The engine air filter is the one thing that keeps your engine functioning at an optimal level. Without it all sorts of dirt, debris, bugs, and other potentially destructive things will happily become part of the combustion process. Run the engine long enough without one and you can expect degraded performance and decreased life. You don’t like to breathe in dust and bugs right? Your car doesn’t like it either.
So to keep Mother Nature’s junk out from where it doesn’t belong, a filter, similar to the ones found in your home’s furnace, sits right in front of the intake manifold. The filter’s design exhibits layers of cotton gauze combined with layers of aluminum mesh to help keep its pleated form. Plastic is then molded around the filter core to give it structural rigidity, so it can be mounted in the airbox while keeping a tight seal.
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The video below shows how the popular filter company, K&N, builds their filters as well as their other intake products. The process might look simple, but the thought of having to build to many different specifications and sizes, make filter manufacturing a pretty tough looking business.