When Does Your Air Filter Need to be Changed?

Let’s start by addressing how you know when it’s time to change your air filter. The thresholds vary dramatically from about every 15,000-45,000 miles. Consult your owner’s manual or ask an Automotive Technician when you should change it on your vehicle.

If you are mechanically inclined, you may be able to tell by looking at it. You should look for black areas on the section through which outside air enters (usually corrugated or looks like a folded fan). If you can't tell by looking, but it's been more than 3 years or 30,000 miles, you should get a new one. If you live in an area that has a lot of air pollution or drive on dirt road regularly, you will need to change your air filter more often.

Why does it need to be changed?

1. Fuel Economy & Engine Performance:

Optimum air flow is vital to engine performance. Clogged air filters restrict the air flow to the engine, literally choking it. This causes an incorrect air-fuel mixture. This incorrect mixture can cause spark plug ignition problems in gasoline engines. In diesel engines, where there are no spark plugs to help along the power stroke in an engine, clogged air filters cause serious driveability issues. These issues can result in a rough idle or decreased acceleration power, which affects fuel mileage. While there is conflicting information on its specific impact on fuel economy, it is well documented that a clogged air filter can hurt acceleration by 6% to 11%. You could be experiencing issues with clogged air filters if you notice that your vehicle does not accelerate as well as it used to or sounds different when it idles.


2. Prolongs Engine Life:

Changing your air filter regularly will protect the engine and vital internal engine parts from excess wear and damage. It is designed to trap damaging dirt and debris to prevent damage to internal engine parts (pistons, cylinders, etc.). If even a tiny particle of dust gets into the internal components of the engine, it can result in potentially expensive engine repairs.

3. Inexpensive Maintenance:

An air filter is one of the least expensive maintenance components to replace and can be done along with your regular oil change.

4. Reduced Emissions:

The reduced air flow doesn’t just impact the engine it also affects the emission control systems. It can increase engine deposits caused by having too rich of a fuel mixture. Increased air flow to the engine allows it to operate properly, thereby reducing emissions.


Written by:

Beckie Bean

Digital Content Manager

November 6, 2017

Sources: US Dept. of Energy, Cars.com, CarsDirect

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