Spring is the perfect time to reclaim your vehicle from the ravages of winter and to prepare for some carefree summer road trips. One of the first places to start is with your vehicle's filters. Winter typically brings lots of cold temperatures, rain, snow (in some areas) and strong winds. All are tough on air and oil filters. When moisture from condensation finds its way into your engine's air inlet system, the O.E. paper air filter can lose its shape and much of its filtering ability. Paper air filters restrict airflow to your engine, can quickly become clogged with dirt, and require frequent replacement. Worse yet, areas with blowing dust can cut an air filter's useful life in half.

Best and Last

So where do you start? If you haven't already switched, your first chore should be to replace your O.E. paper air filter with a cotton-gauze-type filter. This style does many things to enhance the performance and durability of your engine. A cotton-gauze air filter offers superior filtering capability, catching the smallest dirt particles that can literally wear out your engine. An added benefit is a low-restriction design that allows more air to flow into your engine for a power increase of up to 15%. Less restriction also can increase fuel mileage, something every driver can appreciate. Best of all, it's the last air filter you'll ever need because they're washable and reusable.

Once a year (more frequently if you live in a dusty area) you should clean your cotton-gauze air filter and re-oil it with one of the available filter service kits. It's an easy and effective way to restore the original performance advantages of your air filter. Check out the accompanying photos and captions to see how easy this 30-minute "recharging" operation is.

Spring is also a good time to change your oil and filter especially if your vehicle only sees short trips where the engine temperature doesn't get hot enough to vaporize the water and fuel dilution in your oil. Select a premium oil filter that has several superior features compared to traditional oil filters. Performance oil filters are designed for the rigors of racing and to protect extremely expensive race engines; however, they are quite affordable and will protect your engine in ways you never thought possible. Important features like an anti-drainback valve that prevents oil from draining back into the crankcase during engine shutdown eliminates "dry starts," that momentary period upon engine startup when there is no oil pressure and the majority of engine wear occurs. A solid metal top end-cap (traditional filters use paper) ensures that no unfiltered oil gets back into the system. Some filter elements are resin-coated to keep the surface from becoming coated with contaminants, filtering out particles as small as 10 microns. Externally, performance filter cases feature heavy-duty construction that resists punctures from rocks and road debris.

You probably never gave something as simple as your vehicle's filters much thought. But as you can see, there are distinct advantages to installing premium filters. They could make the difference between an early trip to the scrap heap or many miles of trouble-free motoring.

Open the air cleaner housing (which typically snaps together) and loosen the clamp fastening the air filter to the air inlet duct.
Open the air cleaner housing (which typically snaps together) and loosen the clamp fastening the air filter to the air inlet duct.

This filter has seen 20,000 miles of use in L.A., a fairly clean environment, but notice the dark buildup of grime on the element.
This filter has seen 20,000 miles of use in L.A., a fairly clean environment, but notice the dark buildup of grime on the element.

Spray the cotton-gauze filter element with the cleaning detergent. Clear the big pebbles and bugs from between the pleats with a flat-bladed screwdriver.
Spray the cotton-gauze filter element with the cleaning detergent. Clear the big pebbles and bugs from between the pleats with a flat-bladed screwdriver.

Let the air cleaner element soak in the cleaning solution for 15-20 minutes. Because you cannot scrub the element without destroying it, you just have to let the solution do the work.
Let the air cleaner element soak in the cleaning solution for 15-20 minutes. Because you cannot scrub the element without destroying it, you just have to let the solution do the work.

Rinse the cleaning solution and dirt away with a garden hose. DO NOT use any pressure, as it will damage the cotton-gauze element. Just rinse from inside the filter to the outside to keep from driving the dirt farther into the filter.
Rinse the cleaning solution and dirt away with a garden hose. DO NOT use any pressure, as it will damage the cotton-gauze element. Just rinse from inside the filter to the outside to keep from driving the dirt farther into the filter.

After allowing the filter to air dry (DO NOT BLOW-DRY WITH HIGH-PRESSURE AIR), flow a line of filter oil onto each pleat. Allow time for the oil to wick into the filter for complete coverage. If you spot any areas without oil, just add a few drops in that area.
After allowing the filter to air dry (DO NOT BLOW-DRY WITH HIGH-PRESSURE AIR), flow a line of filter oil onto each pleat. Allow time for the oil to wick into the filter for complete coverage. If you spot any areas without oil, just add a few drops in that area.

Most air cleaner housings collect a bunch of dirt that was repelled by the air filter. Just vacuum out the housing and you're ready to reinstall the newly serviced filter.
Most air cleaner housings collect a bunch of dirt that was repelled by the air filter. Just vacuum out the housing and you're ready to reinstall the newly serviced filter.

Reconnect the air filter element to the inlet tube and firmly tighten the clamp. Put the lid back on the air cleaner housing and write down the date and mileage when you did the service.
Reconnect the air filter element to the inlet tube and firmly tighten the clamp. Put the lid back on the air cleaner housing and write down the date and mileage when you did the service.

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