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maintenance July 14, 2017

How often should I change my engine air filter?

Ever heard the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”? This term definitely applies to your vehicle’s engine air filter. Some people don’t even know they exist! Let us help you understand the importance of your vehicle’s engine air filter.

What is the purpose of my engine air filter?

The purpose of your engine air filter is to prevent dust, pollen, pollution and other debris from entering the engine. These types of particles can act as grit that damage metal in precision contact surfaces such as the piston rings and cylinder walls. The effects can be devastating, like reduced cylinder compression, scratches in cylinder walls which allow too much oil blow-by in the combustion chambers, interference between valves and valve seats, damage to cylinders, and can contribute to gunk and sludge buildup in the intake manifold.

When should I replace my engine air filter?

Most vehicle owner’s manuals have a replacement interval. That interval is a good guideline to follow. However, sometimes the manufacturer intervals don’t apply to everyone. For example, if you frequently drive on dirt roads or commute through an area that is under construction, you need to replace your filter more often.

If you are able to visually inspect your engine air filter, here are a few things to look for:

  • Excessive dirt (or sand, during the summer months)

  • Oil saturation- this is can be the result of another problem. Do not just replace the filter if you find oil saturation.

  • Foreign objects- anything from a rodent to a Hot Wheels toy car (yep, we’ve seen it all)


Here is the difference in a clean vs dirty engine air filter:









What are the benefits of a new engine air filter?


A clean air filter results in improved gas mileage, better acceleration, increased engine life, lower emissions and overall improved engine performance. Not only does an air filter clean the air entering the engine but it also prevents debris from entering the engine and causing damage. In some instances, a clean air filter will improve gas mileage by as much as 14% and may increase acceleration by up to 11% depending on the make and model of vehicle.


Replacing the engine air filter can also prevent expensive repairs. If an air filter gets clogged, the A/C will have to work harder and the motor can burn up. A dirty air filter also prevents the necessary volume of clean air from reaching the engine which affects the emission control systems of the car; reducing air flow and causing an inaccurate air-fuel mixture which can affect the spark plugs. Weak spark plugs can create an engine miss, rough idle and even starting problems. In addition, inaccurate fuel mixture increases engine deposits which can cause the “Service Engine Soon” light to illuminate.


We hope this information was informative to you so that the next time your trusted Wiygul Automotive Clinic technician recommends you replace your engine air filter, you will know the reason and benefits.

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