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chrome air cleaner on automobile V-8 engine Both cars and people benefit from breathing clean air, and different types of air cleaners, or air filters, are used to clean and filter the air that is used by automobile engines and people's lungs.  In the case of the automobile, the air cleaner actually contains an engine air filter that removes dust and grit particles from air that enters the internal combustion engine.  A car's cabin air filter filters the air for the driver and passengers, reducing allergens and dust in the cabin.

Prior to the 1950s, many automobile engines used oil-bath air intake filters, but today, most automotive air cleaners use disposable, pleated paper filters.  These are relatively inexpensive, but they sacrifice good air flow for good filtration.  It is important to replace these disposable air filters about every 12,000 miles, or more frequently if you drive in very dusty conditions.  Regular air filter replacement can help protect your car's engine, improve gas mileage, and avoid excessive cylinder wear.

Cylindrical air filters were generally used on older cars with carburetor based air intake systems, while flat, rectangular air filters are often used on cars with fuel injection systems.  Sometimes, for improved power and efficiency, conical filters and cold air intakes are used to improve the flow of air into the throttle body.

replacing an air cleaner filter An engine air cleaner typically sits on top of the engine's carburetor, or near the fuel injection system above the engine.  In the latter case, a large hose connects the air cleaner to the air intake duct.  If the air cleaner's filter becomes clogged with dirt, exhaust emissions will increase and the engine will run less efficiently.  Fortunately, it is usually a fairly simple task to replace the filter.  You will need a new air filter designed for your vehicle make and model, a clean cloth, and a basic screwdriver or wrench.  Simply undo the clips, screws, or bolts that hold the air filter cover in place, and remove the filter cover.  If the filter cover is connected to a large hose, gently move the filter cover and hose aside.  Notice how the old air filter fits into the air cleaner housing, as well as its orientation, then remove the old filter.  Use the clean cloth to carefully remove any dirt from inside the air cleaner housing, ensuring that no dirt enters the air intake.  Fit the new air filter into the housing, oriented the same way as the old filter, and reinstall the cover securely, using the clips, screws, or bolts that you removed earlier.  Do not run your automobile engine without an air filter installed!

automotive air cleaner filter This website features links to selected automotive air cleaner manufacturers and disposable air filter suppliers.  Browse these websites to find photos and specifications of engine air cleaners, air filters, and air intake units for most automobile makes and models.

Automotive Air Filters

  • Donaldson
    This manufacturer of air and liquid filtration systems and replacement parts offers a broad range of vehicle engine air filtration products.
  • Fram
    This company invented innovative dry-type air filters in 1951 and is a leading supplier of air filters for many vehicle types and models.
  • K&N Engineering
    This California company offers a broad selection of high performance air filters, oil filters and intake kits.
  • Camfil
    This Swedish firm manufactures an extensive line of industrial and OEM air filtration products, including air cleaners for diesel engines.
Modern Automotive Air Intake System and Air Filter
automotive air intake system and air filter

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