If you are bringing your car in for a routine auto service, such as an oil change or tune-up, the mechanic will look at the air filter. They may then recommend that you have this part replaced if it is needed. An air filter plays an important role in the well-being of your car, yet it is a part that you may not be familiar with. Here are a few frequently asked questions about this part -- and the answers.

What Role Does an Air Filter Play in a Car?

The air filter in your car helps to filter the air that is entering the engine. It prevents dust, dirt, contaminants, and other debris from entering your engine. If these contaminants enter your engine, your engine will have to work harder. This can impact your vehicle's fuel efficiency and decrease the lifespan of your engine.

Why Does an Air Filter Need to be Replaced?

The air filter in your car works very much like the air filters found in your HVAC system in your home. As air blows through the filters, dirt and dust gets trapped in the filter. Over time, the filter becomes full. If this occurs, air can't travel through the filter like it should. Some of the debris can blow into the engine or the engine may not get the airflow it needs.

How Frequently Does an Air Filter Need to be Replaced?

The air filter in a car generally needs to be replaced every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. There are many factors that play a role in how frequently your car's filter will need to be replaced, including the type of car you drive, the type of filter in the car, the road conditions you drive in, and the weather elements your car is exposed to. This is why the filter is checked during routine auto service to determine exactly when yours should be replaced. Also, if your car is not driven frequently, the filter should still be replaced every three years as it can become brittle and crack or break.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done to Extend the Life of an Air Filter?

If you drive on dirt roads, in dusty areas or in smog-filled cities, your filter will need to be replaced sooner than someone who drives in a spot with clean air. The cost for a professional like those at GSBP Automotive to replace and install a new air filter is typically only between $20 to $50. As such, it doesn't not make much sense to go out of your way or change your driving habits just to help extend the life of an filter a few thousand extra miles.

The air filter plays an important role in protecting your engine. Getting answers to the questions you have about this part will help you to understand more about it, why it needs to be replaced, and when it needs to be replaced.