One essential component in your car is the air filter. A dirty air filter can cause numerous problems including ignition problems or a decrease in gas mileage. Every manufacturer provides some guidance in the form of recommendations on when you should change your air filter. But it seems like every time you take your car to get the oil changed, they’re asking you if you want to change it. We are here to help answer the question of how often should you change your air filter?
Common manufacturers recommendations are that you should change your air filter or replace the filter somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. Now keep in mind that this greatly depends on driving conditions such as the type of road you drive on. A great example of this is if you drive a lot on unpaved roads. All that extra dirt, dust, and debris will clog up your air filter a lot quicker then if you drive on city streets. Another common recommendation is that if you don’t drive very often, you should replace your air filter at least once every three years. The reason you should replace the filter is that as the air filter gets older, it becomes brittle. Think about this in terms of a rubber band. You may keep a rubber band in your drawer for a few years, and when you take it out it looks perfectly fine, but as soon as you stretch it, you find that it’s brutal and it snaps. The same happens with a lot of components in your car.
One telltale sign that it’s time to replace your air filter is if you suddenly experience a reduction in gas mileage. This tends to be the most common issue. As we know, combustion engines require a healthy flow of air., and not just any air, clean air. So if your filter is wholly clogged or very dirty, you won’t get adequate airflow to the engine. This means that the engine has to work extra hard to produce the same results an intern it ends up burning more gas. What you can do to watch for this problem is making a note of the last time you replaced your air filter, then try your best to keep track of how often you fill your car with gas. If you notice yourself going to the gas station more often, checking air filter is a quick and easy way to see if that’s the issue with your car.
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If you run your car with a dirty or clogged air filter for too long, it can begin to cause issues in other areas of your vehicle. Just as an untreated wound can become infected and spread. A great example of a dirty air filter causing issues with other parts of your car is if you experience problems with your ignition. Your cars emission control system can be directly affected by the air not getting through the filter to reach the engine. What typically happens next is issues with the spark plugs becoming gunked up and then not sparking adequately. Your car may not even start all because of this issue.
Thankfully air filter manufacturers chose to use a white material for the filter. This makes it very easy for you to check your air filter visually. Just consult your vehicle owners manual for the location of the engine air filter and maybe even the cabin air filter, then track them down, pull them out, and have a quick look. If you can clearly see dirt or debris, it’s probably a good idea to replace the filter. However, try to keep in mind that the filters are designed to catch very tiny particles that the human eye might not see clearly. In this case, you will just have to watch for the other signs or err on the side of caution and replace it anyway. Changing your cars air filter is a pretty simple task that you may be able to do it home. If you have concerns just take it to your trusted mechanic and have them swap a new one in.
Knowing when it’s time to change your air filter is a great skill to have. There is a balance between getting value out of your old air filter at the cost of decreasing the value of your vehicle overall. If you’re anything like us, you hate to hear the mechanic ask if you want the air filter changed, but you know that keeping it fresh and clean will help prolong the life of your vehicle.
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