Importance of air filter maintenance
A clean engine runs more efficiently than a dirty engine and your car’s air filter is the engine’s first line of defense. An air filter allows your vehicle’s engine to get clean air, a key component in the combustion process. The air filter prevents airborne contaminants such as dirt, dust and leaves from getting pulled into your car’s engine and potentially damaging it.
How often should I have my air filter replaced?
Vehicle manufacturers vary on their recommendations for how often air filters should be replaced. Many recommend changing it every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. Checking your owner’s manual will give you the specific mileage for your vehicle. You can also consult your local mechanic for a recommendation based on your driving habits.
Driving conditions and climate can affect the lifespan of an air filter. If you often drive on dirt roads, do a lot of stop and start driving or live in a dusty and dry climate, you might need to change your air filter more often. To keep track of when to change the air filter, many people rely on a visual inspection to help determine when to replace it.
How do I perform a visual inspection of my air filter?
Checking your air filter is something that even a novice can do. Refer to your owner’s manual for the location of the air filter. It is typically housed in a cover that is easily opened by removing the snaps or clips. Once you have the cover off, lift the air filter out and hold it up to the light.
If the car air filter appears clean and white or just slightly dirty, then it doesn’t need to be changed. If you observe a thin layer of dirt, you can clean it and keep using it. You can clean your filter by first tapping it to release loose dirt. If your engine air filter is caked with dirt, it is time for a change!
What if I delay changing my air filter?
Putting off your air filter change can lead to problems with your engine. You might notice a decrease in gas mileage resulting in more trips to the gas station. As a result, if your engine doesn’t get the required amount of clean air, it won’t perform properly. Reducing air flow can lead to fouled spark plugs which can create engine misses, rough idling and starting problems. Long story short, do not delay replacing your air filter.
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