Integrity Auto Care

(503) 372-5224
118 SE Oak St, Hillsboro, OR 97123

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Blog/Car Doctor Victories


Let's Talk about Engine and Cabin Air Filters

By: Jessi Bench

Being the service writer here at Integrity Auto Care is a very important job; I am here to help you, as the customer, decide the best services for you and your vehicle. This means I need to know more about vehicles than the average bear and I take it very seriously. Now, I have always enjoyed working on my own vehicles; I knew the importance of maintaining my vehicles and knew how to do the work my self but never took the time to understand what these components do or why they were needed. Now I am on a mission to understand how these components work and why they are needed so I can better help you. As I learn I would like to pass this knowledge on to you my valued and loved customers (however; I prefer the term Friends instead of customer).

Ok friends are you ready to learn about your vehicle's air filters? There are two types of air filters in most vehicles. You have an engine air filter and a cabin air filter. I am going to talk about the engine air filter first then move on to the cabin air filter.

First, with the engine air filter let's learn about the function and why the engine needs this vital component. So, what is the function of the engine air filter? Most of today's engines are called a four stroke engine (you can think of a stroke as cycles to make it a little easier), each stroke has a specific function (I'm not gonna go into huge detail on this part) to run the engine; there are the intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust strokes. The stroke we are focusing on is the intake stroke; during this stroke the engine takes in air. The engine needs oxygen to perform the combustion or igniting of the gas; think of it as a small “fire” and like any flame in needs oxygen. As the engine “sucks” air in it passes through the air filter to ensure that the air the engine is taking in is clean and free of debris.

When an engine air filter becomes dirty many things can happen. First as the filter becomes dirty it takes more effort for the engine to breath, this will cause a reduction in power and increase gas consumption lowering your fuel mileage. With the gas prices as high as they are I'm sure you want to get the most out of the fuel you are buying. The second thing is when the filter has too much debris, particles may be sucked through or around the filter and directly into the engine. If this happens it can cause catastrophic failures!

The benefits of changing your air filter are: it increases your vehicles power, increases fuel efficiency, reduces emissions, and prolongs the life of your engine. It is recommended to replace the engine air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. So there you have it engine air filters are vital and need to be replaced to continue to get the most out of your vehicle!

Cabin air filters basically have the same function as an engine air filter only for the cabin of your vehicle. Just as the engine air filter provides clean air for the engine to breathe the cabin air filter provides clean air for you and your family to breathe while in the vehicle; this is especially important when allergy season comes around. The cabin air filter prevents mold, exhaust, dust, pollen and more from entering your heating/air conditioning system and traveling into the cab of your vehicle. It also prevents debris such as leaves or even bugs from entering and clogging up the system potentially restricting the air flow of your heat or air conditioning; if your HVAC system becomes clogged restricting the air flow you and your family may not be warm or cool enough making your travel uncomfortable. In the same fashion as the engine air filter it is suggested to replace your cabin air filter every 12,000 miles. So how do I know I need to change my cabin air filter? If you notice a reduction in the air flow, diminished heating or air conditioning performance, a musty odor in the cab, or even start hearing a whistling sound from your heating/ air conditioning; it's time to change it immediately!

Well, there you have it friends! Help your engine and you breathe better by changing your engine and cabin air filters regularly! I hope you learned a lot today; I know I did! If you believe your air filters may need to be replaced just give me a call!