We frequently hear “Do I really need a new air filter?”
First off — We wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t needed. Second… well just read this explanation.
One of the very first things a Paramedic learns is ABC. Every single person a Paramedic helps is initially assessed by ABC – Airway, Breathing and Circulation. The very first thing a Paramedic checks is for an intact airway and breathing. Why? Oxygen is 100% required for living. It does not matter if the blood is circulating. If it is not being infused with O2 it will not circulate for long. The same thing is true of your vehicle. It must have air. In fact, it would probably surprise you to know just how much air your car or truck needs.
The standard air to fuel ratio is about 15 pounds of air to one pound of fuel. If you convert that to gallons it means that for every gallon of fuel your car consumes it also consumes about 10,000 gallons of air. 10,000 gallons may be a little hard to picture so think of it like this – 10,000 gallons of air would almost completely fill a swimming pool 12’X24’ and 5 feet deep.
Now imagine that with every gallon of fuel, a swimming pool worth of dirty air is also entering your vehicle! The air flowing into your car’s engine has all kinds of stuff in it besides the air needed for it to run. The filter is necessary for trapping contaminates like silicates, dirt, leaves, tiny bits of rubber, straw, various insects and whatever just fell out of that trailer overflowing with trash.
Air filters do a great job of protecting vital operating parts. That is to say, they do a great job trapping all that damaging contamination until they are clogged with so much junk they begin to choke air flow. When an engine fails to get the air it needs it reacts the same way the human body does. It loses performance. MPG drops and gas useage increases – and this means more money spent at the pump. Parts, including electronics, sustain damage. Failure to replace dirty, clogged air filters can even cause the engine not to run at all. At best, a dirty filter will only cause you to use more gas and spend more money. At worst, dirty filters can lead to expensive repairs.
Do you really need to change the air filter? YES!