Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How Filters Keep Your Car Clean Under the Hood

How Filters Keep Your Car Clean Under the Hood

filters under the hood

Your car has three different types of filters that work to keep the contaminants, debris, and impurities out of the fuel system, engine air supply system and car cabin air supply. They are the oil filter, air filter, and cabin air filter, respectively. If any of these filters is not functioning optimally, you will soon see that your car is not running, as it should. Thus, it is advisable to have your mechanic check them at regular intervals as recommended by the car manufacturer. Also, make sure you have them cleaned or replaced when they show clogging.

Air filter

  • What the air filter does: The air filter protects your engine from organic and inorganic debris that may enter it. These can be bugs, dirt, road debris, water or any other impurities the car might pick up on the road. The air filter also ensures that your engine gets the oxygen-rich air supply it needs to efficiently burn fuel and give you the maximum mileage per gallon of gasoline.

  • Symptoms of wear or clogging: If the air filter does not clean effectively, the engine has to work harder to burn fuel. Not only does it consume more fuel, but it also does not burn it completely. As a result, unburnt fuel makes its way out of the exhaust resulting in a black sooty smoke and even flames. You’ll also notice lower horsepower and acceleration, and lower fuel efficiency along with coughing sounds from the car engine. You might also have trouble starting up the engine because of sooty deposits on the spark plug.

  • When to change the air filter: It is advisable to replace the air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or once in 12 months. However, if you live in a rural area or drive in dusty roads frequently, you might want to have it replaced every 6,000 miles.

Cabin air filter

  • What the cabin air filter does: The cabin air filter keeps the air inside the car cabin clean. It filters out dirt, dust, pollen, allergens, smoke, soot, mold spores, and other contaminants and prevents them from entering through the air-conditioning and heating vents.

  • Symptoms of wear or clogging: If the cabin air filter is not performing properly, you’ll notice a musty odor in the car and low pressure air flow from the car cabin vents. This is because of unfiltered air circulating in the cabin. You might also notice that the air-conditioning or heating is not very effective. A clogged car cabin air filter will result in your engine diverting power towards it and you’ll notice a lower horsepower.

  • When to change the cabin air filter: Consult the owner’s manual for directions on when to change the cabin air filter. Most manufacturers recommend that you change it every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or once in 12 months. Depending on the conditions in which you typically drive, you could have your mechanic check the cabin air filter every six months.

Fuel filter

  • What the fuel filter does: Essentially, the fuel filter works to protect your engine and keep it working. It cleans and filters the motor oil to remove the contaminants and metal shavings it gathers while circulating around the engine. An efficient fuel air filter can help prolong the time frame between motor oil changes. Most fuel filters come with a bypass valve that allows the motor oil to flow around the filter if it is too clogged and does not allow the free flow of oil.

  • Symptoms of wear or clogging: A worn out or clogged fuel filter will cause the engine to work harder to pump oil. This will result in lower fuel economy and slower acceleration. An insufficient motor oil supply can also cause friction in the engine’s vital parts, and overheating. Thus, your engine could stop functioning and the car could come to a complete halt.

  • When to change the fuel filter: The frequency with which you need to have the fuel filter replaced can depend on the conditions in which you drive and the kind of filter media or the membranes inside the fuel filter. Oil filters with cellulose media need replacing every 3,000 miles while those with synthetic media could need a change at every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Oil filters with microglass media remain effective up to 10,000 miles. As an added precaution, have your mechanic check the fuel filter for clogging every time you take the car for maintenance.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0359 OBD-II Trouble Code: Ignition Coil I Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction
P0359 code definition The P0359 code indicates that a fault has been detected in one of the vehicle’s ignition coils, generally the number 9 coil. This code can also be associated...
P0477 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Pressure Control Valve Low
P0477 code means that the PCM has detected an abnormally low voltage reading often due to the exhaust back pressure control valve circuit.
P0684 OBD-II Trouble Code: Glow Plug Control Module to PCM Communication Circuit Range/Performance
P0684 code means there is a failing connection within the Glow Plug Control Module often due too corroded wires and solenoid failures.


Related questions

Q: So it hasn't been 3 months/3000 kilometer since I changed oil in my car and it is asking me to change it soon. Do I keep driving or change oil?

Unless you are using full synthetic engine oil with high mileage ratings, I recommend replacing the engine oil. Standard engine oil will burn up all of the additives (cleaning agents) between 2,500 to 3,000 miles or 120 hour of use....

Q: When Should I Replace My Oil Filter?

Consistently changing a vehicle’s oil filter is as important as changing its oil. While some drivers, such as those who do deliveries or other frequent driving, may require oil filter changes more often. The general rule of thumb for replacement...

Q: When do I need to change oil or oil filter

If you have driven your car for more than 5000 miles since you bought the car, then it is time to get the oil changed now. Once you get the oil and filter changed, then you should have the vehicle...