Can a better air filter improve fuel economy? We'll find out...

K&N Filters
K&N Filters. K&N

Today I got a couple of items for review from K&N Engineering. Horsepower-hungry car enthusiasts love K&N's high-flow air filters for the extra power they provide. I'm interested in seeing their effect on fuel economy. K&N doesn't officially claim that their filters boost fuel economy, though anecdotal evidence says otherwise. What they do say is that their filters effectively stay cleaner longer -- and a dirty air filter will cause a decrease in mileage.

Paper filters, which most cars use, are supposed to be changed every 15,000 miles. The oiled-cotton K&N filter does its thing for 50,000 miles -- and instead of throwing it away, you clean it and reinstall it. So I'm going to give it a try. Over the next week I'll be logging the fuel economy of my wife Robin's Honda Accord wagon. Then I'll install the K&N filter they sent and we'll see what the differences are, both on my super-secret test loop and in Robin's everyday driving.

K&N also sent a Typhoon cold air intake system. Cold air intakes are popular with gearheads because a) they look cool and b) they increae power. There is absolutely nothing cool about my wife's station wagon except the woman driving it, but power is definitely an issue. Robin hauls lots of heavy stuff day in and day out, and that means using every bit of power the Accord's 4-cylinder engine can muster. Honda didn't offer a V6 engine in the Accord wagon, but if they did I don't know if we'd want one.

Oh, the car could definitely use more thrust -- but with gas at $3.35 per gallon, the last thing we need is another two hungry cylinders to feed. If the Typhoon can produce more useable power without an adverse affect on fuel economy, then I think it's time the gearheads stop keeping these things to themselves.

Once we see what the K&N filter does, I'll install the Typhoon. Stay tuned to the blog for updates. -- Aaron Gold