Driving without an air filter is not recommended, as it can cause a variety of problems for your car's engine. The air filter is responsible for filtering the air you breathe and the air used by your engine, and it is essential for preventing dust, dirt, insects, and other impurities from entering the car's engine. This can lead to internal scratches at best and engine failures at worst. Additionally, driving without an air filter can reduce air circulation, reduce heating and air conditioning performance, or cause a musty smell.
Most air filters are made of a combination of paper and synthetic fibers that trap harmful particles. Electrostatic filters provide 20-60% better filter efficiency than other cabin air filters at all particle diameters (6 — 520 nm). When the cabin filter is defective, it will not filter harmful particles from the air entering your car. Removing the air filter will increase from 1 to 2 horsepower at best, but this is negligible and you will hardly notice it.
What's worse is that dust adhering to the wet air filter can accumulate and form an impenetrable layer for incoming air. These impurities in the air must first be filtered before the air can reach the interior of the combustion chamber. It is important to note that while you shouldn't drive continuously without an air filter, a short trip is generally OK. However, most people advise against driving a vehicle without an air filter due to the potential respiratory problems that can arise from exposure to dust and pollen particles.
Additionally, if you have an aftermarket K&N air intake system with a permanent conical air filter, it should be cleaned every 50,000 miles.