Engine Maintenance

How often to replace air filter in your car? And 5 signs you need to

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Most maintenance schedules for the air filter differ from 15.000 miles to 45.000 miles. Depending on the make and the severity of the driving environment. But as it is a cheap part and a very easy task to DIY, I’d change it every 2 years or every 15.000 miles, whichever occurs first.

Being proactive with your engine maintenance will only prevent issues from appearing and help your car run as good as possible. If you really want to be as safe as possible, every 6 months or so, take your air filter out, and give it a couple of serious taps to make sure it’s not full of debris. It takes 5 minutes, and you have some piece of mind knowing this simple car part is working properly.

A quick reminder: the engine air filter in your car has the role in supplying fresh air to the engine, so it can burn fuel and… work well. Your engine also requires that air be clean, without any dirt or debris. This is why having a clean air filter is important: it keeps the internal components of your engine clean and supplies enough air to the engine. (aside from messing things inside, stuck debris and stuff in your air filter also reduces its flow)

Top 5 signs you should check and even replace your car’s air filter

Being aware of how a car with a bad air filter works will help you determine if you need to check your air filter. And doing it yourself might save serious cash down the line.

1. Bad fuel Efficiency

Your car’s engine needs a balance of air and fuel to be mixed together to run as the manufacturer intended. A bad air filter, will either block air from entering the internal combustion chamber or worse, it will send dirty air into the combustion chamber.

This will interfere with the combustion process and your engine will use more fuel to compensate. That means a higher gas bill for something as simple as an air filter.

2. Reduced engine performance

Remember that balance of air and fuel we’ve talked about? Well I have bad news: if your air filter cannot supply enough air to your car’s engine, performance is going to take a hit too! Usually, throttle response and acceleration will be affected first, but engine power might suffer too.

Does that mean that sport air filters that claim increased airflow really increase power? Yes. Sport air filters are not a scam – increased airflow can improve performance. It’s just that it will not turn your car into a rocket and its filtering efficiency might be lower. Oh, and inferior quality ones might be shit. Go with a reputable brand if you’re into that sort of thing. Most people will be fine with an OEM replacement or similar and with more $$ in their pockets.

3. Bad spark plugs

If you’re running with a dirty air filter, you have a chance to cause the spark plugs to get dirty and even clogged. Needless to say, their performance will be affected.

And as the spark plugs play a very important role – to ignite the air and fuel mixture inside your engine’s internal combustion chamber, this can lead to premature wear of the spark plugs. So that’s an extra cost if you’ve been neglecting the air filter, a cheap part.

4. Weird and unusual engine noises

A dirty and even partially clogger air filter will make your engine output coughing like sounds that you would not usually hear. Most of the times these sounds occur when you are running idle. It just means that your engine is not getting enough good air inside of it.

5. Rough idle and sometimes fluctuating idle

After you turn on your engine and just leave it idle, the number of revolutions (RPM) it makes should be in the 900 to 1100 range. These numbers are considered normal. If your car idles a lot higher or a lot lower and even randomly fluctuates without you doing anything… you should check the air filter. Maybe you are lucky, and you can fix this problem on the cheap just by replacing the air filter.

Final thoughts on the car air filter

Periodically checking and replacing or cleaning the air filter is a cheap and easy thing to do. And as we can see, if neglected, the air filter can cause many other problems.

Please note that some symptoms described in this article are similar to those of a bad PCV valve. So if your airfilter is ok but you still have some of the symptoms, check that.

So keep your car in top shape and check that air filter once in a while! Your engine will thank you!

Here are some other easy DIY maintenance ideas if you are handy!

Car enthusiast. I am dedicated to maintaining my cars as best as I can. I love things that work, and I love keeping them in a good state.

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