Advantages and Disadvantages of a K&N Air Intake System

July 2, 2012

For those in the market for an air intake system, a K&N air intake system is often recommended, and rightly so. A popular choice not just because of K&N’s extensive history and great reputation, K&N intake systems offer proven performance gains for minimal cost and installation effort. Like any product however, these are not without their downsides. To understand the full picture when it comes to the K&N intake, a break down of the product‘s advantages and disadvantages can be especially helpful in understanding exactly what you are buying.

Advantages of Buying K&N

K&N products will not void your vehicle’s warranty and, in some cases, sold by the dealership. Which means you can increase your vehicle’s performance without worrying about problems later on. K&N intakes use a reusable filter which reduces costs down the road, and allows the owner to clean and re-oil the filter, as environmental conditions warrant by using a reasonably priced filter oil kit and cleaning products. While many intake kits will draw their air from the inner fender well or lower portion of the bumper, most K&N filters choose a safer location and use a supplied heat shield to help keep out hot engine bay air. While this may result in slightly lower power increases, it also means that should rainy or wet weather surprise you, you can continue driving without worrying about water ingestion, and the severe engine damage that results from it.

K&N air filters are covered by a million mile warranty, which means you will only ever need to purchase a single filter, while many other brands will have you purchasing new elements every 1 to 2 years or more.

Disadvantages of Buying K&N

As mentioned above, the location of the filter in most K&N intake systems tends to be in a position that is safer and less likely to ingest water. While this greatly improves reliability, for those living in extensively dry climates, a traditional cold air intake may provide moderately higher power increases on some vehicles. Because K&N filters use an oiled filtering element, there may be long term problems in vehicles equipped with mass air flow sensors, as oil can build up over time and cause fouling or errors in the sensor which require cleaning. While none of these are especially large concerns, one problem for those living in California, is that K&N intake systems are not CARB exempt, meaning they are not legal for use on public roads. It should be noted that this only applies to K&N’s air intake systems, and not the filter itself, which does not violate any of California’s strict emissions laws.

There are very few reasons not to buy a K&N intake system, as with K&N products, you always know what you are getting. Power gains are proven and displayed for each individual application, and their products are backed by extensive warranties. If you are unsure about which intake system is the best choice for your vehicle, K&N is a safe bet, and one that will not cause any warranty concerns down the road.

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