The purpose of a car air filter is to allow clean air into your engine to combine with the atomized fuel and thus produce power. As your air filter gets used, it becomes clogged with dirt, dust and other airborne particles. When this happens, it’s necessary to change or clean your air filter in order to maintain performance and MPGs. The steps involved with cleaning your air filter varies between the two types (oiled vs. dry) – read on to learn the differences!
Oiled vs. Dry Filters
The biggest (and most obvious) difference between the two types of air filters is that one is coated with oil and one is not. This translates to the cleaning process – oiled air filters require an extra step due to re-oiling. Dry air filters, generally made of cotton gauze (like the Spectre Air Filter) or paper, are denser and are more restrictive than their oiled counterparts. In order to maximize airflow, oiled air filters are comprised of several loose layers that are coated in sticky oil to catch debris. While dry filters clog faster than oiled filters with a less restricted flow – they’re also faster to clean.
Cleaning Your Car Air Filter
Follow these steps when cleaning your car air filter. Bear in mind that each car’s setup may vary, especially if you have done modifications to your engine.
- Open your hood and remove your air filter from its housing on the top of your engine. The housing will look like a rectangular or round box, depending on the shape of your filter.
- For a dry filter, use the hose attachment of a vacuum to absorb the dust and dirt that has collected. Do a quick vacuum of the filter housing as well. Skip to step #7.
- For an aftermarket oiled filter, such as a K&N Air Filter or aFe Filter, spray with the cleanser from a recharging or cleaning kit. Allow it to soak for 10 minutes (do not allow the cleanser to dry on the filter). Suggested cleaning supplies include the K&N Filter Recharger Kit or the aFe Air Filter Cleaning Kit – both include either an aerosol can or squeeze bottle.
- Rinse the cleaning solution off with low-pressure water. Move the filter up and down in the water stream to loosen and remove all debris.
- Gently shake off any excess water and allow the air filter to air dry.
- Using the filter oil from your cleaning kit (this is different from the cleanser in your kit), apply the oil all over the filter. Wipe up any extra oil and let it sit to absorb.
- Return your air filter to its housing, making sure to secure all locks or clamps.
Choosing the Best Air Filter
The type of air filter you choose and subsequently use is solely up to your discretion, what you use your car for, and perhaps other modifications you have in place – like an air intake system. To protect your filter from the elements, the Injen Hydro Shield is an extra piece that sits on top of your performance air filter and repels water and tiny particles from entering your engine. Be sure to read our air filter customer reviews to choose the best air filter for your lifestyle and vehicle.