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The Controversy over using a K&N air filter in a 2015 Ford F-150

The value of using K&N oiled air filters is hotly-debated. Some Ford F-150 owners say you should never use them while others say they boost power and performance.

An F-150 owner touched off the firestorm, in the Ford F-150 forum, with a simple question. Kenny asked “K&N filter? Yes or No, Why?” Just a day later, he has received four pages of replies, some nice, some helpful and some that are quite dismissive. There is even one reply from K&N.

K&N markets their air filters as lasting forever with a little maintenance. They are more expensive than the disposable ones. They claim that their oiled filters catch more dust and dirt and allow vehicles to run better.

Benz was first to respond in a matter of minutes. He says “Oiled filters screw with the mass air flow sensor to say the least. There's no pros to outweigh the cons with a drop in K&N filter on a modern engine. Dry filters can be reused as well, mine is washable.”

CBR says “I am not a fan of K&N filters especially on turbo engines. S&B and AFE make some really good dry and cotton filters that perform very well and filter as good as stock.”

Another F-150 owner defends the K&N. “I've had a K&N on my Raptor for 6+ years. An oiled filter is only an issue if you don't know how to re-oil it. Too much oil can cause problems, but doing most things wrong causes problems.”

Bubba from Arizona says the increased air-flow is a non-issue. “For the price of a K&N oiled filter and recharge kit you could replace better filtering paper filters for the life of the truck. Regardless of co. claims and dyno charts you will not see any increase in performance on a turbo engine [ The turbo's compensate for any reduced air flow by simply turning faster the same way they compensate for higher elevation]. In the end the amount of air fed to the engine is controlled entirely by the ECM and the throttle body and the stock paper filter will flow much more air than the engine can use.”

Rick, from Michigan, issues a warning “Dozens of threads on this. Stay away, no upside, only problems.”

An Ohio driver says he learned his lesson the hard way. “I will never put another K&N oiled filer in any of my vehicles. I had a K&N CAI on my 2010 Mustang, Ended up having to replace the MAF sensor acouple of times, clean the whole intake system and replace the oil filer with a standard filter to fix my various CEL issues.”

K&N posted a lengthy statement on the Ford F-150 forum site. The company claims that dealerships bad-mouth the K&N because it stops them from selling more disposable air filters. The statement says, in part, “We are aware of the "urban myth" (K&N News Story) created by a few dealerships that a vehicle's MAF sensor can be contaminated by K&N filter oil. No evidence has ever been provided to support this "myth" and years of diagnostic testing by K&N has shown that not only is this allegation not real, it is not even possible. In our opinion, it is an excuse for a dealership and/or the vehicle manufacturer to avoid a legitimate warranty repair.”

A driver called PT says he has had tremendous luck using K&N filters over the years. “I have had at least 6 FORD's with K&N air filters including my current 2016 F150 2.7L EB, 2013 Explorer 2L EB and 2013 CMAX with 144K mi. on the ODO and 110K mi. on the air fliter(never worked on) with no problems, all experienced improved acceleration.”

A Montana Ford F-150 owner named Max says he has recently made a change, “I have ran oiled air filters in the past and have also had issues with them saturating the MAFS, even right out of the box. That is why I went with the dry element AEM filter. Just wash it out, dry it and your good-to-go.”

Regardless of the question about using oiled filters, another driver says it all comes down to dollars and cents. “If you replace your oem paper filter at 30,000 recommended, you would be at 150,000 before you saved a nickel on the purchase of a K&N drop in filter and this is not including the price of the recharge kit if you service the K&N.”


grant Reid (not verified)    December 2, 2017 - 3:47AM

What people fail to mention is the fact that a filter that does not filter as well as the std paper ones will wear rings and bores out prematurely thus shortening engine life. Longevity of engines does no matter so much on performance vehicles but it does to budget conscious families!