Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Role of Air Cleaners in Engine Functioning - Vol.142

Air cleaners or filters are essential for the proper functioning of your car's engine. Because air filters are part of a car's intake system, they block contaminants to prevent them from reaching your engine. Well-used air filters can actually allow dirt particles or bugs to get into your engine which can cause serious damage to your car. In extreme cases, engine failure is a possibility. To get the most out of your air filters, you need to have basic knowledge about them.

Purpose of Air Filters
To fully understand the importance of air filters, you need to know how air filters work. Keep in mind that all air that flows to the car engine does so through the air filter. This means that a dirty filter can negatively impact performance of your car's engine. Dirty air filters also result in car emissions with high levels of pollutants. Many communities now monitor car emissions which makes air filters all the more important. If you fail the emission test, you may not be able to renew your license plates until your car is repaired.

Types of Air Filters
There are several different types of air filters you can purchase. Most drivers prefer air filters than match the one that is currently in their vehicle. These are known as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) products and include replacement filters. You can purchase these at your local automotive parts store or dealership. Another type of air filter than is available is performance filters. Named accordingly because they improve engine performance, these filters may be slightly more expensive than OEM filters. These tend to be oil-soaked filters as opposed to the traditional dry filters found in most vehicles.

When to Change Air Filters
A good car maintenance routine includes changing air filters every time you change oil. This means that air filters will need to be changed every 3,000-5,000 miles. Read your car owner's manual to get an exact recommendation. Depending on high hard or where you drive your vehicle, you may need to change air filters more often. For example, vehicles involved in off-road activities are more likely to accumulate dirt and debris that can quickly clog air filters.

How to Change Air Filters
It does not require much skill to change an air filter. You simply find the filter which is usually located under a black cover. Remove the cover and pull out the filter. Insert the new air filter and secure the cover again. The most important step is to purchase the right air filter. You will need to know the year, make, and model of your vehicle before you go to the automotive parts store. Additionally, you need to insert the filter in the right direction or it will be rendered useless.

Reusing Air Filters
Certain air filters can be cleaned and reused. Before going this route, make sure the filter is recyclable. As long as the filter is not torn, you may be able to clean it. To do this, you will need to have compressed air on hand to blow out any dust that has accumulated in the filter. If you do not have a compressed air unit, a vacuum should work as well. Be sure to clean both sides of the filter. You really should only recycle an air filter once. So have a new one ready to install at the next scheduled change.

Practically everything in a car's engine is related to other components. This is true for air filters as well. A dirty air filter can actually damage spark plugs or interfere with your transmission. You may experience slower or sluggish acceleration because of a dirty air filter.