Air filters are the first line of defense to keeping your engine free of dirt and debris. With our dusty Arizona climate, driving through monsoon storms or off road they can get packed full of dirt faster than you may think. The fix is easy, throw away the old filter and install a new one, or clean it if you are running a cleanable filter. It seems easy but there’s more to air filters than that. Here are some things to consider.
Like most things in life not all air filters are created equal and cheaper isn’t always better. If you replace it yourself you can pick one up from the dealership, choose from one of many aftermarket brands at your auto parts store, or at here at Strictly Diesel. The lower-priced filters tend to have several design flaws so be cautious when using them. There are three common issues we see weekly if not daily. The first is the filter material used as they may not filter as well as the OEM filter letting very find debris pass through it. The second is size and shape, a lot of the aftermarket filters don’t properly fit in the box which allows dirt/debris to bypass the filter and enter the engine. The third issue is not keeping their shape and deforming which is more common to see with a flat or rectangular shaped filter. A quality filter will be reinforced to prevent it from folding is due to restriction or water damage. They also use strips of glue across the filter pleats to keep them separated. Once the filter pleats fold over it quickly loses surface area for air to flow through creating even more restriction.
There are several reasons why air filter maintenance and choosing the right filter so important. Dirty or restricted filters can quickly cause a loss of power, decreased fuel economy, higher exhaust temperatures when towing and increased smoke output. Severely restricted filters can cause the rotating section of the turbo to be pulled towards one side of the turbo which can lead to early bearing failure. As dust goes through your air filter a few things can happen. Most trucks have a mass airflow sensor which is located after the air filter, as dust collects on the sensor it affects its ability to properly read airflow and can cause a few different drivability symptoms. After it passes the MAF sensor it will contact the compressor wheel of the turbo spinning extremely fast causing a sandblasting effect. It will wear away the outer edges of the fins over time which translates into lower than normal boost levels (lower power, higher EGT’s, decreased efficiency). Now that the dust has made its way through the turbo it will enter the cylinders of your engine. All those dust particles will slowly wear away at piston rings and cylinder walls causing a compression loss. Once this happens there’s no bringing it back and you could be in store for a costly engine repair. It sounds extreme but we see this more often than you would believe.
Now that you may be concerned about the air filter in your truck take a few minutes and look it over. Make sure the filter box properly seals, doesn’t have any broken latches/tabs or missing any hardware. Don’t rely on the spring-loaded filter minders as they can be very inaccurate. With the filter removed lightly tap it on the ground. Even if it doesn’t look dirty, you’ll be surprised how much dirt falls out. If you question the condition of the filter play it safe and install a new filter. It’s cheap insurance to protect expensive components.
Contact Strictly Diesel today to allow us to help you with your air filter and air intake system.