We all know that air filters are used in our cars. But it’s an often overlooked part that we remember only when it’s time to get an oil change.
Even then, many people don’t feel their air filter is important enough to have replaced. But a car air filter actually plays a bigger role in the health of our car and ourselves than most of us realize.
With that in mind, keep reading. We’re sharing with you what a car filter does and why you need to change that dirty cabin air filter.
What a Car Air Filter Does
Many people wonder, “what does a cabin air filter do?” After all, it’s not something we can see so it’s often out of sight and out of our minds.
The car air filter, which is found on most late-model vehicles is more important than we realize. Its job is to clean the air that comes into the interior of our car through the ventilation, heating, and air-conditioning system.
The auto air filter is used to catch airborne materials like pollen and dust that would otherwise enter into our cars and make for an unpleasant riding experience.
How Often You Should Replace Your Dirty Cabin Air Filter
Most of us aren’t going to remember to check our air filters to see if they’re dirty. Even if we did, sometimes, it’s hard to even tell how dirty they really are.
Since every vehicle differs on when car air filters should be replaced, check with the manufacturer to make sure. Some people feel that replacing air filters every 12,000 to 15,000 is appropriate.
However, that depends on how often you drive and where. If you tend to drive in heavy traffic in an urban area with poor air quality, it’s recommended you change your air filter annually, if not more often.
The same is true if you reside in a desert climate where the high amounts of dust require your air filter to be changed more often.
Signs Your Car Filter Needs Changing
In most cars, it’s not that difficult to check your air filter. It’s located just behind your glove compartment. You should be able to easily access it by freeing the glove box from its fasteners.
However, since some cabin air filters are under the dashboard or hood, it’s not always so easy to take a peek. Check with your owner’s manual for instructions.
Even if you don’t physically take a look to see if you have a dirty cabin air filter, there are signs that tell you when you need a replacement. If you notice reduced air flow within your climate control system, it’s a sign you need a new air filter.
Also, increased noise when you turn up the fan higher is a sign you could use a new air filter. Bad odors are another sign. However, if you don’t keep your car clean, that may not be as noticeable.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have your air filter checked once a year by a professional. Be aware that some air filters are expensive and can cost you up to $50 at a dealership. You can find better deals online.
Reasons to Replace Your Car Air Filter
Many people don’t realize how much your air filter contributes to a better, less expensive, and healthier car ride. Let’s go through the top five reasons why you should regularly replace your dirty cabin air filter.
1. Fewer Emissions
Cars pollute the environment. The more we do to lessen our car’s emissions, the more we help our planet.
A clogged and dirty air filter reduces air flow to your car’s engine and ends up choking it. This affects the emission control systems of your car.
Clogged air filters end up causing an incorrect air-fuel mixture as well as spark plug ignition problems. These can lead to some serious driving issues.
Fouled up spark plugs can cause an engine miss or rough idle. Doing so affects your fuel mileage.
Then there are the engine deposits which occur when there’s too rich of a fuel mixture. Your “Service Engine Soon” light turning on is a good indication you have deposits.
When you regularly replace your air filters, your engine operates properly. This reduces fuel consumption and emissions.
2. Better Fuel Efficiency
Fuel isn’t cheap. And maximizing your car’s fuel efficiency is one of the biggest reasons to change your air filter on a regular basis.
In fact, replacing your dirty cabin air filter on a regular basis can actually increase your fuel mileage by 15%. Especially if you drive an older vehicle.
You may even be able to increase your acceleration by 6 to 11 percent on newer fuel-injected vehicles. While your car may not show those exact figures, you will notice improved air flow to the engine. As such, your engine performance and gas mileage will improve to some degree.
3. Longer Engine Life
By changing your car air filters, it helps to prolong the life of your engine. That’s because the air filter is designed to trap dirt and debris that cause damage to internal engine parts like the cylinders and pistons.
Even small particles such as a grain of salt can cause engine damage and force you to make costly repairs.
4. It’s Easy to Track When You Need a New Air Filter
Check with your owner’s manual as to when your specific model needs a new air filter. Usually, every 12,000 to 15,000 miles works best.
You can also just plan on replacing it once a year, especially if you live in an urban or dusty area. Even if it looks clean, make sure to replace the filter at regular intervals.
You can always just have it replaced when you get an oil change.
5. It’s One of the Cheapest Maintenance Components with Your Car
While some air filters may cost up to $50 at a dealership, you can find them elsewhere for less money. Also, $50 is still much cheaper than having your engine fixed or replaced.
In fact, replacing your air filter is one of the least expensive components to replace to maintain your car. And you can actually replace it yourself.
6. It’s Easy to Get Your Auto Air Filter Replaced
It’s not that difficult to replace your air filter. Make sure you purchase a replacement filter that’s designed to fit the exact make and model of your car. Check with your owner’s manual to find that information.
On newer cars which are fuel-injected, the air filter tends to be located near the top front or side of the engine near the throttle body. In older cars, it’s past the glove compartment.
Most air filters are rectangular in shape. You should find it enclosed in a rectangular black plastic housing that has screws or clips to keep it closed. Older, carburated cars have round air filters located in a round metal housing above the carburetor.
This type of air filter is secured by a wing nut.
7. Reduces Pollution
Cars cause pollution. When you’re driving, you’re surrounded by other cars, all of which are emitting pollution into the air.
To help keep you healthy, your air filter needs to be changed regularly. That’s because the air filter works to block out the smog and exhaust emitted by the other cars on the road.
8. Reduces Allergens
Allergies are a big concern for many people. And it’s not just debris and pollution that can get into your car and cause you health issues, allergens can as well.
It’s easy for pollen to get into your vehicle if you don’t have a properly working air filter to stop it. The less often you change your filter, the more pollen will build up and get into your car.
Those who live in areas with high amounts of pollen, especially those who live in areas with high numbers of oak trees should pay close attention to how often they change their air filters.
However, there are other allergens that can cause health problems. No matter where you live, it’s best to change your air filter regularly.
9. Removes Various Debris that Get Trapped
There’s more than just dirt and smog that can get trapped in your auto air filter. Debris such as twigs and leaves can also make their way in and get trapped there.
This is especially true if you live in an area with lots of trees and bushes. Objects like acorns and leaves can hugely affect how well your air system works.
10. Reduction in Air Conditioner Efficiency
Our summers are getting hotter. And if you live in a place where the temperatures can get dangerously hot, you need your air conditioner to work efficiently.
As your air filter becomes clogged, it makes it more difficult for your air conditioner to push the cool air through the filter. That means your air condition makes more noise and works less efficiently.
To ensure your air conditioner works well and quickly, replace your air filters regularly.
Keep You and Your Family Safe
Changing your car air filter regularly is just one way to keep yourself and your family safe from environmental pollutants and allergens. There are other filters you can use.
Whether it’s a filter for the air or water, we can help you learn how to protect yourself. For more information on air and water filters, click here to read our blog.