Whether you are a car-savvy do-it-yourself-er or you’re simply a curious car owner, understanding what an air filter does and is can prove valuable information.
Most people prefer the human body analogy because it’s easy to understand. It generally states that if your car is a human body, you can think of the air filter as the lungs. It’s a bit of an oversimplification, however, the basic concept of regulating and filtering oxygen is the key component here.
Cabin Air Filter Vs Engine Air Filter
A common mistake a lot of people make is thinking that the vehicle’s air filter deals with the air entering the cabin of the vehicle. There is in fact a filter that does that, but it is called your cabin air filter.
It is also a very important part of your vehicle, however, the distinction between the two is important as one filters the air entering the cabin so that you’re not breathing in a bunch of nasty stuff. And the other does the same for your vehicle.
What Happens When Your Air Filter Gets Too Dirty
When an engine air filter is too dirty it restricts airflow (oxygen) to the engine. This can create a rich mixture that can both cause poor fuel economy as well as a build-up of carbon.
If an air filter is too clogged, it can even cause the engine to rip through the filter! This results in dirt and debris being pulled directly into the engine possibly causing engine damage.
That is some pretty serious stuff! Believe it or not, but ignoring your air filter can lead to some very costly repairs down the road, so make sure your air filter gets changed. You can rest easy though because so long as you have your filter checked and replaced at regular intervals, you should be just fine!
As a general rule of thumb, you should have your air filter checked/replaced once a year or every 15k miles. That is the current industry recommendation at the time of this article’s writing.
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