We make sure to get an oil change when required to keep our engines running smooth and clean. The gasoline or diesel fuels we use burn cleaner than ever before to make our engines run efficiently. However, it takes more than that to keep a combustion engine operating properly, it also takes clean air. This is what makes a clean air filter such an important part of the process.
If breathing in clean air matters to our bodies, and it does, then clean air is just as important to a vehicle’s engine.
How does a clean air filter make such a big impact on an engine?
Maintaining a Clean Air Filter
Just like the body of a finely tuned athlete is more efficient than the body of someone who has been a smoker for 20 years, the same holds true for an engine. Your vehicle’s air filter ensures that clean air makes its way through the combustion process.
Preventing airborne particles like dirt, dust, sand, and dry leaves from flowing through an engine is the function of an air filter. As it does its job, over time it becomes more difficult to pass clean air through the filter and into the engine, which is why regular cleaning or filter replacement is needed. Waiting too long could cause damage to the engine itself.
When Should I Replace My Air Filter?
While vehicle manufacturers have their own specifications for how often to replace an air filter, in general, it should be done about every 20,000 to 25,000 miles, but it could be a little more or a little less often. That equates to about 30,000 to 40,000 kilometers.
To be certain of your vehicle’s requirements, check your owner’s manual or you can consult with your vehicle dealer or a trusted mechanic, who can gauge your driving habits and the vehicle’s engine.
It is also important to consider the driving conditions and the climate, as both of these can affect an air filter’s viability. Driving on dirt or gravel roads, heavy traffic, and dusty areas would require more frequent air filter changes than regular highway driving through damp regions.
In either case, check your air filter often and if you are not sure whether it needs a change or not, visit your local automotive specialist.
Inspecting My Air Filter
You do not need to be an automotive expert to check your air filter. Simply use your owner’s manual as a guide to locate the filter and extract it for a visual inspection with a light source.
A white air filter or one that seems relatively clean can last until your next check. Even a thin layer of dirt can be removed to keep the filter operating effectively. However, if you cannot see through the filter very well, it is time to make the change.
If it is unclear whether you need a new one or not, rest assured that changing the air filter is inexpensive and can save your engine from much more costly repairs down the road.