We all know that the engine is an essential part of your vehicle. Most of us are good at getting our oil checked and replacing our tires when they lose traction. One thing that is often neglected is your car’s engine air filter. A clean air filter is actually very important to your car’s functionality and it is inexpensive to maintain.
What Does An Air Filter Do?
An air filter has two main functions. It keeps dirt, dust, leaves, debris, etc. from entering the engine, keeping the air that enters as clean as possible to prevent corrosion and potential damage. The engine requires a balance of oxygen and fuel for its combustion process. A clean air filter will provide the right amount of oxygen to allow the engine to operate optimally.
4 Reasons for a Clean Engine Air Filter
1. Better Gas Mileage
When your air filter is clean, the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to burn fuel because it has plenty of clean air. This means fewer trips to the gas station, saving you money and time.
2. Longer Engine Life
While getting your air filter replaced is fairly inexpensive, engine failure is so costly that it may mean the end of your car’s life. If you have a clean air filter, which keeps out destructive debris, your engine will function better and longer.
3. Reduced Emissions
If there is not a balanced mixture of air and fuel, your engine cannot breathe and has to work a lot harder, burning more fuel. This can also cause carbon buildup on your spark plugs and deposits on your engine.
4. More Engine Power
When your car’s engine does not have to fight for air it has a lot more power to accelerate when needed. A clean air filter allows air to move through smoothly, allowing the engine work easier and thereby, more efficiently.
How and When to Check Your Air Filter
Most vehicles will need an air filter replacement every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. However, if you live in a dry climate or drive on dirt roads often, you may need to replace it more frequently. You can check your owner’s manual for the appropriate mileage to replace it. If you are unsure at all you can have your mechanic check your air filter when you have your oil checked. Keep in mind, you will not need to change your air filter as frequently as you change your oil. The benefit of having a mechanic check your air filter is, he can offer a more specific recommendation based on your driving habits, climate in which you drive and inspection of the filter.
Another option is to check your air filter yourself. You can do your own visual inspection to determine its condition. Your owner’s manual will direct you to the location of your air filter. Remove the cover, which is usually simple because it is attached by snaps or clips, then take out the air filter and look at it, holding it up to a light. If you can see the light through it or it is white and clean it doesn’t need replacing. If it only has a small amount of dirt you can clean it by tapping it to get rid of the loose dirt and continue to use it. If your air filter has a thick layer of dirt you will need to replace it.
Some vehicles will have an engine air filter service indicator. You can have your mechanic check this when you have your oil checked. For most vehicles, an air filter is an inexpensive repair. A replacement air filter costs approximately 15 to 25 dollars and you can change it yourself to save some money or, even if you have a mechanic do it, the cost of changing it is relatively low.
The Risks of Not Replacing Your Engine Air Filter
If you neglect your air filter, not only will you lose out on the benefits of a clean air filter, but you will have problems. Your gas mileage will lessen, costing you money. Your engine will be sluggish. You may have engine starting issues, and you will have less power when driving. And in serious situations of neglect, your engine can stall completely. Instead of spending exorbitant amounts of money on your vehicle, if you notice that your car is sluggish, or your engine is misfiring, you should take it to a mechanic to have him inspect the air filter and possibly have it replaced. A second option is, you can take the simple step of maintaining a clean air filter by checking it as your owner’s manual or mechanic recommends and replacing it when needed.
No matter how much knowledge you have of vehicles, you should not hesitate to talk to a trusted mechanic if you have any questions or concerns about your car.
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