Everything You Need To Know About Your Car’s Air Filter

Everything You Need To Know About Your Car’s Air Filter

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Everything You Need To Know About Your Car’s Air Filter

Everything You Need To Know About Your Car’s Air Filter

Most vehicles come with two types of air filters: a cabin air filter and an engine air filter. Both play an important part in keeping your car clean and safe. Maintaining your air filters is essential if you want to keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come. Whether you’re new to the mechanic scene or simply brushing up on your knowledge, check out everything you need to know about your car’s air filter with this complete rundown.

Cabin Air Filter

Let’s start with the cabin air filter. This part acts as part of your car’s heating and air conditioning system. The filter is a pleated part consisting of multifiber cotton or a manufactured material. It usually sits behind the glove box. Your vehicle’s HVAC system draws air from outside and passes it through the filter, which catches dust, dirt, pollen, and other contaminants so that only clean air reaches the interior of your vehicle.

The Importance of the Cabin Air Filter

The cabin air filter is responsible for keeping the interior of your vehicle fresh and clean. If the filter fails, it can cause a lot of problems for you and your car. The first and most obvious issue is that you won’t have clean air inside your vehicle. A dirty or worn-out filter won’t prevent contaminants from entering, which means you can inhale allergens, pollutants, and other particles that can cause breathing problems.

A failing air filter also leads to an inefficient HVAC system. This means less airflow and poor temperature regulation in your vehicle, which can create an uncomfortable drive for you and your passengers. An inefficient HVAC system can also cause blower motors and other HVAC parts to burn out faster than they normally would.

Finally, the cabin air filter helps clear condensation from the vehicle’s windows. Contaminated air or poor airflow from a dirty filter make it harder to clear up the windows, which in turn reduces visibility in poor weather.

How Long a Cabin Air Filter Lasts

Cabin air filters can last a long time and usually only need replacing every 12,000 to 30,000 miles. However, the exact life span of your air filter will depend on factors like what kind of vehicle you have and how good the filter is. Your area’s air quality can also shorten or prolong the life of your cabin air filter.

Signs of a Dirty or Worn Filter

You never know exactly when you’ll need to replace the cabin air filter, so it’s a good idea to learn the warning signs of a failing filter. One of the most common indicators of a dirty or worn-out filter is the smell. If your car smells musty when you turn on the AC or heating, there’s a good chance you need a new filter.

Weak airflow is another sure sign that your cabin air filter is on its way out. Finally, keep an ear out for strange sounds, including whistling in the air intake ducts or excessively loud noises when your HVAC system is on.

How To Fix a Bad Air Filter

What do you do when your air filter no longer functions correctly? You’ll need to replace the filter with a new one. Fortunately, most vehicles make it easy to reach and replace the cabin air filter. Check your owner’s manual to find the location of your filter. If it’s behind the glove box, you’ll be able to remove the compartment and reach the filter easily. Then, simply remove the filter and replace it with a new one.

If your cabin air filter is beneath the dashboard or under the hood of your car, you might have more trouble reaching it. Consult your owner’s manual to see how to reach the air filter and take your vehicle to a mechanic if you need to.

Engine Air Filter

The engine air filter resides in the engine compartment and cleans the air that circulates throughout your engine. Like the cabin air filter, this filter is responsible for keeping bugs, dust, dirt, and other debris out of your vehicle.

The Importance of the Engine Air Filter

Your engine needs a continuous supply of air to run smoothly. If that air contains contaminants and debris, it can lead to harmful buildup on the intake manifold, cylinders, and other components of your engine. A clogged air filter restricts the airflow in your engine and allows contaminants like dirt, smog, and grease to build up and cause engine problems.

If you have a damaged or dirty air filter, your engine will have to work harder to operate. This means a weaker performance and less power for your vehicle. Moreover, the extra work can wear down various parts of your engine and shorten your vehicle’s overall life span.

A poor engine air filter also worsens fuel efficiency. As the engine works harder to compensate for the lack of airflow, it burns more fuel. The extra work can also lead to an overheated engine, which in turn causes damage and leads to costly repairs.

Average Life Span of the Engine Air Filter

It’s a good idea to check your engine air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Once again, the life span of this part changes depending on the type of vehicle you own, what kind of filter you use, and the quality of the roads you frequent.

Signs Your Engine Air Filter Needs Replacing

A failing air filter can cause myriad problems for your engine. If your check engine light comes on or if your vehicle isn’t running as smoothly as it usually does, your engine air filter might be the culprit. Other signs that your engine air filter is nearing the end of its life include:

  • Poor gas mileage
  • Coughing, sputtering, and excessive vibrations in the engine
  • Engine running hot

How To Maintain Your Engine Air Filter

If your engine air filter isn’t that old or if you have a high-performance filter that’s more durable, you might be able to clean the part rather than completely replacing it. To do this, locate the filter in your engine compartment and remove it. Wash it with water and filter cleaning solution. Make sure the filter is completely dry before placing it back in its compartment and replacing the cover.

If your filter is old and starting to wear down, it’s better to replace it so that your car can run at peak performance. Take the vehicle to a mechanic or purchase your own auto air filters online to get the right replacement part.

Learning everything you need to know about your car’s air filter is an important part of maintaining your vehicle and ensuring a safe, smooth drive everywhere you go. With this knowledge—and quality parts from Auto Value—you can take good care of your vehicle and keep your car running well mile after mile.

Everything You Need To Know About Your Car’s Air Filter

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