HomeAUTO MOTIVEThe Air Filter: Why Is It Needed, and When Should It Be...

The Air Filter: Why Is It Needed, and When Should It Be Replaced?

A car air filter is a fairly simple element. In this regard, vehicle owners often neglect to choose a quality replacement. Therefore, it’s necessary to understand what kind of part it is, why it’s needed, and when it’s high time to replace it.

Why Is the Air Filter Needed?

According to statistics, cars consume from 5,100 to 6,500 gallons of air for every 100 miles traveled. In the absence of filtration, quite a lot of dust and sand get into the engine. It leads to a decrease in the efficiency of the motor and then to its breakdown.

To avoid such problems, a special appliance is used. It’s the vehicle’s air filter that is responsible for cleaning the air and muffling the noise of the engine, which spreads throughout the intake channel. If we talk about gasoline engines, then the air filter allows you to adjust the temperature of the so-called combustible mixture.

As the filter becomes clogged, the volume of oxygen entering the engine decreases significantly. It inevitably leads to the enrichment of the fuel mixture, which means its incomplete combustion. As an outcome, the engine’s efficiency decreases, and the volume of harmful substances in the exhaust gasses increases.

To preserve the life of the engine, this filter should be changed regularly, as a contaminated product complicates the functioning of your car’s motor.

What Are the Types of Air Filters?

The automotive market offers an incredibly large inventory today. Therefore, several versions are available for almost every car to choose from instead of one standard one, from wrecked cars for sale and verified by time types of filters to the newest ecological decisions. We suggest you consider the types of car air filters, as well as analyze their benefits and drawbacks.

Paper Air Filter

Perhaps the most common models among air filters are those in which the main element consists of a special corrugated paper of a certain shape. Their fibrous structure allows air to flow freely while retaining water and other contaminants on their fibers. Such air filters last an average of 6,000 to 9,000 miles. In the event of inactive operation of the vehicle, the air filter should be changed every two years. Another obvious advantage of paper air filters is their low cost, ease of installation, and operation. These appliances are very light, but they have their disadvantages, of course.

They cannot be restored if the corrugated paper breaks. Such filters are disposable. They are very sensitive to mechanical loads and high humidity. When an air filter becomes dirty, its throughput decreases, which naturally negatively affects the dynamics of the engine.

Oiled Air Filter

Next in terms of popularity are oil air filters, which are also called “wet” air filters. Their construction is also quite simple. As a filter element, mineral oil is used here, which is poured into a special housing, and the air flow passes through it, and all the particles that are stuck remain in the oil.

The main advantage of such an appliance is its multiple uses. After the oil has exhausted its life, the filter is washed and filled with new mineral oil. The heavy weight and relatively low ability to clean the air have caused the low usage of such filters in modern cars.

Zero Resistance Air Filter

In addition to the above two types of air filters, car manufacturers of tuned sports cars successfully install a zero resistance filter. They are similar in design to the paper appliances but have a number of structural differences. Here, foam inserts act as a barrier. Zero-drag filters pump huge amounts of air into a car’s engine with very little delay, allowing the motor to be saturated with a sufficient volume of air in short periods of time. Such air filters are relevant for cars with forced or turbocharged engines.

The main and probably only disadvantage of zero-resistance filters is their high volume when the engine is running. Although this factor isn’t particularly important for forced engines. This type of filter is excellent in its efficiency and significantly contributes to increasing engine power.

Short Ram Air Intake Filter

Structurally, these are short intake systems, the main element of which is a small aluminum pipe with a built-in dry filter. This whole system is usually installed at the bottom of the engine compartment. Due to the fact that the running motor heats the pipe, already heated air enters the cylinders, which significantly improves the overall engine performance.

On many cars, such appliances are installed without problems. Besides all that, the filter cartridge, which is located on top of the pipe, can be changed in a matter of minutes. This air filtration system doesn’t have any obvious negative points.

When Should the Air Filter Be Changed?

An experienced motorist can make a purely visual conclusion about the need for replacement. To make such an assessment, you need to remove the filter to examine it. If the air filter is heavily clogged and covered with dirt or oil, it must be replaced, while if it’s clean enough, you can drive with it for a while longer.

In general, the standard term for replacing filters of this type is about 9,000 miles traveled. If there are doubts, they can be dispelled using the documentation for the vehicle, as it indicates the replacement period.

An air filter not replaced on time leads to:

  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Reduction of engine power
  • Increase in engine operating temperature

It makes sense to replace the filter at the same time as changing the oil. Along with that, the filter is changed either with the same periodicity or once, as everything depends on the conditions in which the vehicle is operated.

Diesel cars are a little complicated when it comes to changing the air filter. They require significantly more frequent replacement due to the features of their construction, in particular, the presence of a turbine.

The Bottom Line

It makes no sense to save on such a small detail as a car air filter because engine failure, which is inevitable if the above steps aren’t followed, will cost much more than the filter itself. At the same time, you should realize what type of air filter will be most suitable for your car. Keep all the detailed guidelines in the vehicle’s technical documentation or get a consultation at a licensed car service center.

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