Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Breathing Clean - When Do You Need To Replace That Air Filter?

Maintenance had a totally different meaning in the pre-computer auto repair days. Back then, we performed regular “tune ups” to keep cars of the day running their best. By one definition, the term “tune up” means “an adjustment, as of a motor, to improve working order or condition”. In other words, the stock systems (carburetion, ignition and even some engine mechanical) would be tweaked to return them to an original condition, with existing parts cleaned and adjusted and only replaced if worn outside of serviceable limits. Today, these systems have no capacity for adjustment and the “tune up” of the old days has been replaced by the need for routine maintenance – a process of inspection and replacement.

The process of keeping the engine running at peak performance has gotten simpler as a result. No ignition points to gap and time, no valves (for the majority of engines anyway) to adjust, no idle speed or choke rods to inspect and correct. But that doesn’t mean it’s gotten any less important. If anything, today’s engines are increasingly less tolerant of maintenance mistakes. Use of the wrong engine oil and other fluids is one example, improper servicing techniques leading to engine component damage is another, and we’ve reported on several others over the last few years.

Today’s topic of the Trainer ties to the service of another component that is often considered less important than it is – the air filter. This simple part is responsible for keeping dirt and other contaminants out of the engine’s internals while offering minimal restriction to the airflow the engine needs to breathe properly. How do you know when the filter is no longer able to do either job? And is servicing the air filter really a matter of yanking one out and putting one in?

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