Spectre vs K&N Intake Systems Review: Key Things to Know

Spectre vs K&N Intake Systems Review: Key Things to Know
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Clean air filters – something so small yet so indispensable for your vehicle. And, debated as they might be – cold air intake systems are one of America’s more popular car modifications. And when we talk about these aftermarket intakes, two brands battle it out: Spectre vs K&N intake systems.

Before comparing them, here’s something that might shock you. In 2011, K&N sued Spectre for false advertising and won (read the full news here). A few years later, they actually bought Spectre. So, as far as I’ve seen, K&N owns and manufactures both brands right now. Mind-boggling, right?

Now, let’s see how they differ from each other – starting with their air filters.

K&N vs Spectre Air Filters Review: Full Comparison 

Quite a few people think K&N air filters are overpriced (check prices here). They have a point because there is a price difference, considering Spectre filters deliver similar results at a better price tag. Let’s explore this some more.

Spectre Offers a Better Price Tag

K&N’s strong point is the increased airflow (high-flow air filter design) and washable filters. However, this airflow design increase can become a drawback if you drive in areas especially high on fine dust as it doesn’t really protect the engine from pollutants. As far as the washing/cleaning goes – yes, these reusable air filters will save you money, and they’re also better for the environment.

02/18/2024 01:25 pm GMT Lasso Brag

What about increased HP? It’s debatable how tangible the power gain is, but that’s not the primary reason you should get an air filter anyways. For most stock cars and casual usage, I’d say you can save a bit with Spectre performance air filters. Since K&N bought them, the quality has stepped up quite a bit:

  • Performance-grade synthetic filter helps provide more air flow, making them much more effective than paper filters.
  • Comes with a sealing edge for better sealing and engine protection.
  • Pre-oiled and goes live with easy plug-and-play installation.
  • They come with a limited lifetime warranty and in some cases, a full lifetime warranty.

K&N Intake Offers Better Construction

However, if you’re into racing or tinkering with horsepower gains and throttle response, K&N is a better choice. It’s worth it. There’s a reason why Nascar, Le Mans, and similar races rely on K&N’s quality products for their filtration needs.

With this type of air intake system, however, I’d 100% go with K&N’s original manufacturer like this system. There’s a simple reason for this: the polished aluminum tube construction with the FIPK or AirCharger series.

These K&N intakes are made of tough, high-density polyethylene. The material looks less shiny and cool than Spectre cold air intake kits. However, the non-metal tube intake construction is guaranteed to make your system run cooler in the engine compartment. Additionally, it might help with the intake running a little quieter at speed. But don’t worry – you’ll still have that satisfying growl upon acceleration.

Custom-engineered, durable, and reliable – with a 1 000 000 mile warranty, K&N takes the cold air intake kit crown. Please continue reading for a comparison between the different K&N CAIs.

K&N Engine Air Filter
  • Washable so you save money and nature.
  • Better airflow due to its smart design.
  • Great for racing, but a bit expensive for casual use.
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02/18/2024 01:25 pm GMT

Want to save a few bucks on intakes to?

You can still go with Spectre cold air intakes. Just remember that the otherwise beautiful chrome finish on the mandrel-bent tube will conduct more heat. 

Things are the same with K&N’s Typhoon intakes which have a similar metal appearance.

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02/18/2024 01:42 pm GMT

The Anatomy of K&N Cold Air Intake Systems: FIPK vs Typhoon vs AirCharger vs Blackhawk Review

There are 4 main types of K&N intakes, which confuses many people. Let’s break these down for your convenience to help you chose the right one.

One of the first things you must consider is which CAI is CARB legal. FIPK and Typhoon are CARB-legal and street-legal in all US states. The newest Blackhawk 71-series cold air intake isn’t. The classic AirCharger series isn’t street-legal, according to CARB, either. 

The second consideration you should have is what exactly are the different CAIs recommended for.

FIPK and Typhoon are Great for Performance Street Use

The chrome Typhoon (check prices here) gives you a little more edge when accelerating, with an initial power boost. FPIK is more mellow, but it optimizes motor performance later on. It also pairs really well with the VTEC system Honda cars utilize.

Spectre vs K&N

AirCharger and Blackhawk are absolute beasts when it comes to offroad adventures, racing matters, and noticeable power gains. The polyethylene here is molded, not bent, and minimizes heat soaking. Another huge improvement with these is the filter on top.

The cutting-edge, extra-powerful Blackhawk (see different styles here) demonstrates it the best, with an oil-free synthetic filter that achieves maximum airflow. Its design, paired with K&N’s newest DRYFLOW filtration tech (aka dry filter), also provides enhanced engine protection.

The intake tube is made of polished aluminum intake tubing instead of metal intake pipes. This means a lighter CAI that also dissipates heat better, especially since it’s paired with the black powder-coated heat shield. 

Generally speaking, all of these are relatively easy to install and require basic tools – it should take no more than 2 hours or so, even for beginners. If you’re experienced, I bet you will be able to install these in an hour with simple hand tools. Here’s a wonderful overview/tutorial on how to install the Typhoon 69 intake system to get you started:

Things are similar with the brand’s other CAI types – only the AirCharger might be a bit tougher due to the longer, internally larger tube.

Spectre vs K&N Intakes and Air Filters: The Final Verdict

There’s a lot to write about K&N vs Spectre cool air intakes and air filters. Heck, you could probably write a full 50-page research paper on them. However, time is money – and I tried my best to give a condensed, informational summary that’s easy to digest.

I believe you can save a bit of money on air filters and go with the more affordable option. If you’re looking at cold air intakes, though, splurging on one a bit more will yield fantastic results. Just make sure you’re getting a CAI that’s legal in your state and suits your needs.

Have you used K&N or Spectre intake? What is your experience with Spectre vs K&N cold air intakes or filters? Do you prefer the Spectre vs K&N or vice versa? Hit up the comments and let me and my readers know!


Will a Cold Air Intake Hurt My Engine?

No. A properly installed and maintained cold air intake will not harm your engine. It can actually provide several benefits. If installed improperly, a cold air intake could cause problems such as hydro-lock, which is when water gets sucked into the engine and causes damage. However, if you install the cold air intake correctly and maintain it properly, it should not harm your engine.

Does Cold Air Intake Make a Car Louder?

When you install a cold air intake, it allows more air to flow into the engine, which can produce a deeper and more aggressive sound. Additionally, some cold air intakes have a larger diameter than the factory air intake, which can also contribute to a louder sound. However, the exact degree of the sound increase will depend on the specific cold air intake and the car’s engine.

Is Spectre a Good Cold Air Intake?

Spectre is a popular brand of cold air intakes that offer several benefits to drivers looking to improve their vehicle’s performance. While some drivers may prefer more expensive and well-known brands, Spectre cold air intakes are a great option for those on a budget or those looking to experiment with cold air intakes for the first time. Overall, Spectre is a good choice for a cold air intake for everyday use that won’t break the bank.

Is Spectre the Same as K&N?

Are K&N and Spectre the same, you might ask? No, Spectre is not the same as K&N. While both companies produce cold air intakes and air filters, they are separate entities with their own unique products. Spectre tends to be a more affordable brand, while K&N is known for producing high-end performance parts. 

Is a K&N Air Intake Worth It?

A K&N cold air intake can be a great way to improve the performance of your vehicle and get a little extra power under the hood. K&N intakes are designed to increase airflow to the engine, which can result in improved horsepower, better throttle response, and a more aggressive engine sound. Additionally, K&N has washable and reusable filters, which can save you money in the long run. 


While K&N air intakes tend to be more expensive than some other options on the market, the increased performance and reusable air filters make it a worthwhile investment. However, it’s important to do your research and make sure a K&N air intake is compatible with your vehicle before making a purchase.

How Much HP Does K&N Cold Air Intake Add?

The amount of horsepower that a K&N cold air intake can add to a vehicle can vary depending on several factors, such as the specific make and model of the vehicle and the type of K&N cold air intake being used. However, K&N claims that their cold air intakes can add an average of 10 horsepower to a vehicle’s engine. Of course, the actual increase in horsepower may be more or less than this depending on the individual circumstances. 

Which Intake Adds More Horsepower?

Which intake adds the most horsepower, you might ask? The exact amount of horsepower added will depend on several factors. In general, when it comes to Spectre vs K&N, K&N cold air intakes tend to be more expensive than Spectre cold air intakes, but they also typically provide a slightly greater increase in horsepower. 


That being said, Spectre cold air intakes are still a great option for drivers looking to improve their vehicle’s performance at a more affordable price point. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your individual needs and budget.


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