When I last changed my air filter, I noticed that the bargain filter element had failed. The glue
used to hold the fiber webbing to the black plastic frame had not held. I replaced it with
a "Purolator Premium", which has two additional plastic ribs holding the filter media in
place. The filter element cost over $21. What are my options for an after market air
cleaner with washable filter media?
You endanger your engine by using bargain filters, which may pass large dust
and dirt particles into your intake. The leakage may be from a poor fit, materials that
aren't built to last, or inadequate filtering material. This may easily affect how long
the engine lasts, so there is NO money saved-- quite the opposite...
The OEM stock replacement drop-in and the K&N drop-in elements are both made to
much tighter tolerances than bargain filters, and both provide very good filtering. The
K&N is re-usable, but it is close to twice the price of the OEM filter (~$40). But it
is still the more economical choice, since it is only a one-time purchase. Because
of its design, the K&N drop-in is also a bit less restrictive than the stock filter,
so you will see a slight increase in horsepower.
The choice that many of us on the Team3S list have made is to replace the stock
airbox entirely, with a K&N FIPK (Filter Injection Performance Kit, ~$145). It is an
oval housing and element, installed in about 1/2 hr, which is totally legal and still
maintains your warranty. It comes with a CARB-rated, numbered metal sticker,
with chapter & verse references for emissions inspectors, and a warning to service
techs NOT to discard the filter element, since it is re-usable. This oil-treated filter
needs infrequent cleaning (except in VERY dusty environments), and it actually works
BETTER, the dirtier it gets! It has the added benefit of letting much more air into your
throttle body, which probably prolongs the life of your engine by making it work
less hard at high revs to get the air it needs. Because of its truncated oval cone
design, the FIPK has close to twice as much surface area as the stock filter.
And another "little perk"-- it gives you a nice, healthy boost to your stock horsepower.
You can FEEL the difference! When we tested a Stealth NT on a dyno after installing
an FIPK recently, it showed a 6 HP gain over stock! (The bigger engines will surely
show more like 12 hp - and K&N claims up to 15 hp). It feels like the engine had been
'held back' with the stock airbox. Even if you're not into "mods", this is a smart, simple
modification that everyone should make. Highly Recommended!
Recent independent tests have shown the FIPK to be the best aftermarket filter out there,
but it isn't the only one... Many other filters are available that are better than the
stock filter - including offerings from Stillen, and others. That discussion will be
added to our Team3S FAQ Pages shortly.