Every internal combustion engine needs air in order to work. Without it, fuel does not burn and provide the force needed to deliver power to the engine. Additionally, the air has to be clean. Otherwise, dust and debris will foul the engine, reducing performance, wearing down metal components, and shortening the life of your car. When the engine fails to get enough air, more strain is placed upon it.
This is where your car’s air filter comes in. From the time you start your car until the moment you turn it off, your air filter is always working. It delivers the correct amount of air to the engine, and traps the dirt that can harm the engine. However, even the finest air filter is only going to do its job for so long. So, how do you know when you should change the air filter?
It depends a great deal on your driving conditions. If you do a lot of “stop and go” city driving, or if you spend a lot of time exploring dirt roads, you will probably have to replace the air filter more frequently than someone who drives infrequently, and usually on pavement.
Your air filter should be changed about every 6,000 to 10,000 miles, and ideally at the same time you change your oil. At the very least, you should have it inspected. Simply stated, it doesn’t cost anything to take a look, and you could avoid expensive repairs later on.
Regardless of these guidelines, given that air filters can wear out at different rates, you should be aware of symptoms that indicate the air filter is coming to the end of its life. Signs that your air filter needs to be replaced include:
- A significant decrease in gas mileage
- Ignition problems, slow starting or failure to start
- Engine misfiring
- Engine idles rough
- Service Engine Light is on
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should look to have your air filter replaced.