Why you should change car filters on schedule

Your oil filter should be replaced every 5,000km with a recommended brand. PHOTO BY MARK KAWALYA

What you need to know:

Car filters play a crucial role in the operation of your vehicle and they need regular replacement. We take a look at some of the filters that need your attention.

It is easy to ignore your car filters. For one, most of them are made from simple materials such as synthetic paper and they normally do not cost much. It is common to think that other parts such as shock absorbers and brake pads rank higher in the hierarchy of importance of car parts.
Take Wilson, a man I know. He once told me how he drove a 2000 Toyota Fielder without changing his air cleaner for five years. Aside from increased fuel consumption, he had to replace his air mass sensor three times, not knowing that a dirty air cleaner is one of the things that ruins air mass sensors.

Oil filter
This filter needs the most attention as Deo Lutwama, a mechanic, points out. He adds that clean oil is a requirement for your car engine and the oil filter ensures this.
“I have seen many drivers who service a car’s engine but refuse to change the filter.” He points out that although the driver saves about Shs15,000 for the filter, the service is a wasted effort as the new oil is quickly contaminated by the dirty filter.

An oil filter removes metal particles, oxidized oil and dirt that are produced in oil as a result of engine function. While these particles are generated in the oil, they are detrimental to your car engine, the reason a filter is necessary. Your oil filter is good for about 5,000 kilometres and should be changed thereafter when engine oil is being replaced.

Air filter
A car engine needs air for the combustion process to take place. Air is mixed with fuel and ignited which forces piston movement that creates the driving force of the engine. This air needs to be clean so as not to contaminate the innards of the engine.

Lutwama says as a car moves, it interacts with dust, insects, sand and other particles that are carried by air entering the engine. An air filter traps these materials and prevents them from finding their way into the engine. Changing your filter enables your car to maintain its performance.
When the air entering the engine is clean, it is suited for the combustion process and boosts engine performance. Clean air in the engine also helps maintain good fuel economy as the engine works as it was intended to. You should replace your air filter every 15,000km or earlier depending on driving conditions.

Fuel filter
Fuel has impurities that are introduced into it along the chain of distribution and storage before it is introduced into your car’s fuel tank. Some of these impurities include dust, rust and grit and in large amounts, they interfere with the running of your engine. The fuel filter cleans the fuel and removes these impurities preventing them from entering your fuel injectors.
When your fuel injectors get blocked, they cease releasing fuel as a fine spray and instead release it as weak drips. Over time, the fuel filter gets clogged and is not able to function as intended requiring replacing.

According to Lutwama, one of the signs of a clogged fuel filter is decreased power when going uphill or failure to go over hills completely. Another sign is rough starts, especially in the morning and shaky idling. He adds that you may also experience hesitation to pick up speed when you step on the accelerator. Fuel filters are inexpensive with many of them costing below Shs50,000.
Replacing your fuel filter is important to maintain engine performance as it maintains a recommended amount of fuel flow to the engine. A clogged filter also forces the fuel pump to work harder, which can ultimately lead to its failure. A fuel pump for European cars goes for about Shs500,000 for the cheaper ones although they cost about Shs100,000 for Japanese cars. Your fuel filter is good for about 30,000km and thereafter is due for replacement.

Transmission filter
The gearbox alongside the engine make up the two major components of a car. The transmission works under considerable stress since it has several intricately woven moving parts. Additionally, internal gear wear produces metal shavings that get introduced into the transmission fluid that lubricates the gearbox.
Additionally, dust can get into the transmission from the filler tube, which is found in the engine bay. This is especially if the filler tube cap is missing and the car is driven without it. These particles can interfere with the smooth shifting of gears if they accumulate within the gear system.
Lutwama says a transmission filter is designed to trap these particles and prevent them from freely flowing along with the lubricant. It is advisable to replace your transmission filter each time you are changing your gearbox oil, which is recommended at about 50,000Km. Lutwama adds that the oil pan gasket should also be replaced at this time.

Cabin filter
This filter is responsible for cleaning the air that enters your cabin. You can find it behind the glove box, under the dashboard or even in the engine bay area. It filters dust particles, pollen, rodent droppings and anything else that could be swirling around in the air.
Having this filter in good condition is especially important if you suffer from allergies and breathing conditions. Additionally, the cabin filter could save you money in the form of air conditioning repair bills. This is because a dirty filter lets contaminated air into the cabin, making the air conditioner work harder, which can lead to the death of the AC motor.
You should replace your cabin filter once every year or after 15000km. However, you might need to replace it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions.


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