You likely already know that your car is equipped with several types of filters. Each of them fulfills a different task, but the purpose is the same: keep foreign objects like dust, dirt, and debris from entering the places they don’t belong and hindering your car’s performance.
Understanding the purposes and importance of each of these filters will give you a better idea of how to maintain them properly and when it’s time to replace them. Each automobile has either 4 or 5 filters, including:
1. Engine Oil Filter
One of the most important filters, its job is to keep all impurities and pollutants out of your engine oil. Engine oil keeps the metal pieces constantly rotating against each other lubricated, but it starts breaking down over time. This can cause small metal particles to break away. The job of the engine oil filter is to prevent these particles from re-entering the engine.
There are several types of engine oil filters. Inexpensive filters designed for vehicles that require frequent oil changes are thinner and catch fewer impurities. They wouldn’t fit most modern-day cars running on fully synthetic engine oil.
2. Automatic Transmission Oil Filter
Does basically the same job as an engine oil filter but within the transmission system. They can be either replaceable or permanent (these have screens that need to be cleaned).
Manufacturers typically provide instructions on how often the transmission oil filter needs to be replaced (or cleaned if it’s permanent). Still, poor driving conditions can accelerate physical wear and require more frequent treatment.
3. Engine Air Filter
The purpose of an engine air filter is to keep pollutants out. The engine air filter brings fresh air via a tube and lets the filtered air into the engine via another tube. Filtered air is necessary for the fuel in the engine, with different vehicles requiring different amounts. Once the filter gets clogged, vehicle performance diminishes.
How fast the engine air filter wears out depends on various factors like your location, driving conditions, etc. It’s standard to have its state checked with every oil change.
4. Cabin Air Filter
The “youngest” car filter, the cabin air filter, became a standard feature only in the early 2000s. Its purpose is to keep the air passing through your vehicle’s HVAC system clean, filtering out dust, pollen, etc., that enter the car through air conditioning.
Cabin air filters are made with different materials, with activated carbon considered the safest, most reliable, and most long-lasting.
5. Fuel Filter
While it has the critical job of keeping the fuel tank clean, it’s the least common type of filter. You aren’t likely to find replaceable fuel filters in modern vehicles because the regulations for oil cleanliness are much tighter than they were a decade ago, which means the filter maintains functionality much longer than it used to.
In modern cars, fuel filters are placed in the fuel tanks and function as a part of the pump’s assembly. It can’t be replaced unless the pump itself is replaced. If you have an older car, contact your service provider to find out if your fuel filter is replaceable and what its average shelf life is supposed to be.
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