Vehicle engines include complex parts that work in concert to ensure that the car functions properly. However, when servicing their cars and trucks, vehicle owners may look to many engine parts yet overlook a relatively mundane, albeit important, component: the air filter.

All cars come equipped with air filters, which are essential to optimum engine operation. The engine air filter is the first line of defence against outside air brought into the car engine to be burned along with fuel to produce combustion. The filter will capture particulate matter that would normally enter a vehicle’s engine and leave sediment. Dirty air can reduce engine efficiency and cause damage over time. Dirty air can compromise the air/fuel mixture that is involved in combustion. Any debris that enters portals in fuel injection systems can compromise that system. In addition, debris can cause fuel to burn less efficiently, resulting in poor fuel economy.

There is no simple answer as to how often an engine air filter should be changed – it largely depends on miles driven and the environment in which the vehicle is used. Those who reside in rural or dusty areas will need to replace air filters more frequently. Drivers also can install air filters more suited to dusty areas.

An engine filter is not the only filter in a vehicle. There also is a cabin air filter. The cabin air filter does not affect engine performance, but it does help to provide clean air inside the vehicle. The cabin air filter helps to keep dirt, pollen, bacteria, exhaust gases, and dust from entering the HVAC system. It can also be a barrier against bugs, leaves, and other particles clogging up the system. The cabin filter also helps to keep the air fresh and odour-free. A clogged filter can result in diminished heating and air conditioning performance, so it’s essential to change this filter as well.