The engine lungs you often ignore
| MOTORING GURU | Unless it is an Electronic Vehicle, your vehicle uses what is called a combustion engines; meaning it is propelled by the mixing of air (oxygen) and fuel in a combustion chamber to create heat energy. An average car engine needs more than 10,000 litres of oxygen to burn every litre of fuel. Therefore, apart from fuel, your vehicle needs air to function.
You get the fuel from the station vehicle but the engine sucks air from outside using its cold air-intake tubes. Unfortunately, possibly because it is free of charge, their air contains tiny particles that can damage your engine. So your engine needs an air filter. The cold air-intake tubes direct the air to the engine air filter which blocks the particles of dust and other debris from entering the engine and damaging it. If a particle as small as a grain of salt gets through, it can damage to internal engine parts, such as cylinders and pistons, which can be very expensive to repair. That means the air filter is a very important gadget in your engine.
Unfortunately, like most vehicle owners, you possibly do not treat the air filter with the respect it deserves. You need to. Check it regularly and replaced it when due, especially in dusty driving conditions you experience daily.
Replacing a clogged air filter can increase fuel efficiency and improve acceleration. This is mainly because your car needs to breathe in clear air, just like you. In fact, your car is similar to your body and the air filter is similar to your lungs. A clean air filter increases the amount of air flowing into your car’s engine, making it work better on less fuel.
A dirty or damaged air filter reduces the air flow to the engine. This changes its air-fuel balance. This leads to polluted spark plugs and engine missing or rough idling. The increased engine depositions can cause the ‘Check Engine’ light to turn on. Polluted spark plugs or other air intake issues can cause your car engine to start making strange noises. Where it has been smooth and even in purring, it starts to rattle when idling, vibrating, or hiccupping. You vehicle will become weak and sluggish, however much you press the accelerator. You could notice black smoke or even flames coming from the exhaust pipe and you could start smelling fuel all over.
Manufacturers recommend replacing air filters at least every 19,000 to 24,000 km. That is possibly once every year for non-heavy drivers. Dusty driving conditions mean more regular replacement. Fortunately, air filters are inexpensive and replacing is easy and quick. Just ensure that you get the right one for your vehicle because there are many types on the market.
I have seen some air filters cleaned at the service bay. Normally this involves blowing jets of air on them to remove dust and debris. That is alright as longs as the air cleaner is not badly damaged or overdue for replacement. Remember, air filters are made out of a variety of materials, including paper, foam, and cotton. So, some are cleanable while others are not. To make the decision whether to replace or clean, remember the air cleaner guards your engine. A wrong decision here might cost you more later on.