Particles as small as a grain of salt can cause a lot of damage to internal engine parts, such as cylinders and pistons, if they pass through a damaged air filter. This is why it is so important to replace your air filter regularly. The frequency of replacement depends on the vehicle brand and the type of driving conditions. For instance, Chevrolet recommends changing the air filter every 45,000 miles, while Ford suggests doing it every 30,000 miles.
Hyundai shortens this interval to 15,000 miles for “severe driving conditions”, such as frequent driving on unpaved roads or dusty conditions. It is recommended to inspect the air filter at least once a year. If it is covered with dirt or debris, it is time to replace it. If there is only a little dirt on the surface or only in one area, you can try brushing it off and turning the filter 180 degrees to expose the cleaned area to the main airflow.
The cabin air filter is usually located under the dashboard and behind the glove compartment. Most average drivers should be able to go a year or two before needing a new air filter. Replacing the cabin air filter is easier and cheaper than changing the engine air filter. If you have noticed that you need to refill your gas tank more often than usual, it may be time to check your air filter.
A dirty engine air filter will usually look dirty with dirt, dust, or stains visible within the folds. If venting the folds of the air filter by hand causes dirt to fly away and leaves your hand dirty, then it must be replaced. A Department of Energy study found that modern vehicles are sophisticated enough to prevent a clogged air filter from affecting fuel economy. However, engines rely on clean, good airflow to produce power and rapid acceleration, so restricting the amount of air will definitely affect performance.
When you take your car for regular maintenance, the mechanic will most likely inspect the engine air filter for dirt. To locate the engine air cleaner housing, look for a large plastic housing, usually black, that sits above or to one side of the engine.