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What’s the harm in putting off replacing my engine air filter?

That’s a fair question because after all, my car still starts and runs fine. However, trouble could very well be on the way.

The vehicle's engine uses a massive amount of air to operate and generate the power to propel the car forward.... like 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of fuel. The air flowing through the engine needs to be free of harmful particles that could damage the engine, or at the very least, cause delicate engine parts to wear out prematurely. Air is not just a source for reducing heat against the radiator, it literally passes through the engine and the car won’t start without it.

The air all around us contains dust, dirt, pollen, spores, etc. Certain areas of the country are more dusty or sandy than others. There are more pollutants in the metropolitan areas of where we drive. How we use our vehicles plays a role in the air our engines take in. The air filter is like our bodies' lungs…without good, clean air hitting our systems, our bodies will not feel very good.

The air flows past the mass air flow (MAF) sensor on its way to the engine. The MAF sensor tells the engine control computer how much air is coming so the computer can send the proper amount of fuel into the engine to maintain the correct air-to-fuel ratio.

When dirty air is flowing past the filter, detrimental dirt starts to build up on the delicate MAF sensor elements causing incorrect air flow readings. The computer then sends incorrect amounts of fuel to the engine. This can rob power from the engine. But the harm comes from unburned fuel passing out through the exhaust system and getting caught in the catalytic converter leading to very pricey repair.

So replace your engine air filter and keep your car running smoothly now and avoid premature repairs. Your NAPA AutoCare service professional can give you options on what type of filter is best for your driving area and habits. Like your lungs, your air filter is vital to the long term health of your vehicle.

Posted April 4th, 2014

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