A Guide to Air Filters

Air filters are an important part of vehicle maintenance. What many people don’t realize is you actually have two filters; one for your engine, and a cabin filter to filter the air coming into your car. Both of them function the same way, but have entirely different purposes. They are often neglected, particularly the cabin filter, and yours may need to be changed right now. This guide, provided by American Auto Clinic in Albuquerque, highlights the importance of filters, symptoms of an overused one, and how to maintain them.

Engine Air Filter

This filter does exactly what its name suggests; it filters air going into the engine. Therefore, a clogged filter is also a choke point for your engine. Dirty filters impede the flow of air, which is one of the fundamental aspects of how well your engine runs. Slight reduction in airflow will make your car run inefficiently, wasting gas and causing carbon build up which can damage or block up other systems. Severely dirty filters will cause more of the aforementioned, on top of hard starting, poor acceleration, stuttering or hesitation, your engine dying randomly, or a slew of other potential issues. It also forces your engine to work harder, and can be harmful to expensive sensors like your Mass Air Flow sensor. Every vehicle has a different schedule for how often the air filter needs to be changed, just refer to your owner’s manual. Keep in mind the environment you drive in, as that also affects how frequently your filter needs maintenance; dirt roads or high pollen areas will soil an air filter much more rapidly, for example. If you think your filter needs to be changed, know it needs to be changed, or don’t remember the last time it was replaced, it’s a good idea to ask one of our technicians to check it out next time you come by for an oil change or other maintenance.

Cabin Air Filter

The cabin air filter cleans the air entering your car, typically when the air conditioner is on. Your owner’s manual details how often you should have it changed, but it never hurts to take a look at it. Typically it is located behind the glove box and accessed from inside the car. One major sign of a clogged cabin air filter is an AC that doesn’t blow as cold as it used to. Often, people think they are experiencing a major problem with their AC, and forget completely about the cabin filter. Since it’s not typically inspected during routine maintenance, like an engine air filter is, it tends to get overlooked altogether. If your AC isn’t blowing as cold as it should, you definitely want to have this filter examined before taking any further action. If you have no idea when it was replaced last, you may want to have it changed as well...it’s possible your AC could be working much better.

While there are reusable air filters on the market, typically a filter is simply replaced with a new one once they become dirty. It’s a quick and inexpensive process on almost all vehicles. Next time you come in for a repair or scheduled maintenance, ask us to check your air filters. Our technicians will know right away if it’s time for a replacement. If you are having AC or engine problems similar to those described above, or any other issues you would like to have looked at, contact us at American Auto Clinic or drop by anytime.


Thank you for visiting American Auto Clinic in Albuquerque, NM. Count on our automotive repair technicians to keep your car, truck, suv, or van on the roads longer and safer.

Schedule your appointment today by calling (505) 884-2303.

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American Auto Clinic

2825 Candelaria, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107

location small (505) 884-2303
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Weekdays:   7:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturdays: CLOSED

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