Engine Air Filter: What are the Replacement Benefits?

Engine Air Filter, Filter Replacement, Lower Emissions, Check Engine LightWith inflation on the rise, motorists are always looking for ways to save money. Vehicle routine maintenance may seem like an expensive cost that you can put off. However, it’s really wise to spend a little now to prevent a more expensive repair down the road. A new engine air filter replacement has many benefits, including lower emissions and preventing the dreaded dashboard check engine light. 

History of Engine Air Filters

The first automobile engines did not have air filters, and the engineers quickly discovered the need for them. Both gasoline and diesel engines require large volumes of air for proper combustion. It’s essential that adequate amounts of clean air can enter the chambers. Even the smallest particles in the engine can have catastrophic effects. 

  • The first air filters were water and oil-bath types. They forced air through a deep U-shaped passageway filled with water or oil. This method worked to trap particles in the liquid but was difficult to maintain and service. It also had performance limitations. 
  • Simple paper filters placed directly on top of the carburetor soon replaced the bath-type filters. They found pleating the paper increased the surface area through which the air traveled. As more productive fuel injection designs emerged, the air filter moved further away from the engine.

How Engine Air Filters Work

All filters reduce particulates from entering the engine. Dirt, dust, pollen, and other particles are captured in the filter and prevented from damaging the internal components of your vehicle’s engine. Besides keeping contaminants out, an air filter must allow unrestricted airflow into the engine. Both diesel and gas combustion engines require an adequate amount of air to run efficiently. 

Types of Engine Air Filters

Here are three common engine air filter types. These include paper, gauze, and foam pre-filters.

  • Disposable Paper Filters: Paper air filters are currently the most common type. They are affordable and simple to replace but only appropriate for use in some cars. You cannot clean paper filters; they are not reusable, so it is important to replace them regularly.
  • Reusable Gauze Filters: Gauze air filters are long-lasting and washable. There are two gauze filter types: oiled gauze and synthetic dry gauze. 
    • The oiled gauze type is very popular and typically requires maintenance every 5000 miles. 
    • The synthetic dry gauze type requires periodic cleaning with a proprietary cleaning solution.
  • Foam Pre-Filters: Some manufacturers wrap foam around other air filter types. The foam pad attached to the air filter is a pre-filter, providing additional protection for vehicles driven in severe conditions. Contaminants must pass through the foam before reaching the air filter.

Factory-Recommended Service Intervals

Air filters are an essential layer of protection for the engine. They keep harmful particles out of the engine and prolong its life. Generally, you can expect air filter replacement to occur about once every 12 months or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.  You can replace it more often if you drive in dusty, high-pollen environments. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to see what kind of air filter the manufacturer recommends.

DIY Engine Air Filter Replacement

Find high-quality engine air filters at your local auto supply store or online marketplaces. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s size and type of filter since they are not a one-size-fits-all component. When replacing the engine air filter, have clean hands and prevent foreign objects, dirt, oil, and other contaminants from entering the engine.

New Engine Air Filter Benefits

A new engine air filter provides many benefits for your vehicle. Changing your air filter can protect the engine and vital internal components from excess wear and damage. A clean air filter helps maintain a clean engine, which will operate more efficiently.

  • Check Engine Light: A restricted air filter can cause many problems, including an illuminated check engine light. Replacing the dirty filter may turn off the check engine light, or a service technician may be required to reset it.
  • Increased Fuel Economy: Studies suggest that a new engine air filter on older, carbureted cars can improve fuel mileage by as much as 14 percent. Moreover, replacing a clogged engine air filter on modern fuel-injected cars may increase acceleration by 6-11 percent. Other studies state a 10 percent increase in gas mileage, which equals fuel savings. Regardless of your vehicle, it is evident that a clean air filter improves airflow to the engine and improves both engine performance and gas mileage.
  • Inexpensive Maintenance Task: An engine air filter is one of the least expensive vehicle components to replace. Only use factory-recommended replacement air filters for your exact make and model vehicle. Consult your owner’s manual for the engine air filter’s type, location, and appearance.
  • Longer Engine Life: Routinely changing your vehicle’s air filter helps prolong engine life. Dirt and debris can damage internal engine components such as the cylinders and pistons. Engine damage can occur from particulates as small as a grain of sand, resulting in costly repairs.
  • Lower Emissions: Clogged air filters can restrict airflow to the engine, causing an incorrect air-fuel mixture. Combustion issues may lead to spark plug ignition problems resulting in engine misfire or rough idle. Dirty engine air filters can also increase engine deposits caused by a fuel mixture that is too rich and may trigger the check engine light. Proper airflow to the engine allows it to operate correctly, reducing fuel consumption for lower emissions.

Vehicle Routine Maintenance

Scheduling routine maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly. Wentworth Automotive is a family-run auto repair shop in San Diego, California that has been in business since 1998. Our technicians are ASE-certified and can help with your engine air filter and diagnose the check engine light. 

Schedule An Engine Air Filter Service

Wentworth Automotive is your dealership alternative for vehicle maintenance and repairs, PLUS we offer an industry-leading 100,000-mile warranty. Call us at (858) 541-1044 or visit us online to reserve your appointment for filter replacement and discuss additional ways to lower emissions.