The efficiency of your vehicle’s engine is significantly dependent on the proper functioning of your air filter. In order for your engine to work as best as it can, it needs air as well as gasoline. The air filter sucks in the air to mix with the gasoline within the engine. The filter is what keeps dirt and debris from reaching your engine and ultimately hurting your vehicle. A little dirt is no big deal, but if the filter looks clogged then it is definitely time to change your it out or it will disrupt the air to fuel ratio and corrupt the effectiveness of your engine. As drivers, we are hyper-focused on fuel economy and don’t put a lot of thought into the air that is necessary for our engines to run smoothly. It is important to know when to change your air filter so consider these facts to ensure your engines runs as smoothly as possible:
- Change by mileage - Many vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the air filter every 15,000-30,000 miles. The wide span of mileage in this recommendation is because of the quality of miles that are driven. If you drive mostly city or highway miles, you may go closer to the 30,000 miles before needing to change the filter. If, however, you live on a dirt road and drive it daily, you might need to change it around the 15,000-mile mark.
- Change by time - If you don’t drive a lot, you should still replace your filter every 3 years. With age, the fibers of the filter become brittle, break down, and won’t filter the air as efficiently as needed.
- Change by inspection - You can easily perform a visual inspection of your air filter and replace it yourself if needed. Refer to your owner’s manual to locate the filter under your hood. It is usually housed in a cover that is easily opened by removing snaps or clips. Once you have the cover off, lift the air filter out and hold it up to the light. If the filter appears clean or just slightly dirty, then it should be fine. If you notice a thin layer of dirt, you can clean it by tapping it to release the loose dirt and just continue to use it. If your air filter is caked with dirt, it is time for a change! Just swap it out with the recommended filter listed in your owner’s manual.
Timely replacement of the engine air filter is a maintenance item that can often be overlooked, but be diligent and keep your car’s engine running smoothly by periodically visually checking the engine’s air filter to make sure it's clean. Stay safe out there on the roads!