Come on now, you can tell us how nasty it is......sssh, we won't tell a soul! <wink>
Seriously, they don't need changing all that often and they can sure make your ride a bit sluggish...air filters are important because ultimately its your car's "breathing" mechanism. Your engine runs on a combination of air and gasoline. Your gas filter makes sure particles found in gasoline are filtered out and, of course, gasoline is not exposed to the weather, road dust, etc. Since air flow depends on where you drive and on what kinds of surfaces, your gas filter can get clogged.
106 St Tire & Wheel is always advising our customers to download their owners' manuals online from a Google search. In this case, we are urging you to do that because your specific car manufacturer will guide you to how often you should change your filters. Maintenance is "make" specific in that no one knows your vehicle better than its manufacturer. Here's how to get your owner's manual if you missed it when we've written about it previously. Google the make, model and year of your car like this: 2004 Honda Accord owners manual. You should be able to download right off the Internet it if you don't have it.
Each manufacturer, of course, has experience with the cars they make and their recommendations can vary. Here are a few major manufacturers and their recommendations so you can see how much they vary in stressing how critical it is for you to know what the manufacturer of your car recommends.
Examples of car manufacturer's recommendations on changing air filters:
- Chevrolet recommends that for most of their engines change every 45,000 miles
- Ford says it should be done every 30,000 miles on most of its engines
- Hyundai agrees with Ford stating they recommend that every 30,000 miles on their engines.
However, Hyundai adjusts and shortens air filter life expectancy and advises intense driving conditions which includes heavy traffic in hot weather and frequent driving on unpaved roads or dusty conditions, stating your air filter should be changed every 15,000 miles.
You can always do a visual on your own air filter. Air filters on most engines are fairly easy to access, and you can check the location in your owner's manual if you need help.
Take a look at it and you might be able to tell if it needs replacing if you notice black areas around the area where air enters your filter. Some times a air filter issue is so bad that you will be looking at a totally black filter.
It's important that your filter stay clean because a clogged air filter may not impact fuel efficiency but it may affect your acceleration which will affect your car's performance. The Department of Energy reported in 2009 that a dirty air filter can impact your acceleration gradually by about 6 to 10%. However, mechanics insist that these numbers are higher based on how dirty your filter is.
If it has been 3 years or 30,000 miles since your air filter was replaced, you probably should get a new one as lowering of performance is such a gradual thing you probably won't notice it until after you change your air filter and get better pick up when you drive.