In any vehicle that has an emissions system, otherwise known as a smog control system, it is vital that the air that enters the system is free of contaminants and debris. This is because the air is recirculated along with exhaust gases, and any contaminant will enter the combustion chamber. The air pump filter prevents this from happening, and it works in basically the same way as your regular air filter. The air pump filter is made of cardboard or mesh fibers that are designed to trap debris, and of course at some point, it will get clogged and it will need to be replaced.
Whenever you drive, your air pump filter is working. There are so many variables involved that it is not possible to state with any certainty how long the filter will last, but it is probably safe to assume that you will, at some point, need to replace it. How often you drive will be a factor, as will the conditions in which you are driving. Basically, the more contaminants are sucked up into the air pump, the more often the filter will need to be replaced.
Signs that your air pump filter may need to be replaced include:
- Poor fuel economy
- Rough idle
- Car does not pass emissions testing
You can continue to drive with a dirty air pump filter, but it is not advisable. If you do, you will be running the risk of engine damage and possibly costly repairs. If you think that your air pump filter needs to be replaced, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic.