There are at least 5 benefits of changing your air filter regularly; better gas mileage, reduced emissions, improved acceleration, increased engine life and overall improved driveability. For each gallon of fuel burned, the engine uses up to 10,000 gallons of air; thus why it is easy to understand how vital a clean air filter is to the proper operation of a car.
1. Increased fuel efficiency
One of the biggest reasons to change your air filter regularly. Some studies indicate that replacing a dirty air filter increases fuel mileage on older, carburated cars by as much as 14 percent if the filter is so dirty it affects driveability. In addition, changing a clogged air filter can potentially increase acceleration by 6 to 11 percent on modern fuel-injected cars. Other studies claim a 10 percent increase in gas mileage and up to R1.24 per liter fuel savings. Regardless of the exact figures, it is obvious that a clean air filter improves air flow to the engine and increases engine performance and gas mileage.
2. Reduced emissions
Clogged air filters can reduce air flow to the engine, literally choking it, and as a result affect the emission control systems of the car causing an incorrect air-fuel mixture and spark plug ignition problems which can lead to serious driveability issues. Spark plugs can become fouled which often times result in an engine miss or rough idle, while also greatly affecting fuel mileage. It can also increase engine deposits caused by having too rich of a fuel mixture and may cause the “Service Engine Soon” light to illuminate. Increased air flow to the engine allows it operate properly reducing fuel consumption and reducing emissions.
3. Prolongs engine life
Changing the air filter regularly helps prolong engine life because the air filter is designed to trap damaging dirt and debris that can damage internal engine parts such as the cylinders and pistons. Engine damage can occur from particles as small as a grain of salt and result in costly repairs.
4. Inexpensive and quick fix
An air filter is one of the least expensive maintenance components to replace and can be done by doing it yourself. It is important to make certain the replacement air filter is designed for your exact make and model of car. On newer, fuel-injected cars, the air filter is usually located near the top front or side of the engine by the throttle body. The air filter is rectangular in shape and enclosed in a rectangular, black plastic housing that will normally have clips or screws keeping it closed. On older, carburated cars, the air filter is round and located in a round metal housing above the carburator that is secured by a wing nut.
5. Easy to track
Air filters should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or so, more often in dusty driving conditions. The owner’s manual maintenance schedule will indicate how often the air filter should be replaced. A dirty air filter might appear clean but should still be replaced at the recommended intervals.
A new air filter will increase gas mileage, reduce emissions, allow optimal air flow and improve engine performance. In addition, changing your air filter regularly will protect the engine and vital internal engine parts from excess wear and damage that result in driveability issues and potentially expensive engine repairs.