So what’s all this about filters? A new oil filter keeps contaminants out of your expensive engine. A new air filter can help improve your vehicle’s performance. And a new cabin air filter protects you and your passengers from mildew, allergens and more.
Let’s look at each type of filter and when it makes sense to change them.
Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the oil once a year or every 7,500 miles in passenger car and light truck gasoline engines. For diesel engines and turbocharged gasoline engines, the usual recommendation is every 3,000 miles or six months.
However, when you read the fine print, you’ll find those recommendations are for vehicles that are driven under ‘ideal’ circumstances. Unfortunately, what most of us think of as ‘normal’ driving is actually ‘severe service’ driving, which include frequent short trips, stop-and-go city traffic driving, driving in dusty conditions (gravel roads, etc.), and/or driving at sustained highway speeds during hot weather. For this type of driving, the recommendations change to every 3,000 miles or six months.
To reduce the costs of vehicle ownership and maintenance, many car makers say the oil filter only needs to be replaced at every other oil change. Most mechanics will tell you this is false economy.
Replacing the oil filter every time the oil is changed, therefore, is highly recommended.
It’s hard to give a specific time or mileage number because the life of the filter depends on how much stuff it eats. A filter that lasts 20,000 or even 30,000 miles on a vehicle that’s driven mostly on highways may last only a month or two in a rural setting where the vehicle is driven frequently on gravel roads.
Changing it annually or every 15,000 miles for preventative maintenance may be a good recommendation for the city driver, but not those out in the country.
The engine air filter isn’t the only filter you may need to consider. A cabin air filter keeps air inside the passenger compartment of your car from becoming stale and unhealthy. You might not even be aware that you have a cabin air filter. Many newer model cars have cabin filters tucked away inside the dash or elsewhere where it is not easily seen.
Although hidden, a cabin air filter removes contaminants such as dust, pollen, mold spores, and other small particles from the air that circulates through your cars heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and into the passenger cabin.
To keep air quality at its best, filters should be replaced generally once a year or every 15,000 miles – more frequently if you drive in dusty or industrial environments. Regularly changing cabin air filters also can maximize the life of your cars HVAC system by reducing debris and corrosion on the evaporator core.