A vehicle has two kinds of air filters. One is for the engine and the other is for the cabin. Both capture airborne contaminants. If vehicles didn't have them, those pollutants would get into things like engine parts, the heater, and the air conditioner.
Unfortunately, sooner or later, whatever collects in either of them can restrict airflow -- that is, if the filters don't otherwise degrade from age. When either occurs, engine and car AC system problems follow.
So, what's the best way to tell if the air filters in your vehicle need replacing? Look for the signs. They include:
- Your Check Engine light turning on
- A dirty or blocked filter
- Excessive filter fiber wear
- An unclean smell in your cabin
- Atypical engine noises
- A misfiring engine
- Engine power loss
- Weaker-than-normal throttle response and acceleration
- A fuel economy drop
- An emissions increase
If you see any of these symptoms, they probably need changing. Otherwise, they'll need it regularly, every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or so, or every 30,000 miles at most. There are clear benefits to replacing the air filters in your car sooner, namely, fuel efficiency and emissions management and helping your engine last longer. Review your owner's manual for more info.
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