There are some tasks necessary for your car that you can easily accomplish. Going to the service center for some light duties like changing your air filter is unnecessary, as even an inexperienced person can do it in less than 5 minutes. In fact, once you have done it yourself, you will wonder why you need to pay top dollar for someone else to do so.
The only thing you need to do is to buy the new air filter yourself. Unlike other tasks, like an oil change, the job is pretty straightforward once you have the only necessary item to finish it.
What Is The Air Filter For?
The air filter is very important for your engine to run properly. Air will eventually mix with fuel, and when you start the car, the spark plug will ignite the mixture. The end result is internal combustion.
Your car’s air filter serves to clean the air going into the engine as much as possible. This is necessary for your car engine to run and function efficiently. Unfortunately, the air from outside of the car is full of other junk that will not get burned easily. Your engine can, in fact, suck in things like dust, sand, pollen, dirt, and even bird feathers, but you would not want them as part of your car’s internal combustion, nor anywhere near your engine at all. This is the reason why air filters are necessary for your engine to run smoothly.
The air filter in your engine is connected to the intake manifold. While older car models with carburetors have air filters shaped like a donut, newer cars have rectangular ones. They are also manufactured of material similar to paper and is porous. They are also folded similar to an accordion, although for more surface area. This filter will capture dirt and other big particulates from the air and prevent it from getting inside your engine. On the other hand, clean air will be able to flow through. This way, the engine’s internal components are not compromised by any particles from the outside air.
Why Is Changing Your Air Filter Important?
Eventually, your filter becomes full of the dirt and the particulates it captures, which is why it needs to be replaced regularly. When it is too dirty, even the clean air will not be able to pass through which could result to engine damage. Beyond that, there are many other advantages to a new air filter.
- Better Fuel Efficiency
Your car engine needs clean air in order to perform efficiently. When the filter is very dirty and clogged, there is not enough of the clean air getting inside the engine. Without enough air, the engine will require more fuel in order to gain the same combustion and run. So by investing a few dollars in a new filter, you will be saving a lot more on gas.
- Longer Engine Life
Your engine is actually quite sensitive and may get damaged even with just small gains of sand. When such dirt and other particles get inside the engine, the damage will accumulate over time, especially to the engine’s internal parts such as the pistons, piston rings, cylinders and valves. Saving a few dollars will eventually lead you to spend thousands of dollars on a whole new engine.
- Lesser Emissions
When there is reduced airflow to the car engine, the emission control systems are affected, making your car spew more pollutants into the atmosphere. In the end, you will be adding to the particulates in the air that you would not want to get into your own engine.
When Should You Have Your Air Filter Changed?
Most car manufacturers recommend that air filters be changed every year or after 12,000 miles, whichever might come first.
Of course, if you are using your car more often or for longer trips, you can expect the air filter to accumulate dirt and particulates more quickly. Moreover, if you live in a busy city or a dusty area, then doing it more often makes more sense. Another good suggestion is to have the air filter changed every time you go for an oil change. Once you are informed, then you can go and change it yourself. Before doing so, make sure you check the manual of your car to know the specifications of the air filter required for your car.
You should also watch out for signs that your air filter should be replaced.
- Your Gas Mileage Has Decreased
One of the most common signs of the need to change your air filter is the decrease in gas mileage. Because the engine requires constant air flow to function efficiently, your car using much more gas is a sign that the engine is taking in less clean air and is working harder than normal. When you start seeing a change in your car’s gas mileage, it is a sign that the air filter has been requiring a change for a while. This sign does not come as quickly, so when you notice a need to fill up the gas tank in a shorter amount of time, then you need to replace the filter as quickly as possible.
- Problems With Ignition
Dirty air filters affect the engine’s emission control system. Afterward, the spark plugs are blocked and the sparking is also disturbed. This manifests in problems with ignition and when you are trying to start your car, it will tend to roll over sluggishly. In this case, you should have the air filter checked.
- Follow The Timeline
If you read your car manual, the manufacturer’s recommendation on when to change the air filter is stated there. Even if it is not yet displaying any signs that it should be changed, you should just have it done. It is much better because there will be no negative impact on your car and engine’s performance. In fact, considering the very affordable price of a new air filter and the ease in changing it, there is no reason for you to just do it yourself even before noticing signs.
- Do A Visual Check
When you purchase a new air filter, you will notice that they are either white or off-white in color. This means, if you do a visual check, a dirty filter is anything but white. Moreover, when you see a lot of debris or particles, then it means your engine is no longer receiving adequate clean air. At times, it might not be obvious, because the particulates might be tiny. Still, if it looks dirty and full, you might want to just replace it. You need to refer to your manual to find out where the air filter is located. Every car model has its filter in a different place, so do not assume that it is exactly where your older car’s is.
In fact, your air filter might not anymore be allowing enough clean air through but still, you will not notice it. Most of the signs will display later on when your engine is already struggling. This means, either follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations or check on it yourself to ensure that your car is always running as efficiently as possible.
The Simple Steps for Changing Your Air Filter
The truth is, it only takes five steps to changing the air filter of your car and once you are used to it, you will only need a minute.
- Buy A New Filter
Air filters are quite cheap, costing about $10 or a little bit more. You can buy them at an auto parts store or even at a big supermarket. You just need to find out which to get for your car, either by reading your car manual or referring to the store’s list of air filters. They will most likely list which kind is appropriate based on the car’s model and year. You can also choose to buy more than 1 and have them on stock at home for the next air filter change.
- Open The Hood And Find The Air Filter Box
The air filter box or simply air box is not that difficult to find. It is normally a black plastic box either on top of or on the side of the engine. It should also have a huge hose sticking out on the side.
- Remove The Dirty Air Filter
Opening the air filter box is easy, as you only need to remove the metal clips holding the cover down. You need to then just take the old filter.
- Check The Filter
You can do a visual inspection on the status of the old air filter. A sign that it needs to be replaced is the color. If it is gray, then it is time to replace it. If you also look inside the folds and see a lot of dirt on it, it means it is no longer letting a lot of clean air inside.
- Put The New Filter
Throw the old one away and put in the new one, making sure that it is snug in the box. Close the air filter box and make sure to snap on the clips.
Knowing how to check and replace your air filter will ensure that your car engine is always receiving adequate clean air and therefore, running smoothly. Not only do you save money, but you will no longer have to allocate time driving to the shop and waiting in line. For a few dollars spent on a new filter, you can change it as often as you like in as little as one minute.