior Service & Versatile Uses

With all discussed above, are K&N filters worth it? Yes, they are. Because they are washable and reusable, they save costs in the long run. Their large filtration media allows more air, fuel, and oil flow which invariably improves power. However, it takes lots of time to wash and re-oil the filters for re-use, which many find daunting.

The biggest disadvantage, however, will be when the filters are oiled wrongly. Underoiling will let excess dirt into your engine since the oil helps trap dirt. With overfilling, oil can drain and contaminate the mass airflow sensor and damage it, which must be replaced. So now you know k&N filters, are they worth it? Yes, but it depends on why you need them.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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