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Discussion Starter #1
I do my own oil changes with Mobil One, and have been using K&N Oil Filters for several years. I follow Honda's Mileage Minder which for us is often approx. 10K miles between oil changes. I started using K&N Oil Filters since I thought they were a higher quality product, and I came to really like the 1 inch bolt-head on the bottom, since it made them super easy to install and remove with a 1 inch socket wrench.

Well, about a year ago I noticed our CR-V was low 1 quart of oil and traced it to a leaking oil filter. It dripped slowly but only when the engine was running, and only after operating fine for over a thousand miles. The leak seemed to be from around where the 1 inch bolt-head was on the filter, and at that time I attributed it to possible road debris impact despite no visible damage to the filter. I had some doubts because the CR-V oil filter location is pretty far up and out of the way. I replaced that leaking filter and all seemed fine. The next filter seemed fine too. That brings me to the latest filter, which had the same exact symptoms as the other leaker. I can't see the actual hole and it only leaks under pressure of operation but this time the oil was down 2 quarts before being noticed. The leak comes slowly right from under where the 1 inch bolt-head is attached, and I believe it is due to faulty welding of the 1 inch bolt-head to the filter body allowing a small perforation to develop over at least a thousand miles of driving, that starts slowly dripping oil when the engine is running. In both cases there was no oily spot where the car gets parked, and the only way to catch it was to check the oil level for unusual oil loss and then look under the car when the engine is running for slowly dripping oil. I don't know if K&N produced a bad batch of oil filters, or recently outsourced production to a new location, but I had been using them on my Pilot and CR-V (they both take the same model), and I just wrote to K&N about this, but also wanted to give a heads-up on my personal experience with leaking K&N Oil Filters on our CR-V. Two leaking occurrences in my sample size seems to be an endemic issue, so I caution anyone using these to regularly check your oil level and be careful of this. I think I am done with K&N Oil Filters myself!
 

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When you put on another brand of oil filter, please post back if that solved the problem.
Were these leaking K&N filters bought at the same time and place?
Thanks for the heads up as K&N is very highly rated.
Buffalo
 

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If you check the filtering efficiency of a Honda OEM oil filter, you may be surprised at the results.
But, if they are what Honda recommends, they most likely have a reason for their lack of filtering efficiency for the smaller particle sizes. Perhaps they favor flow rate over filtering ability, esp in 3rd world Countries, where oil filters are more expensive and harder to come by.
I now use the Fram Ultra Guard because of good reviews in BITOG, but overall, I have never had an oil filter related problem in the past 50+ yrs and I used a lot of Fram OC of Deaths ones.
I also changed my oil very frequently, probably too frequently. All my engines ran well and clean and long lived. My first was a 55 Chevy V8.
Buffalo4
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I put on another K&N for now as I already had it on hand. That one was the last K&N on my parts shelf though, and it was the last of a batch of two I purchased from a local auto parts store. I had been in the habit of buying a couple of them at a time since I use them on both my CR-V and my Pilot. They both take the same filter. This one seems fine and is not leaking, but then the two leakers seemed fine and didn't leak when they were first installed either. I make it a point to start the engine and carefully look under the car when it's running after doing an oil change to make sure there are no leaks and that the oil change was successfully completed!

As I recall from my S2000 there are different Honda branded filters, and some are considered better quality than others. I couldn't keep straight which were the better Honda branded ones, and thought the K&N brand would actually be an upgrade - plus there was the convenience of that 1 inch bolt-head! I will be moving onto another brand now that I had trouble with K&N TWICE, and am leaning to Wix right now.
 

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Can you take a picture of the K&N end where it leaks and post it?

I tend to use Honda filters, but am not above using a Wix if it's available cheaper than I can get the Honda brand. I know what you mean about the A002 or A001 or whatever the numbers are. That's why I rely on H and A for them when I do get them. Their bulk deal is hard to beat since you don't have to make a trip to the store.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Can you take a picture of the K&N end where it leaks and post it?

Unfortunately you can't see the hole since it's covered up by the bent sheet metal piece that looks like a 1 inch bolt head that's welded on the bottom of the filter body. I think the actual leaking hole is a spot weld that was too hot on the filter body side, and is covered up by the bent sheet metal piece that was welded onto the filter body. The leak was coming from the bottom of the filter though, and was not leaking from the gasket down to the bottom - because I suspected that and cleaned it before restarting and watching...
 

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I'd still like to see the bottom of the filter. I agree with your analysis of the cause of the leak as spot welding thin sheet metal is an art, but there is a lot of science that goes into a production piece. I'd also be interested in what K&N has to say about it, if/when they respond.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
K&N haven't responded yet, tho it's only been half a day since I sent them a detailed description via their web form. I am interested in what they have to say.

However, I just Googled "Leaking K&N Oil Filter" and there were a ton of hits, and many referenced the bolt-head area. They have to know about this!

There are 8 spot welds and the oil was coming out of the safety wire hole. The filter was on for 2500-3000 miles, since the MM said 70% life left.
K N Filter Leaked.jpg
 

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Just curious how much torque you're putting on that bold head? I only ever go hand tight and have never had one leak, maybe that thing is only intended for taking them off?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just curious how much torque you're putting on that bold head? I only ever go hand tight and have never had one leak, maybe that thing is only intended for taking them off?
I clean the gasket surface on the engine with a clean cloth, oil the rubber gasket of the filter, and then slowly tighten the filter by hand until the gasket seats against the engine, and the filter stops wiggling on the threaded shaft. That is the point where the I take note of the filter's position. I note a feature or writing on the filter relative to something fixed on the car and I tighten the filter 1 turn from where the gasket first touched the engine. Sometimes I can get 1 turn by hand depending upon the grip I can get on the filter. For example, it is no problem to get 1 turn by hand on the Pilot because the filter is so exposed and I can easily get a good grip on it. However, both CR-Vs I've owned had the filter tucked up pretty high so that I always needed to get about the last quarter of a turn tightened using a wrench. Years ago I had a couple filters loosen and leak before that weren't tightened 1 turn.

Try Googling "leaking K&N oil filter" and you will be shocked at how many hits come back with exactly the same problem! I just did that today and wished I did it when the first one leaked a year ago...
 

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Thanks for posting the picture!
Let us know if you hear back from K&N.
 

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I'm glad that you clarified how you put it on as that bolt is clearly NOT meant to be used for tightening. Any filter you use is only supposed to be hand tightened until "snug". BTW, save those filters as I'm sure they'll want to analyze them to help them correct the problem. The big box store I use in town has just started carrying K & N's product line so I'll see if any of their customers have had issues. Craig
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I'm glad that you clarified how you put it on as that bolt is clearly NOT meant to be used for tightening. Any filter you use is only supposed to be hand tightened until "snug". BTW, save those filters as I'm sure they'll want to analyze them to help them correct the problem. The big box store I use in town has just started carrying K & N's product line so I'll see if any of their customers have had issues. Craig
When I first started using K&N Oil Filters several years ago they clearly stated that the bolt-head could be used for BOTH installing and removing the filters, but I just looked at their web site and they now call them "wrench off" oil filters. That's a change in their instructions and intent compared to when I started using them several years ago! Since yesterday I have also learned that there are a huge amount of complaints on the web about Leaking K&N Oil Filters (wish I checked that a year ago when the first one leaked). There are no warnings on the box the oil filters come in, nor on the oil filters themselves to not use the bolt-head for tightening, and frankly I'm not convinced that "snug" tightening via the bolt-head actually caused the problem. In both cases that I had leaking K&N Oil Filters they didn't leak a drop for well over a thousand miles and more like 2000-3000 miles. That to me indicates a faulty spot weld that was burned through the filter housing and eventually enlarged with the extended pressure of operation. When I have time I will saw off the top of the latest failed K&N Oil Filter to inspect the inside of the oil filter housing (the inside of the spot welds) and will post the picture of the inside of the filter, which I expect will reveal a burned through spot weld. There are 8 of these spot welds so the load from snugging down the filter the last 1/4 turn to get to 1 full turn of tightening after gasket contact would have been spread over all 8 spot welds. If "snugging" caused the failure, then all 8 welds should be fractured, which I doubt.

Nevertheless, there should be a warning on the box or the filter and there is none! Also, it has been 24 hours since I provided a detailed complaint to K&N with no response, which means they probably aren't going to respond.
 

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It could be the welds are being 'exercised' by the filter changing shape under pressure. This could lead to failure in the form of a tear in the housing.

I'm also curious as to why the paint on the 'nut' is all missing, whereas the paint on the filter itself looks OK.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
kn filter inside.jpg

The above picture of the inside of the latest defective oil filter shows that 3 adjacent spot welds on one side of the filter were burned through at the outside edge of each weld. The 3 defective welds eventually "connected the dots" from the vibrations and pressure of 2000 to 3000 miles of operation. The leaking was from this failure, and this filter did NOT start leaking until between 2000 and 3000 miles of operation. It was leaking substantially by 3000 miles of operation when this was caught.

The thickness of the filter body itself is 0.016 or 16/1000ths or 1/64th of an inch. Some people refer to this as 16 mil which is also known as 28 gauge stock. However, the thickness of the bent sheet metal nut/bolt-head is 0.032 or 32/1000ths or 1/32nd of an inch, also referred to as 32 mil or 22 gauge stock. Both are plain sheet steel. Spot welding two pieces of sheet steel together when one piece is twice as thick as the other piece needs to be done very precisely to avoid burn-thru of the thinner piece of steel. In this case the thinner piece of steel is the more critical piece as it is the filter body itself. I suspect that there was a misalignment of the spot welding die/probe such that one side had more pressure when they contacted the pieces to be welded, and the points on that side carried more of the welding current causing the burn-thru on only that side (3 adjacent "darker" welds representing one side of the circumference of the 8 spot welds).

As to the surface rust, this filter saw 3000 miles of winter operation in New England where de-icing salts are heavily used on the roads. It seems that the edges of the nut/bolt-head piece (circumference of the metal piece and around each safety-wire hole) allowed enough ingress of the salts to cause surface rust to creep under the paint and then the paint flaked off. I can't speak to the surface preparation of the metal during manufacturing, but it doesn't appear there was any primer coat or etching under the paint. I've used a bunch of these filters over the years, and some got rusty and some didn't. Note that this is surface rust on the nut/bolt-head piece only, and there is no rust on the inside or outside of the filter body.

As to the conjecture that snug tightening of the nut/bolt-head the last quarter turn to get to one full turn after gasket contact caused the failure, I would argue that if that were the case then the filter should have started leaking on day one and not taken several months to leak, and that all 8 of the spot welds should have experienced the exact same failure since the force of the snug tightening was applied equally to all 8 spot welds.

I have now pretty exhaustively looked at similar complaints on the Internet of these filters leaking from the nut/bolt-head area, and several people stated that they only hand tightened the filters an never used a wrench during installation. Also, from what I saw the vast majority of the complaints were only over the last 2 years, and I did see some commentary that these filters were originally made in the USA and then more recently moved to a foreign manufacturing plant. The reduction in welding precision could feasibly be correlated to that move to foreign manufacturing plant(s).

I have 2 of these filters on 2 of my cars right now, my CR-V and my Pilot. I am going to more religiously check the oil level on both cars until their next oil changes, at which point I am switching to the WIX filters that I just ordered. Both my CR-V and Pilot use the same exact filter, and after 2 leaking filters I am done with using K&N Oil Filters.

Finally, it has been 4 days since I wrote to K&N about the latest failure and I have yet to have a response from them. My take is that these failures are quite common with these filters when used over a long service life (~10K per Honda MM for us) and they would rather say nothing than start admitting guilt.
 

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^^^^^THANKS!
I agree with you that the move to off shore manufacturing is the most likely cause.

If it were me, I'd take the filters off the cars NOW, top up the oil and enjoy life. There are more important things in life to worry about than oil levels in cars that shouldn't need such close scrutiny between oil changes.

Thanks again for posting the pictures and cutting the can open too.
 

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Well its like Optima batteries now. They used to be good and also made in the US. Now they are hit and miss and some places stopped carring them since they moved manufacturing outside the US.

Thanks for the update.
 
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