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Air ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are contaminants in the air we breathe, and guess what? Your car breathes that same air. And that’s where your air filter comes in.
Think of your car’s air filter as a bouncer at the club. The air filter keeps those airborne contaminants from entering the engine, which is good for the engine’s health. In the process, it allows your motor to breathe properly. Long story short, the air filter receives air, kicks out the contaminants that are bad for the engine, and lets the motor move along unperturbed.
And that’s kind of it, which is convenient. Not much for you to have to learn here. But let’s dig a little deeper, in case you still have questions. Why does your car need clean air, you might ask? Well, the engine pulls air from the air and uses it for combustion. The air mixes with the fuel is a combustion chamber, where, after it’s ignited, it explodes. And that’s how your car gets its power.
So, you can probably see why it’s important to have a clean air filter. It reduces how much nastiness enters your engine at this critical time and place. Do you like having dirty air enter you? No? Okay then. Neither does your car.
Air filters get a lot of use, because…well, because your car uses a lot of air. So, they wear out, and they’ll need to be replaced with some regularity.
And before you ask, no: Don’t even think about cleaning your air filter and putting it back in. Just get the thing replaced. It’s quick, simple, and affordable.
Come ON, Car! When you notice that things aren’t as spicy as they used to be (power-wise), it may be time to check that air filter. When engine air filters get severely clogged, they restrict air flow to the engine, stopping it from taking full, deep breaths. Why does that matter? Well, you try going for a run without taking any full, deep breaths. How's that working out for ya?
Time to fill up …. again? Yup, that may be a bad air filter, pal. When your engine is starved of air, it doesn’t work as efficiently. Again, think of taking a run without any full, deep breaths. Are you going to be able to run as far on your human tank of gas? No, you’re not. And your car isn’t, either. Being unable to operate efficiently means you need to expend more energy to do less. In the case of your car, that means using more fuel. Which means getting worse mileage. Which means spending more money at the gas tank. And I know how much you love spending extra money. It’s worth noting that a car’s computer can compensate for a lot when it comes to engine performance and fuel efficiency, so modern engines aren’t as susceptible to this problem as older engines are. But you’ll definitely notice a dip in fuel efficiency if you have an older car.
If the filter looks all gunked up, it’s time to get you a replacement. That seems simple enough, right? Now look: I know you’re probably not spending your spare time hanging out with your air filter. So, there’s a good chance you’ll never notice a clogged filter. But a technician will, so if you’re having your car serviced or your oil changed, a professional should easily spot an air filter that needs to be replaced.
Ahh, so close. You thought you could get through this whole article without the dreaded “scheduled maintenance” tip, and you almost did. But here we are, with the scheduled maintenance that you pay about as much attention to as recipes and maps. Who needs them? Well, you do. Because they help you know when it’s time to have certain services, which can save your butt and wallet down the road. After certain intervals of distance and/or time, your manufacturer recommends changing out the air filters. So, when you reach those milestones, get those things swapped out. Seriously.
To keep your engine healthy and running its best, the engine air filter should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, or as soon as it’s apparent that it’s clogged up and not functioning properly. Pretty straightforward. Just get it done.
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