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When Should You Change Your Car Filters? Your Ultimate Guide

When Should You Change Your Car Filters? Your Ultimate Guide

If you're looking for “when should you change your car filters?” Take a look at the following list:

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


  1. The cabin air filter should be changed once every 30,000 miles
  2. The engine air filter should be changed once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles
  3. The oil filter should be changed once every second oil change
  4. The fuel filter should be changed once every 20,000 to 30,000 miles

While it's important to maintain the major components in your vehicle, ignoring some of the minor components might lead to significant damages. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different minor components in the vehicle and understand when you should service them.

Your vehicle's filters are one of the most critical minor components that might be underestimated. The car has many filters, and every filter has a certain job. Therefore, it is important that you learn about the purpose of each filter and when you should replace them.

This article walks you through all your car's filters and provides you with a rough estimate about when you should change them. Finally, we will provide you with the main benefits you will get when changing these filters.

What is the purpose of a car filter?

As the name suggests, any filter in your vehicle is responsible for preventing any contaminants or debris from getting to a major component. The filters typically are not expensive, but they play a major role.

Over time of use, these filters get clogged, which means that you must replace them. Otherwise, the contaminants and debris got to the major components and caused severe damages that could cost you thousands of dollars.

What are the different car filters?

Your vehicle has multiple filters that protect different components. Let's take a closer look at the following list and understand the purpose of each filter:

  1. The cabin air filter

The cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning any air getting to the vehicle’s interior through the air conditioning. Thus, when sitting in your car, you don't have to worry about airborne particles and other dust that could impact your health. This filter is extremely critical for drivers who have respiratory or breathing problems.

Some advanced cabin air filters are equipped with carbon activated techniques which helps clean out any gases and other odors that might be uncomfortable for the driver.

Obviously, the more you drive in dusty waters, the faster the cabin air filter gets dirtier and the more frequent you must replace it. When you notice any symptom indicating that the air filter is due for replacement, it is important that you immediately take it out and install a new one for the following reasons:

Get fresh air

If the air filter is extremely dirty, it will cause weird odors and bring in undesirable particles that might impact your breathing. In addition, some dirty air filters might bring bacteria which could cause some health issues. All dust, bacteria, and other particles can be extremely significant for people who have certain allergies, which could cause them to sneeze and cough if not deal with major allergic reactions.

Enhanced visibility

If you are driving in weather where you are looking to defog the windows, having a dirty cabin air filter can be problematic. This is because any air used to defog the windows goes through the cabin air filter, picking up more contaminants and debris before it reaches the windows. Thus, it will not work efficiently.

Extend the lifetime of the AC system

When the AC system deals with a clogged cabin air filter, it gets stressed out, and it requires additional effort to pull the required amount of air. Therefore, the AC system might fail prematurely. Thus, if you would like to extend the lifetime of your AC system, it is recommended that you replaced the cabin air filter regularly.

Your cabin air filter should be changed once every 30,000 miles or whenever you notice any symptom indicating that you need to install a new one.

  1. The engine air filter

Another air filter in your vehicle plays a more critical role than the cabin air filter, which is the engine air filter. This filter is responsible for cleaning up any air getting to the engine used for the combustion process.

When the engine air filter gets clogged, the engine does not receive the right amount of air which means that the combustion process might be incomplete or disturbed. Therefore, ignoring the engine air filter replacement can be extremely costly and might result in significant damages that require installing a new engine in some scenarios.

There are many reasons for replacing the engineer filter, including:

Enhancing the engine performance

When the engine receives the designated amount of air to create the combustion process, it produces the right energy without being overstressed. Thus, by regularly replacing the engine air filter, you don't have to worry about reducing efficiency and performance.

Improve fuel economy

A dirty air filter forces your engine to consume more fuel than air because the engine cannot simply pull the right amount of air from the clogged air filter. Therefore, one of the best benefits you'll get from changing the air filter is enhancing the fuel economy, so you don't have to visit the gas stations frequently.

It eliminates any weird smokes

When the engine does not receive the designated amount of air, it burns more fuel than it should, which is referred to as engine running rich. When that happens, you'll notice some weird black smoke coming from the tailpipe, which should not be the common cause. When that happens, your vehicle might not pass the emission tests, and it can be obvious that your vehicle has problems that could harm the environment.

Your engine air filter should be changed once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or whenever you notice any symptom indicating that you need to install a new one.

  1. The oil filter

The oil filter cleans the engine oil from any particles that could contaminate the engine and cause problems. As oil runs around the engine, it collects many small metallic particles and other dirt, which can cause harm to the internal components of your engine. Thus, having an oil filter protects the engine and maintains its performance.

You must replace the air filter whenever needed for the following reasons:

Eliminate engine wear

When the oil filter is clogged, a lot of debris and other impurities run through the engine, which could cause premature damages. These damages impact your vehicle's fuel economy and also reduces performance.

Ruin the new oil

Depending on the type of oil and your vehicle type, you are expected to change the vehicle's oil once every certain interval. If you did not change the oil filter, there is a very high chance you will be soiling the new oil., to prevent wasting your time and effort adding new oil, you must protect this oil and change the oil filter as well.

Prevent engine overheating

Your engine needs a specific amount of oil to lubricate the internal components and prevent engine overheating. However, when the oil filter is clogged, a very small amount of oil can reach the engine, and this amount might not be sufficient to drop the engine temperature to the optimum levels. Thus, a clogged oil filter can easily lead to engine overheating that is extremely costly.

Your oil filter should be changed once every second oil change or whenever you notice any symptom indicating that you need to install a new one.

  1. The fuel filter

The fuel filter is responsible for eliminating any debris or other contaminants collected from the fuel tank from reaching the engine compartment. If any of these contaminants make their way to some minor components like the fuel injectors, it leads to major clogs and causes significant issues in the engine.

You must replace the fuel filter depending on the intervals specified in your vehicles owner’s manual for the following reasons:

Enhance the engine's performance

Like the air filter, having a clean fuel filter maintains a specific steady-state fuel supply to the engine. This way, the engine receives the right amount of air to fuel mixture to create the correct combustion process shared. Thus, you'll end up with the desired level of energy to move the vehicle.

However, when the fuel filter is clogged, your engine will require more energy to suck the desired amount of fuel, and therefore, there's a very high chance for the engine to get damaged prematurely. Therefore, to eliminate stressing the engine and achieve good engine performance, you must replace the fuel filter when needed.

Prevent engine damages

If the fuel filter is clogged, there's a very high chance that some debris or contaminants might make their way to the internal engine components. Thus, don't be surprised to deal with premature engine damage and some parts failure that require expensive repair.

Your fuel filter should be changed once every 20,000 to 30,000 miles or whenever you notice any symptom indicating that you need to install a new one.

How much does it cost to change your vehicle filters?

In general, changing your vehicle's filters is not a complicated job, and it does not require a very high cost. It is one of the cheapest car repairs that you might encounter. Every filter requires different costs, but they're not too much apart from each other cost-wise:

  • Cabin air filter replacement cost: $30 to $70
  • Engine air filter replacement cost: $20 to $85
  • Oil filter replacement cost: $35 to $75
  • Fuel filter replacement cost: $50 to $170

Keep in mind that replacement costs differ significantly depending on where you get the job done. For example, expect higher repair costs if the filters are replaced at a dealership versus a small independent shop.

Many drivers prefer to change their filters by themselves to eliminates labor costs which is a great idea. There are plenty of available tutorials and YouTube videos online to help you change the filters without issues. However, we highly recommend that you do not attempt to change any of the filters unless you have them; they require skills and are never too experience in your car, especially if it's expensive.

Add mistakes introduced by lack of experience could cost you thousands of dollars, especially if the mistakes caused issues in major components like the engine or the transmission.

Conclusion

Your vehicle's filters are vital components that many people might underestimate and overlook. This article walked you through the common type of car filters and gave you general information about what benefits you'll get from changing them.

Furthermore, it highlights the frequency of when you should change each filter. Keep in mind that you must keep an eye for any symptoms indicating that you need to change each filter because you might need to change it before the expected frequency in some scenarios.

If your vehicle suffers from major mechanical problems, maintaining good filters might not be the solution. Instead, you must evaluate your situation and compare repair costs to your vehicle's value. If you realize that your vehicle's value is close enough to repair costs, it might be worth selling this vehicle and using its money to buy a better car that doesn't have any problem.

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