You may have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser at AskPatty.com, Inc recommends you get a new engine air filter. You say yes, but because you didn't know what an air filter is or what it does, but you were too embarrassed to ask.
First of all, you did the right thing by getting a new one. And, you should never be too embarrassed to ask for more information from any of our AskPatty.com, Inc staff. It's your money and you have a right to understand what you're paying for.
Let's review what an air filter does:
Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside in Thousand Oaks right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in CA with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, it's the engine air filter's job to clean that air before it goes into your engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without an engine air filter, the inside of your engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.
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In fact, for every gallon of gas you burn, your engine needs 12,000 gallons of air. That little filter does a very big job. It's no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn't clean as well. It can't move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way - the engine can't get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and wasted gas.
That's why your manufacturer has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive where it's very dusty or where there's lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your service technician can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement, or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you'll need to replace it soon - like at your next oil change.
Because a severely dirty air filter hurts your fuel economy, many people find that a new air filter pays for itself in gas savings before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.
The better your car breathes, the better it runs - kind of like people. And don't worry - if you have a question or don't understand a recommendation just ask.