Air Filter: Your car's air filters are made out of a variety of materials, including paper, foam, and cotton. They work to filter debris like dust, pollen, smog, and other contaminants from getting into your car. The intake air filter, found inside the engine compartment, prevents debris from getting inside your engine and interfering with it's function. A cabin air filter is usually found behind the glove compartment, or tucked next to the pedals on the driver's side.
Problem Symptoms: You'll start to notice if your car's air filters are beginning to go bad. Common symptoms of a failing engine air filter include:
- Reduced fuel efficiency.
- Decreased acceleration.
- Dirty spark plugs.
- Rough idling, misfiring, or trouble starting the engine.
- Illuminated Check Engine Light.
- Unpleasant odors coming from the air vents.
- Excess noise coming from the cabin air fan.
- Reduced airflow coming from the air vents.
Oil Filter: The oil filter is usually made from cellulose, with microglass filters found in some high-end cars. Oil filters protect the engine from dirt, oxidized oil, or metallic particles created by moving components. These contaminants can get in the tiny nooks and crannies inside your engine, increasing wear and tear, reducing efficiency, and sapping performance. Oil filters are commonly found on the bottom or on the side of a car's engine.
Problem Symptoms: If your car's oil filter is starting to fail there will be some warning signs. These include:
- Unusual sounds coming from the engine.
- Dark, black, or gritty oil on the dipstick.
- Check Engine Light or Check Oil Light comes on.
Fuel Filter: Every drop of fuel that goes into your engine passes through the fuel filter. It cleans out any particles or impurities that could inhibit combustion or damage your engine's internal components. The location of the fuel filter depends on your particular vehicle, but generally they are located somewhere along the fuel supply lines or inside the fuel tank.
Problem Symptoms: Your engine doesn't like dirty fuel, so it will let you know if any is getting inside it. A clogged filter will also exhibit some troubling symptoms. Common signs include:
- Difficulty starting the engine.
- Stalling when driving.
- Slow, sluggish acceleration.
- Rough idling when the car is stopped.
Like brake pads and tires, the filters in your car are going to wear out eventually. The symptoms they produce will tip you off that something's amiss, but just because you're experiencing them doesn't mean you need to rush out and buy a new filter. It's possible that a thorough clean will get it closer to normal operating condition – so that you can save money for more fun times behind the wheel.