You should check your car's air filter at least once a year. Many people choose to change the filter right away, but some mechanics suggest that an air filter can last anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 miles. Depending on how much you drive, you may not reach those numbers in a year. Still, it's important to take the time to check your air filter annually.
If the filter looks dirty, it's time to replace it. Do not attempt to clean the filter and use it again; a new air filter is the best way to ensure that your vehicle performs optimally and stays in top condition. The frequency with which the engine air filter needs to be replaced varies by manufacturer and driving conditions. On most Chevrolet engines, for example, the recommended change interval is every 45,000 miles, while Ford suggests every 30,000 miles on many of its engines.
Hyundai also recommends changing the air filter every 30,000 miles, but shortens it to 15,000 for “severe driving conditions” such as heavy traffic in hot climates and frequent driving on unpaved roads or dusty conditions. The recommended interval for your vehicle will be detailed in the maintenance program section of the owner's manual. In today's fuel-injected engines, electronic controls decide the amount of fuel that should be introduced into the engine based on the amount of air that enters. If you have the ability to look at your filter, you can immediately see if it needs to be replaced or not.
Cabin air filters tend to get dirty faster than engine air filters and need to be replaced more often. Another common sign that an air filter needs to be changed is when you notice odors in your vehicle. If the owner's manual says it's time to replace the filter, it's best to take care of the replacement rather than waiting for other problems to arise. Vehicles also have a filter for the air that enters their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, but it has no relation to the engine air filter.
Because it connects directly to human occupants in the vehicle and keeps the air they breathe healthy, it is an essential part of any vehicle. We expect drivers in most cases to spend more than a year, at least, and probably more than two years between air filter changes depending on conditions and mileage. If you've recently noticed that you have to refill your gas tank more often than usual, it's probably time to check your air filter. Dust likely means that the filter is so clogged that those particles cross the filter barrier and reach directly into your face as you drive.
Don't forget about your car's cabin air filters either! Without this ingenious car part, the cabin of your car would be filled with every harmful smell and smoke you encounter on your trip. The cabin air filter should also be changed periodically, but at a different time than the engine air cleaner. Several aftermarket air filters promise to increase power and acceleration by creating better airflow. Fortunately, changing the filter is one of the simplest and most economical items of routine maintenance to deal with.