Pod Versus ElementTo pod or not to pod, that is the question. Having used a drop-in K&N Filter Element for over a year now, I wanted know if there are any noticable improvements in using a Pod Filter versus a Panel Filter. We've gone through the K&N Filter Element in previous articles but let's sum up the results again.
K&N Filter Element
I was extremely impressed with the K&N Filter Element. K&N is a respected American company who manufactures filters for performance cars through to Apache helicopters. I've had no quarms with their product and find it's perfect drop-in replacement for the EXA.
The benefits were:
- Improved torque and power (i've tested this on the road and on the dyno)
- Million mile warranty - You never have to change it. Just wash and re-oil it every 30-40000kms or so.
- Easy installation. It takes about five minutes to remove your old paper filter and slot this straight in. There are no problems with Air Flow Meters (AFM) and you don't need an adaptor.
Anyhow, I'm not sure what possessed me to goto a Pod Filter but I decided to go for it and see if it it made a difference.
Pod Versus Element - Pod InstallationSimota Pod Filter
Simota filters are manufactured in Taiwan unlike their K&N counterpart. They look similar to a K&N and are surprisingly a good quality item, but unfortunately they don't include the million mile guarantee. But their winning factor in recent times is their price. I bought mine for $50aud on sale at Autobarn, Adelaide. But with the EXA having an AFM it required an adaptor. I bought a Redline adaptor for $20 from the same place. That's $70 all up! So I figured if it didn't work I'll just put the airbox and K&N back in.
FYI Redline Bracket to fit Nissan
Here's the Stock Airbox with the K&N Filter
Removing the original bracket.
Unscrew the four screws connecting the bracket to the plastic airbox.
Then remove the vacuum pipe (used for preventing backfire) from the airbox.
Disconnect the AFM Plug and then remove the intake completely (this helps with putting the pod on).
You can see our K&N Filter peeking out from the hole.
Remove the screws (two) attaching the airbox to passenger side wall. Then push the airbox towards the motor to loosen.
On the back of the airbox is a metal bracket which holds various plumbing. To remove this bracket there are two screws on either side and one in the centre.
Then it simply drops off.
Now you can completely remove the airbox by wrigglying it around.
You'll notice the bracket containing the plumbing is just dangling around. We just made up a right angled bracket to hold this in place.
Remember how we disconnected part of the intake pipe, well now just give it a clean inside and out with a dry cloth to remove any dirt. And attach the Redline adaptor (it should match up with the four holes).
Then attach the Pod filter on the end of this and tighten using the supplied screw. (Make sure that the center of the pod filter isn't loose, as there has been a problem with cars (esp. turbos) drawing the plastic part of the filter through the intake pipe and causing engine damage!)
Then reattach the whole intake pipe/air filter assembly, and reconnect the AFM.
Notice how the vacuum pipe isn't being used anymore?
Just plug a small filter on it, or in my case a small piece of home air-conditioner filter paper.
All done! Just start her up and test her out.
Pod Versus Element - The Drive & Conclusion
Started her up.
Nothing sounded out of place, idle was a little higher than usual but the ECU quickly adapted and brought it back down to 800rpm. Got the car up to normal operating temperature. Shut her down and then started her up again to see if it was simple to start as before. Yep no problems on start-up again, got easier second time. No black-smoke and wasn't running rich. I think it's time to take her for a spin.
On first gear it felt less bogged down! Yep it's true there's more power under 3500rpm. From further testing, I attribute this gain to both improved airflow and the cleaning of the intake pipe + Mass Airflow Sensor + emission plumbing.
Let's see how the rest of the gears go. Third and fourth gears we're solid (more so on third), and by throttling on-off you could actually here the suction noise (it's quite loud actually). This definately made an improvement, more so during colder weather so I'd firstly suggest a cold-air intake as the next modification.
On idle the car is quite a bit noisier. Can't really help that though. Actually I don't mind it too much personally at least I know an air-filter is at work rather than having a suffocating airbox.
Simota or K&N in the end? We've had a few debates ranging from issues such as oil/non-oiled, taiwan-made/U.S. made, pod/filter, etc. Personally I feel that the Simota Pod has made a difference even without a cold-air box. However for a stock replacement without too much hassle the K&N was excellent as it was much better than the factory paper filter.
Having only SOYP (Seat Of Your Pants) testing to go by and no G-tech or dyno read-outs it would be difficult to tell the difference. I would say that science would dictate that the surface to air ratio of the pod style filters make it more efficient than panel filters. However you have to consider the fact that a K&N will probably last a little longer being manufacturered to a higher quality. On the downside it uses oil which sometimes screws up the mass-airflow-sensor on Nissans. Then comes the price. A pod filter for fifty bucks? Sounds cheap and nasty. I can assure you that it's not. But as they say, you do get what you pay for. And if I had the chance to test out a HKS or Trust filter (non-oiled) I would definately give it a try since receiving so many positive comments about their products (especially on highly modified na's or turbos).
In the end though, i'm happy with the Simota setup. I'll leave it for a few more thousand kays and report back to you on whether i'm still pleased that it is doing it's job.