Benefits of Air Filter Replacement
Auto mechanics exist for a reason. When it comes to taking care of major repair jobs or diagnosing tough automotive issues, having your local mechanic around can save you plenty of headaches. Unfortunately, tough economic times make the hourly fees of a mechanic much harder to swallow. For this reason, it’s a good idea to learn how to take care of the smaller repair items on your own. These items include your car’s air filter. This item is usually one of the easiest for car owners to replace themselves.
Why Replace your Air Filter?
There are several benefits to replacing your car’s air filter:
• Increased engine performance – As the engine struggles to pull air past a clogged air filter, it works harder and uses a richer fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. This can foul spark plugs and increase engine deposits, both which adversely affect fuel economy.
• Improved fuel economy – A dirty air filter causes the engine to work harder to pull air from the outside. If the engine works harder, it will use more fuel in the process. Many studies show that replacing the dirty air filter on a fuel injected vehicle can help increase its fuel economy by up to 10-percent.
• Reduced vehicle emissions – Clogged air filters reduce engine air flow, providing an air/fuel mixture imbalance. This causes the vehicle to produce more exhaust emissions than normal, contributing to the pollution of the surrounding environment.
• Increases engine life – It only takes a speck of debris no smaller than a grain of salt to do expensive damage to an engine’s cylinders and pistons. A clean air filter catches dirt and debris from outside air, preventing them from reaching the combustion chamber.
How to Replace an Air Filter
On most vehicles, replacing an air filter is as easy as lifting up a cover, pulling the filter out and sliding the new filter back in. The air filter is usually located in a plastic air intake box near the front of the vehicle. Some vehicles, especially older models that use a carburetor or early fuel injection systems, have the air filter located on top of the engine under a metal cover. In most cases, you only have to undo several clips holding the air filter box together and separate the box from the rest of the intake.
Other vehicles hide the air filter under a series of sound-deadening shrouds. These shrouds usually require simple hand tools or the unlatching of several clamps to come loose. When replacing the air filter, make sure it goes in the same way it came out. Having some filters turned in the wrong direction can cause them to not fit properly in the air intake box and provide inadequate filtering or air flow while the engine is running.
Before attempting to change your air filter, make sure you have the right filter on hand. Your local auto parts outlet can help you find the right filter for your vehicle. Also, it’s a good idea to change the filter while the engine is cool. Never work on a hot engine or attempt to change the air filter while the vehicle is running. You could receive serious burns or cut yourself on the rotating radiator fans. When in doubt, refer to your owner’s manual for further instructions.