With your commitment to keep your car well maintained, don't neglect a small but important service. Changing old air filters will help your vehicle last longer and give you a more comfortable ride.
The non-profit Car Care Council wants to remind everyone that engine and cabin air filters should be inspected and replaced regularly. This service can easily be performed by a mechanic. However, with just a few basic tools, car owners can also change their air filters.
What Air Filters Do for Your Vehicle
Rich White, executive director at Car Care Council, has this to say about the importance of car air filters:
"Air filters are your vehicle's first line of defense against contaminants that reduce cabin air quality and negatively impact engine performance."
Trapping dirt particles may not seem very important, but these particles can do a lot of damage to your car. Engine cylinders, cylinder walls, pistons, piston rings and bearings can all be harmed by airborne dirt. But, luckily, engine air filters can trap these particles before they can cause problems. With fuel-injected cars, the air filter also keeps pollutants from clogging the airflow sensor.
Your car's cabin filter, on the other hand, cleans any air that enters the passenger compartment. It helps trap harmful things that might damage vital systems. These pollutants might include pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases. If these things make it into the car's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, they can cause a lot of trouble.
Regular attention should be given to both the engine and cabin air filters:
- The engine air filter should be inspected whenever you have an oil change. It should be replaced once a year or when it starts to show signs of wear.
- The cabin air filter can normally be accessed through the panel in the HVAC housing. It should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. And remember that this filter should never be cleaned and reinstalled.
An air filter inspection or replacement won't cost much at a service center. But some drivers prefer to check and change their own air filters.
How to Check and Change Your Car's Air Filters
If you're a DIY kind of car owner, changing an air filter is a simple task that can be done at home. You will want to check your owner's manual to find out what kind of air filter your car needs. Then you'll know what to buy when you visit the dealership or auto parts store.
You will also need these basic tools: a butter knife, a rag, a Philips head screwdriver and a standard screwdriver.
- Make sure that your car is parked on a flat surface and open the hood.
- Locate the air filter that you will be checking and/or changing. You can consult your owner's manual if you need help with this.
- Open the air filter case with the butter knife if it is held together with clips. Or, if the case is screwed together, use the appropriate screwdriver to get it open.
- Take out the old filter and replace it with the new one. You will also want to use the rag to wipe away any debris that is on or inside the case.
- Close the case by either reattaching the clips or putting back the screws.
If, however, you're uncomfortable with performing any kind of car maintenance service yourself, don't worry. An air filter replacement won't cost much at your preferred service center.
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