The 4 Different Types of Car Filters and Their Importance


Whether you are driving your car through the quiet countryside or challenging it against the bustle of Albany, NY, car filters are important to your car and crucial components that shouldn’t be neglected. Driving kicks up irritating and potentially dangerous airborne particles. These can harm the occupants of the vehicle and also the engine itself. As far as liquids go, there are the impurities in the oil that can (over time) cause harm to the engine’s system, and the organic materials in fuel can also be harmful. The task of keeping everything running clean is the job of these four filters: engine air filter, cabin air filter, oil filter, and fuel filter. Together, these work to protect important parts of the vehicle, and you, from harm. Because of this, forgetting to change them out or neglecting them can cause serious damage.

While all of these filters are pretty self-explanatory, it’s still important to have a good grasp of how they work and what they do, starting with the air filter.


Air Filter


The engine air filter is there to filter out any impurities in the air that is taken in by the engine for combustion. As a result, this helps the overall combustion process work properly, which ensures the engine is running right. Something that has direct influence on the combustion process like this also has direct influence on the fuel-efficiency of the vehicle. In order for the vehicle to meet the optimal fuel-efficiency, the vehicle needs to be combusting properly. Without the proper combustion, fuel mileage and power are both lost.

What is the engine being protected from, you ask? Any type of abrasive particle that might be in the air, such as dust and dirt. Therefore, if you drive in a heavily polluted/dusty area, you will need to change and clean your filter often. Simply pull the filter out, located in a big black box near the engine, and use an air hose to lightly blow out any debris. This is only a temporary fix, and it’s important to pay attention to when it’s time for the filter to actually be changed.

There is no set time to change out the air filter. But ideally, you’ll want to change it out once a year. While it does depend heavily on how clean an environment is, changing the filter out yearly is good if there is low pollution or insignificant dust levels in your area. If you drive in an area where these levels are higher, it’s important to change the air filter more frequently.

The engine air filter is a direct influence on your car’s overall performance — don’t neglect it.

Cabin Air Filter

The rest of the filters are oriented towards the health of the vehicle, but this one is strictly for your benefit. The same particles that are filtered out of the engine’s system are also filtered out from the cabin. This cabin air filter works similarly to the engine air filter, and catches any dust particles or pollen that are floating around in the air. In turn, this prevents those irritating, and potentially harmful, particles from entering the cabin. The impact of these airborne annoyances is significantly reduced inside the cab, especially for those with allergies, ultimately making the air inside of the car much cleaner.

Just like the engine air filter, you should change your cabin air filters out once a year. Again, an exception to that is if you frequently drive in a dusty or polluted area, in which case, you’ll want to change them more often.


Oil Filter


Moving onto the fluids section of the vehicle, the oil filter and fuel filter are more comprehensively designed, but essentially do the same thing. However, the oil filter is far more important to the life of your engine than the engine air filter, and has an even bigger impact on the performance of your vehicle.

Inside the engine, there are a lot of parts working together. As a result, the normal wear and tear involves little metal shavings that can build up and block the flow of components, and end up in the oil pan. When the oil is cycled back through, the metal shavings will come with it, and potentially harm the engine. Since the engine oil is there to keep the engine cool and working as effortlessly as possible, it’s important that these shavings are removed — which is the oil filter’s job.

Even though oil filters have come a long way since, it’s still important to get them changed on a regular basis. Unlike air filters, there is a general rule as to when it’s time to change an oil filter, which is every time you change your oil.


Fuel Filter


The next filter is the fuel filter, and is the only one on this list that has two different functions. Depending on the type of fuel used — petroleum or diesel — the fuel filter will act differently. For gasoline engines, the fuel filter is there to remove any impurities that came with the fuel you just put in your car. Since petroleum is an organic source, just like conventional engine oil, it will have some impurities in it. Don’t worry though, the impurities in both conventional oil and gasoline aren’t harmful to your engine.

For a diesel engine, the fuel filter is used in a much different way. While they both help the overall performance and life-span of the engine, the diesel engine is used to prevent corrosion on the parts inside the engine by removing any water that builds up. Since diesel is lighter than water, the filter is a bowl-like design that collects the water at the bottom. Then, a drain plug can be removed at the bottom to get rid of the water until just diesel is left. Allowing water into your engine or fuel system will cause serious problems, so it’s important to be aware of that if you drive a diesel vehicle.


The Point: Don’t Neglect Them

If there is one takeaway to get from this, it’s don’t neglect your filters. Even if you don’t know how to maintain or change out these four filters, you should at least take the time to make sure they are rolled into your regular car maintenance at your preferred garage or service center. If not, you are running a serious risk of damaging your vehicle in more ways than one. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual and schedule routine maintenance based on the automaker’s recommendations and you’ll ensure that your filters are in optimal condition for the best possible performance on the road and behind the wheel.