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Car air filter - What does it do?

In many newer cars, there are two air filters: one in the cabin and one in the engine compartment. The latter is vital for your engine’s well-being, as it keeps dirt and dust from contaminating it. It is located in the air-intake system of your car and catches dirt before it causes damage to your engine
The air filter in the car’s cabin filters the air you breathe through the ventilation or air-conditioning system. While this is definitely a comfortable addition to modern cars, it is not as important to keep your car running smoothly as the air filter for your engine. 

This air filter is either made from paper, cotton, or synthetic materials. Depending on the material you can clean and reuse the filter or will have to replace it at certain intervals. You should check your vehicle’s handbook for a recommendation on the perfect filter if you need a new one, or ask your mechanic. 

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What happens when the air filter gets dirty?

Over time, the dirt and dust your air filter collects will clog it. While this isn’t an urgent problem it can lead to bigger issues down the road. Since changing the air filter is pretty inexpensive and easy, you shouldn’t postpone it for too long. 

Here are some issues a clogged filter can cause:

  • When too much dirt accumulates in the filter it will restrict airflow to the engine and thus reduce acceleration quite significantly. 
  • The air-fuel mixture is usually fine-tuned for maximum efficiency and a clogged filter can throw off its balance. This can cause dirty spark plugs, engine misfires, and increased exhaust emissions, which pollute the environment. A sign of this can be black smoke from the exhaust!
  • Particles that are not filtered can enter and ultimately damage the engine. Once the engine has a problem you are looking at some rather costly repairs. 
  • With restricted airflow, your engine has to work harder for the same result, thus using more fuel. Therefore a clogged filter can lead to decreased fuel efficiency. 

How often do I change the air filter in my car?

Car air filter replacement depends on the manufacturer’s schedule and driving conditions. Your handbook will usually tell you how often a filter should be changed. Your car’s air filter will also be replaced during a service

In extreme driving conditions, such as very dusty roads, you might need an air filter change sooner than recommended. Usually, you can simply tell by looking at the filter whether it needs cleaning or replacing. If you are unsure how to check have your garage check the filter’s condition during every oil change.

Air filter cleaning or replacement?

Depending on the type of air filter you have, you can clean it yourself before a replacement is due. The filter sits on top of the engine and should be easy enough to locate. Open the housing to remove it - depending on its make the filter is clipped in or bolted in place. 

How to clean a car air filter? The task is pretty straightforward: some filters can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner while others can be washed with water and detergent. If you wash your filter you need to make sure that it is completely dry before reinstalling it. 

While cleaning prolongs the air car filter’s performance quite a bit, eventually it becomes time for a replacement. Your mechanic can recommend the best filter for your car and do the replacement. On you can request various quotes from garages to replace the dirty air filter in your car. 

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Prices on engine repairs, cleaning and replacement

The average prices and savings for the car brands shown are based on different models and years. You must therefore create a job and compare quotes to see your actual price and savings.
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£139 / 25%
£139 / 28%
£172 / 23%
£152 / 24%
£135 / 24%
£173 / 30%
£154 / 25%
£183 / 24%
£138 / 25%
£156 / 26%

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