Air Filter Maintenance

Ensuring that the air filter in your vehicle is working like it should be is a crucial step toward keeping your vehicle in peak operating condition for as long as possible. Neglecting the proper maintenance cycle of these filters can lead to costly repairs down the line. To avoid that scenario, it is a good idea to become acquainted with some basics of air filter maintenance and in addition, the potential issues you might find with your filter.

What Are the Signs of a Failing or Faulty Air Filter?

Air filters are another imperative part of your truck as they keep potentially harmful debris and contaminants out of the turbo charger, charge air system, cylinder head and internal engine components. An air filter that’s clogged or faulty can lead to unnecessary engine damage and as a result, significant repair costs. This is particularly true in turbocharged vehicles, as the turbocharger increases performance by forcing pressurized air into the engine. Another considerable problem that can arise from a poorly functioning air filter is damage to the piston rings, which can potentially lead to excessive oil consumption.

There are a few warning signs that your air filter is either faulty or is so dirty that it is no longer doing its job. These include:

Hard starting – if your air filter is clogged a diesel can be hard to start and crank for an excessive period of time which puts strain on the electrical system, especially the starter. If you are experiencing hard starting every time you start your engine, it may be time to check the air filter.

Issues with acceleration – If your vehicle is not accelerating as well as it should, it seems to be under-powered or you notice black smoke under load it could mean that the appropriate amount of air is not being received by the engine, again time to check your air filter.

The service engine light comes on – If this light comes on, check the air filter to see if it is the problem. On newer diesel trucks there is a sensor in the air intake system to monitor intake air flow. A restricted air filter can trigger the service engine light via this sensor.

Most Dodge trucks equipped with a Cummins diesel built in 1994 and later came with a filter minder in the air filter box. This is a quick visual aid to indicate the health of the air filter. If it’s in the green then no further service is required, if it’s showing yellow then further inspection is required as it is indicating that the air filter is straining to deliver the required air to the engine.

Black smoke emitting from the exhaust – A restricted air supply can lead to fuel not being burnt completely, which in turn leads to black smoke.

A decrease in fuel efficiency – If the air filter is too dirty and restrictive, the engine will compensate for the lack of oxygen by using more fuel in order to keep producing power.

Also, if you are running a truck that has been modified to fuel over stock parameters, then consider an aftermarket high flow air intake system. The stock paper element has its limitations on how much air it can flow, in higher horsepower applications this may not be enough. It may be time to upgrade to a high flow kit.

Given the risks that come with an air filter that is not functioning correctly, it only makes sense to keep up with regular maintenance. This is something you can do on your own if you are mechanically inclined. However, if you are not, it is something that the mechanics at XL Mechanical can easily manage as part of your regular maintenance. Stay on top of air filter maintenance in order to avoid costly problems later on down the road.