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Your engine's air cleaner is its first line of defense against harmful particulate matter contained in the atmosphere. It should be replaced according to the manufacturer's suggested interval or whenever it becomes dirty.

How Difficult is Installation of Air Cleaners


What are Air Cleaners?

Air cleaners are designed to filter dust, dirt, sand, and even water out of the outside atmosphere before these contaminants have a chance to reach your engine. Although it's fine to run an engine without an air cleaner for a few minutes, for testing purposes, driving the vehicle without an air cleaner may cause additional, unwanted wear to the engine's internal parts.

How do Air Cleaners Work?

Air cleaners use a variety of filtering materials to prevent dust and dirt from entering your engines. This material is often made out of foam, paper, and steel or aluminum mesh.

The foam or paper is then enclosed in a housing designed to fit over your air intake tube or inside of your factory air box. Because air cleaners are replaced rather frequently, this job is something the average home mechanic can accomplish easily with minimal tools.

How are Air Cleaners Made?

Air cleaners are not easy to replicate at home. Air cleaners are made in factories, using heavy manufacturing equipment designed to automate the process.

The first step is to cut the filtering element to shape. The filtering material is then sealed inside of a plastic or rubber housing or frame. If you need a new air cleaner, you’ll find factory and aftermarket replacements, along with aftermarket air intake kits, at Pep Boys online and in local stores.

Why do Air Cleaners Fail?

  • Heat, moisture, and particulate matter in the air eventually cause air cleaners to fail.
  • The build up of particulate matter on your air cleaner may cause your vehicle to throw a check engine light.

What are the Symptoms of Air Cleaner Failure?

  • Check engine light comes on and stays on.
  • Engine may lack power as airflow to the engine is reduced by the build up of particulate matter.
  • Upon visual inspection, the air cleaner appears to be dirty. Note that most factory air filters cannot be cleaned and reused. Attempting to clean them may result in damage, rendering the air cleaner ineffective.

What are the Consequences of Air Cleaner Failure?

  • Your engine may run slightly rich as a dirty air filter reduces airflow into the engine.
  • As particulate matter enters your engine, excessive carbon deposits may form on pistons and valves.
  • Fuel economy could be effected, increasing the operating costs of the vehicle.

If you have questions or concerns about air cleaners or any of your vehicle's components, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.