Why regularly changing your car's air filter protects you

September 19, 2014

The air you breathe while driving passes through a pair of filters before reaching you. By changing them regularly, you can help protect your health and engine’s performance.

Why regularly changing your car's air filter protects you

What are you breathing when you drive?

How much time did you spend driving today? Studies of North American drivers calculate that, on average, they’re in a vehicle one and a half hours a day. What about the air quality in your car’s environment?

Without a clean, effective car air filter, you and your passengers are likely breathing in dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and even ozone or volatile organic compounds (VOC). Disturbing? You bet. Especially if you have allergies or asthma. A clogged auto cabin air filter also blocks air flow from your vents, adding discomfort to health hazards.

A clean air filter improves air quality inside your car

Change your car's air filter for health, comfort and performance. Like at home, mold in the AC blows out the vents. Not healthy. On top of that, as you drive around town or on the highway, you have to deal with exhaust fumes and road dust.

The solution? Change the air filter yourself at least once a year or every 32,000 kilometers. Or have your garage mechanic do it during routine auto maintenance. It’s a cost-effective, healthy and easy thing to put on your to-do list.

An engine air filter is vital for engine performance

Your engine won’t run without air—in particular oxygen—because an internal combustion engine needs it to burn the gas or diesel your car uses. Basically, your engine mixes air and fuel to set off the small, contained explosions that fire up the cylinders to keep the pistons pumping and you moving down the road.

Where does the air filter come into play? You don’t want to breathe air full of dust and debris, and neither does your engine. Dirty air clogs up your engine’s combustion chambers, causing an automotive type of wheezing and poor performance. Even worse, your engine can wear out sooner just like your lungs would if dirty air was all you had to breathe.

Air filters for the fuel-efficient engines in today’s cars measure out the right ratio of air to fuel. Let that filter age and clog, you’ll feel the lack of oxygen on your engine’s performance. You need a new air filter when your car runs “rich” and has these symptoms:

  • Acceleration is slow and uneven
  • The engine skips and idles rough
  • Your fuel economy drops
  • Black smoke belches from your tail pipe

Include a car air filter in your regular vehicle maintenance

If you are handy and fairly confident about simple DIY auto maintenance, check and change your car's air filter in a few minutes. You need a little skill and no tools. Buy the air filter suggested for your make and model. Have more experience working on cars? You most likely have the skill set to change the engine filter, too.

Don’t have much time or automotive knowledge? Your auto repair garage is the place to go, at least once a year, for your car's air filter change.

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