It might be an important part of regular car maintenance, but for many people, changing your car’s dirty air filter tends to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, a dirty car air filter can create additional problems for your vehicle, including poor gas mileage and even engine wear and tear.
Learn how staying on top of this relatively inexpensive but crucial part of your vehicle can improve your car’s longevity.
How does a dirty air filter affect your car?
Every once in a while, a customer seeking auto repair in Sugar Land will ask us something like, “Exactly how important is a clean air filter?” or “What does an air filter do in a car?”
Here’s what we tell them:
The filter’s primary job is to stop debris (like dirt and bugs) from reaching your car’s engine. Your air filter also cleans up the air that mixes with your car’s fuel and circulates in your engine.
When you don’t replace your dirty car air filter with a clean one, it won’t be able to successfully filter out contaminants. In other words, if you don’t replace your filter:
- The aforementioned contaminants subject your engine to wear and tear.
- The likelihood of outside debris getting sucked into your car’s combustion chamber — which can lead to engine failure — increases significantly.
The air circulating in your engine is less clean, making the fuel in your engine “richer.” “Rich” fuel often leads to poor fuel economy and can lead to engine strain and breakdown.
What are the symptoms of a bad air filter?
A dirty car air filter can cause several alarming “symptoms” or issues within your car. You can tell that you have a dirty car air filter vs. a clean one if:
- Your car no longer performs as well as it used to. (Typically, the first thing people notice is that their car doesn’t accelerate as quickly.)
- You notice a decline in fuel economy.
When should you change your air filter?
Now that you know why you should change your dirty car air filter, you’re probably wondering when to change your dirty car air filter. The standard advice given regarding timing of car air filter replacement is to replace your filter between every 15,000 and 30,000 miles.
Of course, the difference between 15,000 and 30,000 is pretty steep. For that reason, it’s wise to check your car’s manual to see what your particular manufacturer recommends. However, if you often drive in dusty or dirty areas, you will likely need to replace your filter more than the average car owner.
If you’re not sure whether or not to replace your filter, ask your local mechanic. They should be more than happy to answer questions about your air filter, as well as inquiries regarding your air conditioner’s squeaking noise, the Texas inspection sticker grace period, and the frequently asked question, “Can low oil cause overheating?”
Can you clean a car air filter on your own? Get rid of this
While it’s not as time-efficient as having your mechanic replace your air filter, you can indeed clean a dirty car air filter on your own. There are two common methods you can try.
The first method for cleaning your dirty car air filter is by using a vacuum. However, a vacuum probably won’t completely clean the filter.
The second method for cleaning your car air filter is with a cleaning solution. While more efficient with regards to cleaning, using a solution increases the risk of placing a wet filter back into your car, which can harm the engine. Make sure the filter is dry before re-insertion.
Where should I get my air filter changed?
Not sure if you should replace your dirty car air filter? Or maybe you have the air filter on your list of things to check on your car before a road trip, but you just don’t have the time or the energy to take care of it yourself.
Either way, we can help.
With over 250 years of combined experience and over 250,000 cars serviced since 1991, you can depend on the staff at Colony One Auto Center in Sugar Land, Texas.