Although their importance in the operation of your vehicle may not be readily apparent, failure to replace the multiple filters in your vehicle at the proper intervals can affect performance, important components, and even your personal comfort while driving.
Vehicle filters perform the same functions as other types of filters. That is, they remove contaminants that may reduce performance, cause harm to internal components of the machinery, or affect people's health.
Read on to learn more about a few of the important filters in your vehicle, their functions, and the intervals suggested for their replacement.
Your vehicle has two types of air filters. The cabin air filter removes contaminants from the seating area of the vehicle. This includes ordinary road dust, salt from ice- and snow-melting applications on the road, and allergens during allergy season. Contaminants can also reduce efficiency in cabin heating and cooling.
The engine air filter cleans the air that your engine requires for proper combustion. A dirty engine air filter can reduce performance by interfering with combustion. It can also force your engine to burn more fuel to compensate for the loss of oxygen, thus reducing fuel efficiency.
Cabin air filters should be changed annually, while manufacturers recommend intervals of between 30,000 and 45,000 miles for engine air filters. However, both types of air filters may need to be changed more frequently, depending on driving conditions (for example, heavy use on gravel or heavily salted roads).
These filters remove contaminants from the oil that lubricates your engine's internal components. These materials can wear away the parts over time, requiring extensive repairs or even complete engine replacement.
Oil filters should be changed every time an oil change is performed in order to keep the dirty oil that’s inside the old filter from contaminating the new oil. Regular oil changes are recommended every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, while vehicles using synthetic oil only need an oil and filter change at 10,000 mile intervals.
Fuel filters remove contaminants from your fuel before they can clog your fuel lines, which carry the fuel to the fuel injection system. The tips of the individual injectors, which spray fuel into the combustion chamber, can also become clogged, reducing performance. If the contaminated fuel reaches the combustion chamber, it will burn with decreased efficiency.
Fuel filters should be replaced every two years or 24,000 miles, or earlier if specific problems indicate a clogged fuel filter may at fault.
Transmission filters remove contaminants and debris from your vehicle's transmission fluid before it does its task of lubricating the various components inside the transmission. The filter is located between the transmission pan, which holds the excess fluid that is not inside the transmission, and the pickup tube, which connects to the oil pump. The oil pump, in turn, regulates the pressure and flow of fluid to the transmission.
This allows a continuous filtering of the fluid as it flows through the filter and into the pan, to be recirculated through the pump and back into the transmission.
Transmission fluid is encased inside a closed system. There is no drain plug to remove and replace it, so the entire transmission pan must be removed to replace the filter and fluid. However, when dipstick readings indicate a low level, contaminants can still enter the fluid while transmission fluid is being added. Internal components can also rub together, causing metal flaking to occur.
Two years or 30,000 miles is the recommended interval for preventive transmission filter changes. Filter changes are usually done along with changing the fluid and the gasket and O-ring seals, as well as cleaning the transmission pan.
Just as you wouldn't hesitate to change the filters on your air conditioner, furnace, water purifier, or even the search engine on your computer as needed, regular filter changes can keep your vehicle running better and longer, and have you breathing easier with cleaner air and a fatter wallet.
For additional questions about the proper upkeep of your car, contact Milt’s Service Garage.