5 Common Air Filter Questions

Air filter is a filtration device placed on the mouth of air intake system of vehicles. It prevents abrasive particulate matter such as dirt, dust, pollen and insects from entering internal combustion engine. Several air filter variants are available on the market today, each using different elements such as paper, foam, cotton and oil bath for filtering the air before it enters the engine.

Pleated-paper filter elements are the most commonly used due to their cost effectiveness, efficiency and ease of service. While oil-wetted polyurethane foam, oiled cotton gauze and oil bath elements are extremely efficient, they are mostly used by motor sport professionals due to extreme driving conditions and high maintenance costs.

Following are 5 questions that will help you understand air filters: 

1 - How Does an Air Filter Work?

An internal combustion engine requires air (oxygen) for burning the fuel. When a pumping system sucks the air from outside environment, unwanted and damaging particulate matter such as pollen, dust and even insects enter the system. If these foreign particles enter the engine, they can lower the engine performance or damage the engine. Air filter connected to the throttle body prevents any such dirt from entering the engine by using any of the filter elements described above. 

2 - When Should I Change my Air Filter?

Ideally, air filter should be cleaned or replaced after every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. It is also advisable to check air filter after every oil change (which should be every 3,000 miles). This is particularly important if you drive or reside in dusty areas.

3 - How to Change an Air Filter?

Air filters are encased in metal or plastic frames, which are usually round or square in shape. This makes their identification quiet simple. Once the air filter is spotted, it can be replaced as follows.

Materials and Equipments Required:

  • New Air Filter
  • Screw driver
  • Rags

Replacement Procedure:

  • Using a screw driver, remove clamps or screws that hold the filter.
  • Clean the dirt and debris from the housing with a rag.
  • Place a new filter in the housing.
  • Fix the filters screws or clamps with a screw driver and close the hood.

4 - What are the Benefits of Replacing the Old Filter?

  • Changing air filters regularly increases the fuel efficiency of the engine. Clogged and dirty filters affects engine performance too. Clean filters on the other hand can increase the engine performance or acceleration of modern fuel-injected cars by 6 to 11 percent.
  • Air filters filled with dirt and grime affect the air–fuel mixture ratio. Once this specific ratio is disturbed, your car starts emitting exhausts gas, which is full of unburnt carbon particles leading to more pollution.  
  • It increases the life expectancy of engine by restricting entry of abrasive materials to the engine through contaminated air.

5 - Can I Reuse my Old Filter after Cleaning It?

Paper-pleated air filters are very cheap and can be replaced easily. Moreover, cleaning paper air filters by using water damages them completely. Therefore, it is advisable to replace them with new ones instead of cleaning and replacing them. Cotton, foam and oil-bath filters just require the replacement of filter element, which can be done easily at home.