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Ik Soon's Super Basics #2: Air Filters. Your car needs clean air to operate too!


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Air Filters! Often forgotten or neglected, sometimes you'd receive advice of just "dusting" it with compressed air and it's as good as new. Or is it?


WHAT IS AN AIR FILTER?

An air filter is a filter made from paper, located in the air intake, designed to prevent small particles from entering the engine. As we covered in our previous post, engines can't operate efficiently without clean oil and it is the same for air as well. Clean air + Fuel = Power

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THE IMPORTANCE OF AN AIR FILTER.


Replacing an air filter is fairly quick and easy. That said, you could even get an air filter yourself and install it on your own today! Contact us and we'll gladly help you out!


Here are the 3 main reasons why the air filter is important for your engine:

  1. IMPROVES FUEL ECONOMY. A clean air filter will improve your car's fuel economy and acceleration, depending on the make and model of your car. When the air is clean, that makes for a cleaner combustion and the engine will be able to run well. When the engine runs well, this brings us to the next reason, which is:

  2. KINDER TO THE ENVIRONMENT. A clogged/dirty air filter will normally mean that the air flow is restricted and this will cause the engine to compensate by using up more fuel which results in a "dirtier" burn and releases black smoke from the exhaust. When the filter is clean, with a balanced air-fuel mixture, your car is running as it should and our environment just gets a little better.

  3. PROLONG ENGINE LIFE. A clean air filter will mean that there are no dust particles entering into the combustion chamber causing damage to the spark plugs, cylinders and other internal parts. This would prevent you from being given a hefty repair bill down the road.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DONT CHANGE MY AIR FILTER?

Changing an air filter is fairly straight forward and simple. Plus, it is relatively cheap with many aftermarket options.


When the air filter is neglected, you would normally encounter these problems:

  • Bad fuel economy.

  • Various engine issues like choking, misfiring, etc.

  • Excessive smoke from exhaust.

  • Decrease in power!

  • Spending money on repairs that are preventable.


REPLACE OR CLEAN?

How often should we replace the air filter & instead of replacing it, could we clean them?

Generally, we would recommend replacing the air filter every 15,000 - 20,000km or depending on where you drive, the dustier the surroundings are, you might even be looking at replacements at every 5,000km.


There are also those that decide to save some money and opt to clean the air filter by dusting it like a carpet or using compressed air to blow out the dusts. While these methods are high effective in getting most of the dusts, you should know that there will still be smaller dusts particles stuck on the filter element and restricting air flow. While it may seem "clean", continuing to use such filters would further clog the air filter and thus reducing performance.


REPLACING THE AIR FILTER.

Here comes the fun part, replacing your air filter.

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We got the air filter.

Firstly, it is quite simple. You get the air filter that is suitable for your car. After that, you open the bonnet and locate the air box and this is where the air filter will be. Normally the air box will be secured with a few clips that you need to undo. For the car that we are working on, it is secured by a few screws which can also be easily removed.

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The new air filter right beside the air box.

Once you have open up the air box, simply remove the tired old filter and replace it with the new one. Right below, we could see the difference between a new filter and the old one.

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The old air filter after 20,000km.

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A side by side comparison between the new (left) and old (right).

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A side by side comparison between the new (left) and old (right).

From the comparison above, we could see that the difference between the new and old one is night and day! The filter element on the old one is black and clogged from daily driving and its foam seal (the orange bit) is worn and is not offering a good seal anymore. If we were to clean this filter and reuse it, we would only cause further problems for ourselves down the line and replacing it is simply the way to go.


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The new filter simply fits into the air box.

Once the new filter is installed, simply close it up and redo the clips or screws and you are good to go! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.


USED AIR FILTER. HOW DIRTY IS IT AFTER 20,000KM?

I bet that everyone would be curious what is trapped inside the filter after being daily driven and after 20,000km. Here are our findings:

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One of the insect carcass found in between the pleats.

From the photo above, you could see that the filter element has turned a dark colour.

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Dust that fell out from the filter.

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Dusts and sand that was caught by the filter. Protecting the engine from unnecessary damage.

The air filter has certainly done its job and managed to filter out all the dust and debris from the roads. This car drove past construction sites on a daily basis and to know that all that dust is caught by the filter is such a relief. We found dusts, sand, dry leaves and insect carcasses.


HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD AIR FILTER?

Aside from Genuine OEM air filters, there are many aftermarket choices to choose from. Most importantly, when you get the air filter, you should make sure that the filter has no visible tears on the filter surface and that the seams at the sides are all in good condition and that it'll fit right in your car perfectly.

Side seams are good the dimensions are correct and fits perfectly

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The filter element has no visible tears.

An air filter is essential to the engine's health and you should always check on the condition of the air filter and replace them when necessary. Cars need clean air too!


We hope that this article has helped you in understanding air filters. We'd appreciate any feedback regarding this article as we are always looking to improve. Feel free to contact us anytime!


TL;DR

Air filter important. Change it at service interval to prevent problems.

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