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How Often You Should Replace Your Air Filter and Why

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, one of the elements that is often overlooked is the engine air filter. An air filter plays a key role in vehicle performance and longevity by processing the air that is brought in from outside to ensure the motor’s intake system receives air that is free from contaminants, dirt, dust, and debris.

An engine air filter is a consumable part. Over time, the air filter becomes clogged and dirty – a vast difference from a crisp, new filter! A dirty filter can’t decontaminate air like it should, which can lead to a number of issues related to performance, fuel efficiency and dependability.

As a general guideline, it’s advisable to check and potentially replace the air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or at least annually. You may need to replace the air filter more frequently if you frequently drive on dirt roads or in dusty conditions.

Replacing your engine air filter is a relatively quick, easy, and affordable maintenance task that is essential for keeping your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently.

Function of an Engine Air Filter

The primary function of an engine air filter is to filter the air that enters a vehicle’s engine. The filter ensures that the air drawn into the engine is clean and free from contaminants. Clean air contributes directly to the engine’s efficiency, performance, and longevity.

The engine air filter is typically located in the air intake system, usually housed in a plastic or metal casing. It sits between the outside environment and the engine. The air filter is usually made of a paper or fabric-like material that is folded accordion-style to create a large surface area. As air flows through the filter, the folded design traps dust, dirt, pollen, bugs, and other debris that could damage the engine. The fine mesh of the filter prevents these contaminants from reaching the engine.

Once the air is filtered, it passes through the clean side of the filter and enters the engine’s intake manifold where it is combined with fuel. The fuel/air mixture is sent from here to the engine’s cylinders, which convert the mixture into energy that powers the vehicle.

Importance of a Clean and Functional Air Filter

Clean air is essential for efficient engine combustion. When the air is free from contaminants, the fuel can burn more completely, releasing energy in a controlled manner. This contributes to improved fuel efficiency, power output, and overall engine performance.

An engine receiving clean air can operate at its designed capacity, delivering the horsepower and torque specified by the manufacturer. Proper combustion, facilitated by clean air, leads to lower emissions. A well-regulated air-fuel mixture results in a cleaner burn, reducing the production of harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.

Clean air also helps prevent abrasive particles from entering the engine, which can cause wear on internal components. Abrasive particles can damage cylinder walls, piston rings, and other moving parts, leading to increased friction and reduced engine lifespan.

A clean engine air filter is crucial for optimal engine performance, fuel efficiency, and the prevention of premature wear on engine components.

Indications of a Dirty Air Filter

A dirty, clogged air filter can contribute to a number of vehicle problems. Here are some signs that it may be time to replace your air filter.

Difficulty starting the engine or misfiring:  Inconsistent idling can be caused by an air/fuel mixture that is too “rich”, meaning that there is too much fuel and not enough air because airflow is restricted by the clogged filter.

Decreased performance:  A dirty air filter can’t contribute clean air to the combustion process. Inefficient combustion can result in a loss of power, acceleration, and torque.

Gas smell in exhaust:  Without enough air in the combustion process, unburned fuel will enter the exhaust system, leaving soot in the tailpipe and emitting the smell of gas when the vehicle is started.

Reduced fuel efficiency:  A dirty air filter will reduce the amount of clean air taken in, causing your vehicle to add more fuel into the combustion process.

While there can be other things that contribute to vehicle problems such as these, it’s worth checking the engine air filter, especially if you can’t remember the last time it was replaced.

In most vehicles, checking the air filter is relatively straightforward, and new air filters are one of the most affordable and easily obtainable engine components. The manufacturer’s manual will explain how to locate and extract the air filter in your vehicle, as well as what type of air filter should be used.

Costa Oil Air Filter Service

If you’re not comfortable with replacing your air filter – or simply don’t have time – visit your local Costa Oil! We carry many types of air filters for a variety of vehicles, and we can special order as needed. Whether it’s time for an oil change, or you just want to check your vehicle’s air filter, our friendly professionals are eager to assist you.

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