If you’re wondering if you can vacuum your air intake pod/cone filter, the answer is probably yes!
Imagine this, you’re out on a long road trip and you notice that your MPG’s aren’t all that great and performance at the top end is lacking, yet you don’t know why. You peek under the hood and you notice you haven’t once cleaned your air filter on the newfangled air intake you bought three years ago, a slight flick on the filter throws dust up and everywhere. It’s full of dirt. But what can you do? Can you shake it out a bit? Or how about a quick vacuum? Yes, you can probably safely do both!
But, don’t take my word for it, according to AFE Intakes, one of the world’s authorities on aftermarket intakes (they know their stuff) you can return your air intake filter up to 85 percent effectivness just by tapping it, let alone vacuuming it. Click here to read more!
In addition, I’ve embedded the instructions in an image below.
Keep in mind, if you’ve got one of those filters that has oil already in it or you’ve sprayed oil on it, these methods probably won’t work for you.
Also, these methods probably aren’t for OEM paper filters, once you should only use once. This is for panel and cone/pod filters meant to be reused for the life of your car, that explicitly state so. Usually, these filters are much more robust than OEM paper filters, have a metal mesh supporting the air filter structure, and are cleanable. Car guys will know what I mean.
As you can see in the instructions above, a couple of light taps top and bottom is enough to loosen any dirt that’s clogging your air filter. As mentioned, a couple of taps is all you need to clean a lot of dirt.
The next best thing is the shop vac method. First, lightly suck any dirt using no attachments, just the open mouth of an extension hose like the photo. Then, if you have a soft bristle attachment, you can gently work your shop vac suction into the filter pleats, making sure not to damage the filter media, although you probably won’t. Do not vacuum the inside, only the outside.
If you’re careful and you get a good chunk of dirt out, pat yourself on the back, you’ve just cleaned your air filter cleaner, giving you enough time to when you can REALLY clean your filter with some sort of cleaning solution. Please refer to your manufacturer’s website or manual for specifics.
TL;DR- Yes, you can vacuum your intake but very gently. You’ll restore airflow and power that you lost.