Cars and Trucks

Your Guide to Cold Air Intake Filter Cleaning

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What Is Cold Air Intake Filter Cleaning?

Cold air intake filter cleaning is necessary to maintain the fuel economy of your car. When properly maintained, the cold air intake will increase the car’s horsepower by increasing the flow of air to the engine. It also can help improve your gas mileage as it will improve combustion and ensure that all of the fuel is properly ignited.

Keeping your cold air intake well-maintained requires that your filter be properly cleaned and free of debris. Since so much air regularly passes through the filter, it can quickly become covered in dust and grime. A good rule of thumb is to clean your cold air intake filter every time that you need to have your oil changed. The process is simple and only takes a few minutes.

Types of Cold Air Intake Filter Cleaners

There are three types of cold air intake filter cleaners you can choose from. Choosing the right one will depend on the method you prefer for application and the type of debris on your air filter.

  • Aerosols: Aerosol options, like K&N Air Filter Oil which is formulated to penetrate and saturate the pleats of your air filter quickly and easily to loosen and remove grime.
  • Spray: Spray options, like K&N Air Filter Cleaner and Degreaser, uses a targeted direct spray method to reach the pleats on your filter. The spray contains a degreasing agent which helps to quickly dissolve the grime and buildup on your filter.
  • Kits: You can also opt for an intake filter cleaning kit, like Volant 5100 Recharge/Cleaning Kit for Gas Engines. The kit includes both a cleaner to remove debris from your filter and an air filter oil to help maximize your filter’s efficiency.

    How to Choose a Cold Air Intake Filter Cleaner

    When choosing the right filter cleaner for your cold air intake, it is critical to find one that can thoroughly saturate the filter and properly dissolve the dirt and grime without damaging the pleats. The cleaner should be gentle but have powerful degreasing properties to be able to work through tough buildup. You also want to be sure that your cleaner does not leave any residue behind.

    Since part of the process involves oiling your filter after cleaning, you may want to choose a kit so you have both the cleaner and oil from the same brand to maximize results.

    One important thing to note when choosing your cleaning kit is making sure you choose the right one for the model of air filter in your car. Each kit is colored and the color of the kit is designed to match the color of the air filter it’s made to clean. Make sure that you choose one that matches to ensure the filter is cleaned properly without risking damaging it.

    How to Use Cold Air Intake Filter Cleaner

    Disclaimer: The guidelines in this story are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual or repair guide before attempting repairs.

    The process of cleaning your cold air intake filter is simple and only requires a few simple steps to get your filter back in shape and functioning as it should.

    Step 1: Preparation

    You will need to start by removing the filter from your vehicle. After opening the hood, clean the sealing area that contains the filter and the filter housing unit with a clean microfiber rag. Then, use a screwdriver to loosen the mounting band on the air filter and gently pull the filter free.

    Step 2: Clean the Filter

    Start by gently tapping your filter on a hard surface which will help to loosen and remove some of the larger, dry particles and debris from the pleats. If you still see bugs or other large pieces you can use a soft brush to loosen or remove them.

    Liberally apply the filter cleaning solution, making sure to get into the crevices of the filter. By the time the application is done the filter should be saturated. The cleaner should stay on the filter for as long as indicated on the cleaner bottle or package.

    After the cleaner has had time to work, you will need to rinse the cleaner out of the filter thoroughly. Use warm, low pressure water and part the pleats gently to make sure all of the cleaner is removed. There should be no visible residue left from the cleaner when you’re done.

    Step 3: Dry Your Filter

    After rinsing, you will want to lightly shake the excess water out of your filter to allow it to dry quicker. While you can proceed to the next step after allowing the filter to dry for 30 minutes to an hour, for optimal results you should let your filter dry overnight if possible.

    Step 4: Oil Your Filter

    The next step is to oil your filter. This will help to prevent corrosion and also protect against heavy dirt buildup. Determine how much oil your filter will need and fill the applicator up with the correct amount. Start in the middle of the filter and make two or three passes around the middle of the filter, applying the oil.

    Repeat this same process in even spaces to the top and bottom of the filter to ensure an even coat while making sure not to over oil the air filter. Then, allow the oil to seep into the filter for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Step 5: Inspection and Reinstallation

    Allow the oil to dry and then inspect the filter, checking for white areas to find spots the oil missed. If you find any, use the applicator to apply a small amount of oil to these spots and let dry. Once the oil has completely dried on the filter, use your screwdriver to remount the filter. Wipe the surface of the seal with a clean cloth once installed.

    Keeping your cold air intake filter clean and well maintained will improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and help your engine to perform better for longer.

    Where to Buy Cold Air Intake Filter Cleaner

    Volant 5100 Recharge/Cleaning Kit for Gas Engines

    K&N Air Filter Cleaner and Degreaser: Power Kleen; 32 Oz Trigger Spray; Restore Engine Air Filter Performance, 99-0621

    K&N Air Filter Oil: 12.25 Oz Aerosol; Restore Engine Air Filter Performance and Efficiency, 99-0516

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