Air Filter Maintenance >
Some would argue that next to changing the oil in your car, regularly inspecting and maintaining the air filter is the most important maintenance item you can do. The importance of air filters cannot be overstated: It is, after all, how the engine "breathes." In layman’s terms, outside air enters the intake system after dirt, dust and other foreign particulates are first filtered, thereby preventing them from entering the system and possibly damaging the engine. A clean air filter, therefore, is critical to your car's performance and fuel economy.
Air filters are relatively inexpensive, costing on average between $12.00 - $30.00 depending on the make and model. Generally speaking, they are made either from a paper-like material, or from an oil-impregnated fabric like those by K&N. While each has its advantages and disadvantages – a subject for a future article – suffice it so say that every automotive manufacturer uses a paper element air filter.
A dirty air filter can also cause other systems to run ineffectively, such as the emissions control system, which regulates your car's air-fuel mixture. The engine is, in essence, nothing more than an air pump. If the amount of air entering the system is restricted, it limits the amount of air being expelled through the exhaust, which results in poor fuel economy at best, and fouled sparks plugs and/or a damaged catalytic converter at worst.
John recommends that the air filter should be changed at least once a year, more frequently if you live in an area with dirt roads or heavy pollution. We think it’s so important that we inspect the air filter of every car that enters one of our facilities – at no cost – regardless of why it’s in the shop.
If you plan on inspecting the air filter in your car, look for a large box on top of the engine with round, black plastic tubes leading out of it. This is the air filter box and it may be round or square, plastic or metal. It will have a top that comes off to access the air filter, which, if blackened, is restricting the passage of air. In this case, the filter should be replaced. If you are unable to find the air box or have any questions about the condition of your air filter, please stop by one of our four convenient locations and we will be glad to help you.
As far as John is concerned, and unlike the quick-service oil change operations, we only use OEM or better paper element air filters. While these might cost a few dollars more (if that; we’re very competitive in our pricing), it’s not worth taking short cuts for something that’s critical to the life of your engine.