It’s that time of year again, where customers begin to notice a slight (or in some cases more significant) decrease in their fuel economy. In many of these situations it boils down to using their climate control, particularly heat during the winter. However, there also is one specific culprit often overlooked – filters.
You might think for a moment about the filters you replace in your furnace at home, provided yours is a model that requires attention. The comfort you feel is made possible because the “elements” and debris are FILTERED out of the air. The filter systems on vehicles are no different. It’s simple logic, really. Imagine any opening where there’s supposed to be a steady flow. Now, picture impeding that progress with any number of obstacles. OK, point made.
Filters don’t tend to be an expensive item to maintain. In fact, they’re quite the contrary and often one of the cheapest parts to monitor. The payoff can definitely outweigh the cost, let’s put it that way. To that end, let’s answer the next obvious question – why should you pay attention to filters?
Best reason here, at least as it pertains to fuel and air filters, is that it takes an exact mixture of air and fuel to properly operate an engine. If that ratio is skewed the vehicle may still run, but not optimally. Here’s where the fuel economy issue becomes noticeable. Makes perfect sense why a good majority of peoples’ attention is on fuel consumption, as we’ve started seeing some of the highest average gasoline costs in history. Given the pinch felt all around the nation, it’s requiring us to think outside the box and focus on the root cause(s) of poor (or less than usual) “miles to the gallon.”
Dirty filters also may cause other systems in your vehicle to not work as designed. Two of the usual suspects here are spark plugs and the O2 sensor, neither of which will be free of additional symptoms. Once again, best practice is keeping a close eye on all common wear/tear, so there aren’t related issues. Doing this will save a lot of money, not to mention add significant peace of mind.
Lastly, filters come in all shapes and sizes. These range from cylindrical, square, cone, and circular, among others. Import and domestic vehicles do not necessarily have the same location for filters, which is why it’s always wise to consult your owner’s manual. If you’re looking for a step up to a higher efficiency filter line, K&N makes some great quality products.
General rule of thumb is to replace your filters at least once annually. Should you have reason to believe you’re more susceptible to additional elements (construction, dirt roads, inclement weather conditions, etc) you should take notice more often. Again, the manufacturer of your vehicle will have the recommended time intervals for replacement laid out in your owner’s manual. (seeing a theme here?)
Sometimes it’s possible to make very inexpensive adjustments/improvements to your vehicle, to keep it in the best possible shape. Filters tend to fall in this category, which is why we recommend you periodically evaluate the condition of the ones in your vehicle. Of course, we’ll do this for you as a complimentary service during your next service visit as well.