Just as humans need oxygen to breathe, a car needs oxygen for the combustion process. The air filter prevents any insects, dust, particles, sand, or debris from reaching the engine and ensures a good mixture of air and fuel to support performance.
Car air filters come in different shapes: panels, circular or cylindrical. They are made of a pleated material that filters the air and may be made of cotton, synthetic paper, or foam.
Modern cars will generally have two air filters: one for the cabin and one for the engine. The cabin air filter also needs to be changed periodically, but on a different schedule than the engine air filter. The purpose of the engine air filter is to prevent dust, dirt and other environmental contaminants from getting into the engine. Over time, the air filter becomes dirty and clogged, and will need to be replaced.
How often the engine air filter will need replacement varies. Maintenance schedules for various makes of vehicles differ on how often the air filter should be changed. On most Chevrolet engines, for example, the recommended change interval is every 45,000 miles, but Ford says it should be done every 30,000 miles on many of its engines. Hyundai also says every 30,000 miles but shortens it to 15,000 for “severe” driving conditions, which includes heavy traffic in hot weather and frequent driving on unpaved roads or dusty conditions. Those rules will apply to other makes as well. If you drive in those conditions, often the air filter will need to be replaced earlier.
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