Daily Driver Maintenance with K&N Cold Air Intake
I put a lot of miles on my street rod. To date, it’s got about 180,000 on the clock since its Street Rod life started in the early 80’s. I also put a lot of miles on my daily commuter car. Currently, that car is a 2015 Mazda 6. I bought the cheapest model I could, so I could customize it and not feel bad about discarding or upgrading factory attempts at “cool”, with my own spin on what I think makes an appealing car. Well...that, and I’m cheap.
Improvements in week-one included peeling all the badges that left no holes, a massive drop on coil-overs and a set of OE appearing 19”x9” wheels. Add to that, a short-throw shift kit on the 6 speed and window tint so dark that law enforcement cannot see me thumbing my nose at them.
That left one thing left to add to my list of appearance and performance improvements for the new driver, a cold air intake. I selected K&N because their name is synonymous with performance air filtration in the industry. Plus, I could buy it at work. At the time we weren’t yet offering the wide variety of K&N products that we now do. I special ordered the kit and with the next stocking order we received, I had more parts to install on the new toy. Installation went smoothly and the instructions supplied were more than adequate. Typical of the K&N experience from what I’ve found.
Flash forward to 60,000 miles. I’m not certain what the suggested interval is for the cleaning of the element in this type of system is, I think it’s actually 100k. 60k seemed like a good time to do it being such a round number and with my factory warranty expiring and all. Once I got the element off and noted how dirty the underside was, I was certain this was a good call.
I followed the directions on the cleaner and sprayed the cotton filter media inside and out and allowed it to do its work on the gathered gunk for about 10 minutes. After that I rinsed away all the debris and gathered dirt and oil with tap water from the inside out.
I went a little off-script when it came to the drying step. I make the disclaimer here that K&N advises you let the filter dry naturally. I’m the type of guy who’s never actually waited for the paint to cure before attempting assembly on a project. If you look closely, my finger prints are always enshrined somewhere.
Besides, this thing needed to be ready to report for duty in the morning to make the 120 mile round trip to the office. I found a sport bottle (that I’ve obviously had since the Vulcan Drifter Paint Spill of ’12) that was the perfect size and improvised a pneumatic drying nozzle. I think the main concern with using compressed air to dry or clean a filter is the risk of damage to the media and the weakening of the pleats or fiber. This indirect blowing method seemed to avoid those pitfalls while totally drying the filter in about five minutes.
After the drying step, I was back on track to follow the directions given. They recommend oiling each pleat and allowing it to sit for 20 minutes to soak in. Then reapply where there are any light spots in the red tinted oil film. Pro-tip, do this over cardboard or the trash can to avoid an oily floor.