What’s the harm in putting off replacing my engine air filter a little longer? It’s a question we hear often. According to our Dakota Ridge Auto experts in Littleton, this is a fair question because the harm takes a while to manifest.
What an Engine Air Filter Does
The air all around us contains dust, dirt, pollen, spores, etc. Some areas and times of the year have more contaminants in the air. The job of the air filter is to keep that stuff out of your engine.
Your engine uses a lot of air – around 12,000 times the volume of air as fuel – so the engine air filter has a big job to do. This air then flows by the mass air flow (MAF) sensor on its way to the engine. The MAF sensor tells the engine control computer how much air is coming so the computer can send the proper amount of fuel into the engine to maintain the correct air-to-fuel ratio.
What a Dirty Engine Air Filter Does
When the filter gets full and can’t hold any more dirt, all that air still has to get to the engine so dirt gets forced through the filter and heads on downstream where it builds up on delicate MAF sensor elements, causing incorrect air flow readings.
The computer then sends the wrong amount of fuel to the engine. This can rob power from the engine. But the harm comes from unburned fuel passing out through the exhaust system and getting caught in the catalytic converter, leading to damage.
In fact, a primary cause of catalytic converter failure is improper engine management, often triggered by a dirty MAF sensor which was contaminated because the engine air filter had not been replaced.
So, when it’s time to replace your engine filter, keep in mind the potential long-term effects of putting it off and talk to a knowledgeable Dakota Ridge Auto service advisor to schedule service at our Littleton shop.