The Engine Air Filter
Your car’s engine needs air to operate. Without it, gasoline and diesel cannot burn and provide power. But, not just any air will do.
Before the air is sucked into the engine’s combustion chambers, it must be cleaned, which is where the filter comes in. Having an air filter prevents dirt and debris from jamming up metal parts and otherwise fouling up your engine, which would almost certainly lead to poor performance and a shorter life for your vehicle.
Furthermore, engines typically require a precise ratio of air to fuel. Without enough air, the fuel will run too “rich,” which also puts added strain on the engine.
The good new is, air filters can provide the perfect amount of air into an engine, all the while capturing the grit that would do your engine harm. However, even a top-of-the-line filter can only take so much abuse from the dirty outside world. So, how do you know when your vehicle’s air filter has had enough?
As is often the case with car parts, it all depends on how hard the vehicle is driven and in what kind of conditions. If you usually drive in area where there is a lot of dust, if you sit in stop-and-go-traffic every day near construction, or if you regularly take your vehicle off-road, you will probably need to change your air filter more frequently. On the other hand, if your car is tucked away in your garage until you take it out for an easy Sunday drive, you can probably get away with replacing your air filter less often.
Some mechanics will recommend changing your air filter every 3,000 miles along with an oil change. Others would say that is a bit excessive, and suggest simply using your judgment to visually spot-check your air filter and replace it when it looks dirty.
Is it always a good idea to check your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on type and frequency of filter replacement.
But wait! This is not the only air filter you will want to replace from time to time.
The Cabin Air Filter
Chances are you’d like to have the air that flows into the interior of your car free of dirt as well. The cabin air filter takes care of this. It catches dust and other airborne contaminants before you breathe them in, which is a must for people with allergies or respiratory conditions.
There will usually be signs that you need to have your cabin air filter replaced. If you notice there is simply less air flowing through your heating and air conditioning vents, or you hear noises when you crank up the fan it’s time to have the filter checked. Also, if your HVAC system gives off persistent bad odors it may be time for a filter replacement. Even in the absence of these warning signs, it’s important to check the filter annually.
When it comes to replacing your cabin air filter, the same considerations about how the vehicle is driven apply. Some manufacturers will recommend changing it every 12,000 or 15,000 miles while others say you can go longer. Again, refer to a make-and-model-specific maintenance schedule, and be proactive if you drive in harsh conditions.
If your vehicle is due for an air filter replacement, or you simply can’t remember the last time you had either of them looked at, drop by Grease Monkey for a quick inspection. No obligations, no appointment necessary!