Filters operate under a basic principle: Block out as much of the bad stuff as possible. They act as the kidneys to your vehicle engine and are vital to a vehicle’s health.
How often should they be replaced?
“Filters might be the best example of something that costs so little mattering so much,” said Patricia Serratore, senior vice-president for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. “Simply put, dirty filters can cost you money.”
These humble devices living under the hood and inside the car are integral to vehicle health. Neglecting them can lead to expensive repairs. Besides the oil and air filters, your vehicle might also use a filter in both the transmission and fuel systems.
A cabin air filter, found inside the vehicle, helps cleanse the air you and your passengers breathe.
ASE recommends changing oil filters at each oil change. Contaminants from old oil taints the fresh oil if the filter’s not replaced, Serratore said.
The problem reduces effectiveness of the fresh oil change and can reduce the engine’s lifespan.
“Routine oil changes and filter replacements remain at the top of the list of the most important parts of routine maintenance,” Serratore said.
Service centers and repair shops employ trained technicians who can assess a filter’s quality and life expectancy. They’re also a common source of troubleshooting.
ASE’s offers the following advice on vehicle filters:
- Fuel filter: Contaminants in gas—rust, dirt, tank chip—damage fuel injectors and the fuel pump. Your fuel economy may drop because contaminants also prevent fuel from burning efficiently. Inspect the fuel filter frequently, especially if you drive in dusty or smoggy areas.
- Oil filter: A new filter efficiently removes microscopic particles that cause engine wear and tear. Dirty filters can contribute to abrasion. Replace it every time you change your engine oil.
- Engine air filter: Like the fuel filter, a dirty air filter contaminates the engine compartment and lowers fuel economy. Inspect it in early springtime before pollen strikes.
- Cabin air filter: All the other filters are for the car itself, this one is for you and your passengers. This interior filter helps remove allergens and irritants from inside the car. Inspect your cabin air filter in early spring.
- To improve vehicle performance and lifespan – replace all filters regularly.
“Make it a point to listen to your car regularly and plan for routine maintenance as you would health and dental care,” Serratore said.