How Often Should I Replace My Air Filter?

How often should I replace my air filter?

The air filter in your car is a crucial component in keeping the air that enters your car clean. Car manufacturers will give advice on how often to replace the air filter in your service book. Sometimes the recommended interval can be as low as 20,000 miles. Sometimes the interval can be as much as 50,000 miles. Car manufacturers base these intervals on tests and previous experience. Based on that they can give a pretty accurate estimation on how often the air filter should be replaced.

Why Does An Air Filter Get Dirty?

The air filter is a component that cleans up air that is being directed to the engine. It ensures the air intake system does not get clogged up with dirt. How it works is that the air from outside passes the filter which in turn filters all debris out of the air. In this process the air filter element can become extremely dirty and would need replacing regularly. Luckily the air filter is made of a felt-like paper. It is not a costly part to replace in comparison to other parts of the air intake system.

The speed at which an air filter will clog up will depend on a couple of things. Driving conditions will have a big impact. If you drive in a city, for example, the dirty air will make your filter dirty much quicker than when you would drive in the countryside with clean air. Things are different of course if you do a lot of off-road driving. The dust and debris will clog the filter up much quicker than normal. How you drive the car has an impact too. Lots of commuting, will guarantee you will need to replace the filter more often.

Why You Should Replace Your Air Filter

Interval recommendations from the manufacturer should be adhered to of course. Sometimes, though, you may find your air filter needs replacing earlier than that. A classic symptom that shows your car could need a new air filter is that your car may accelerate less quickly. If the filter is clogged up, it will let less air through to the engine. It will mean that the engine won’t be able to combust the fuel in the most effective way. The engine will be less powerful as a result.

A clogged up filter will lead to increased fuel consumption and higher emissions. If you’re unlucky the higher emissions from your car might even mean that your car will fail its MOT. It’s important to ensure the filter stays in good shape therefore. Certainly if you remember how much trouble a dirty air filter can cause.

How Can I Check If My Air Filter Is Dirty?

Normally the air filter is situated in an easily accessible place underneath your bonnet. On modern cars it’s usually hidden inside a black plastic box in front of, or next to the engine. What you will find is that on modern cars the filter is a rectangular part. On older cars the air filter will often be ring-shaped. Once you reach the filter, you will quickly be able to see if it is dirty. If it is dirty it will have become grey or black in most areas.

If you’re not sure if you should be replacing your air filter we would advise to get a mechanic to check it. For example during a service. ClickMechanic’s major service normally includes an air filter change, for example. Provided your car is fitted with one of course.

About Kurt Schleier

Resident classic car enthusiast and blogger at Clickmechanic.

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