Help Your Engine Breathe Easier With an Air Filter Replacement

February 16th, 2024 by

A mechanic and customer are shown shaking hands.

In the world of preventative car maintenance, things like changing the oil, rotating the tires, and checking the brakes take center stage. While these are all important steps to ensure your car continues to live up to its potential, they’re not the only things you should focus on.

Think about the last time your mechanic asked if you wanted to change the air filter. Did you quickly shake your head and wonder what the big deal was? If the answer is yes, you’re not the only one. The truth is that getting a car air filter replacement in Cincinnati is good for a variety of reasons and can help your car’s performance more than you might think.

At McCluskey Chevrolet, we can help you get the most out of your car thanks to our factory-trained technicians and state-of-the-art service center. We’ll also take the time to answer any questions you have about your vehicle and its various parts, including why getting your air filter replaced should be on your preventative car maintenance list.

Keep reading to learn more about your car’s air filter, signs of a clogged filter, and just how important its consistent replacement is.

What Does the Air Filter Do?

You might not realize it, but your car’s air filter works hard. It’s not only an essential part of the engine on the days when air quality is in the red but also on the days when there are no alerts. However, as noted, most of us don’t give it another thought. If you do stop to think about it, one of the reasons you might not give it a second thought is its construction. After all, how can something made of paper, foam, or cloth truly be that pivotal in a machine with such intricate parts?

The truth is that the air filter’s main job is to make sure that only clean air gets into the engine. As your car runs, it pulls in air to mix with the fuel so that it can burn. If this air has pollution in it, it can cause a number of problems, such as weaker output, higher fuel costs, and faster wear and tear on engine parts. So yes—the paper filter is an essential means of keeping the more advanced parts running.

Why Is Regular Maintenance Important?

To break it down further, here are the areas in which your car’s air filter can either help or hinder your drive…

Engine Performance: If the air filter is dirty or clogged, it can stop air from getting to the engine, which lowers power output and speed. Changing the air filter on a regular basis makes sure that the engine always has clean air, which improves its performance.

Fuel Efficiency: A clean air filter lets the right amount of air and fuel mix, which makes burning more efficient. In turn, this makes your car use less gas, which saves you money at the pump and lowers your carbon footprint. Additionally, emission control works better when the air filter is clean. If the engine works well, it gives off fewer harmful fumes, which helps keep the environment clean and thus meets emission standards.

Engine Life Extension: A well-kept air filter helps your car’s engine last longer by keeping dirt and other things from getting into it. Less damage to the engine’s internal parts can make it last longer and work better.

Cost-Effective: Consistent air filter replacement is fairly inexpensive when you compare it to the costs of fixing engine damage caused by bad air filtration.

Also, while we’ve been talking about the air filter for your engine, most cars have two air filters: one for the engine and one for the cabin. When replacing one, it’s a good idea to replace the other; while one helps your engine breathe better, the other helps you breathe better. In this case, we’ll continue to talk strictly about the engine air filter.

A mechanic is shown holding a dirty air filter.

Signs of a Clogged Air Filter

Now that you know what your engine air filter does and why regular replacement is a good idea, let’s look at the signs of a clogged air filter…

Decreased Fuel Economy

A drop in fuel economy is one of the most obvious symptoms of a clogged air filter. A clogged filter forces the engine to work harder to pull in air. Your car uses more fuel as a result of this extra effort, which reduces its efficiency. Checking your air filter may be necessary if you find yourself stopping for fuel more often.

Poor Acceleration

A clogged filter might also affect your car’s acceleration, which is a big deal if you regularly travel the cut in the hill. For the engine to operate efficiently, the air-to-fuel ratio must be correct. A blocked air filter inhibits airflow, which makes the vehicle respond slowly to accelerator inputs. One telltale sign that your air filter requires service is if you experience reluctance or delay while you accelerate.

Strange Engine Sounds

Pay great attention to your engine. A blocked air filter may produce strange noises like popping, spitting, or choking. These noises suggest that the engine is not getting the necessary quantity of air to burn. It is possible to stop additional damage to engine parts by taking quick action on the air filter problem.

Black Exhaust Smoke

Rich air-fuel mixtures caused by clogged air filters can, in turn, cause black exhaust smoke. This mixture and the resulting black smoke happen when there is not enough air available for combustion, signaling incomplete fuel burning. You should schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you notice dark smoke billowing from your exhaust.

Check Engine Light

The dreaded ‘check engine’ light will illuminate when the onboard computer notices problems. You might be surprised to learn that a clogged air filter may be the root cause of this alert. If left unchecked, continued issues may occur, resulting in damage and more expensive fixes.

An orange check engine light is on before performing a car air filter replacement in Cincinnati.

How Often Should the Air Filter Be Replaced?

Each vehicle is different, but the typical time frame for getting an air filter replacement is every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. There are a few considerations that impact this range. For instance, you’ll need to consider the type of vehicle and the type of air filter in that vehicle. Also, where you travel can impact the health of your air filter. If you commonly drive on dirt or unpaved roads, you might need to replace the air filter more often.

Finally, the air quality around the car matters as well. Remember the alerts you see as you drive into or out of Cincinnati? You’ll notice these alerts more often, such as during the spring when the air is thick with pollen. It’s during these times that you might also need to keep a closer eye on air filter health.

Regarding your in-cabin air filter once again, the running thought is that it can be changed at the same time as the engine air filter, but you can also extend that as far as every 30,000 miles depending on the local air quality, the vehicle’s recommendations, and the type of filter installed.

The good news is that our team can help you take the guesswork out of air filter replacement by sending you notifications when it’s time to bring your car in for preventative maintenance needs.

Schedule an Appointment for Your Vehicle Today

In the big picture of car maintenance, the air filter is a simple but essential component that helps the engine run smoothly. Changing your air filter on a regular basis helps your engine save fuel, run better, and last longer. Our team at McCluskey Chevrolet can help you with an air filter replacement along with other preventative maintenance tasks your vehicle may need. Check out our services and schedule an appointment to ensure your car is working to its fullest potential.