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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
How to Get the Most Out of Your Air Filter
With maintenance costs and diesel fuel still near record highs, it can be tempting to let vehicles go a little longer between maintenance intervals. But when it comes to engine maintenance, most fleet managers don’t want to take any chances – and for good reason.
However, there is a more accurate way to know when an air filter needs to be replaced rather than simply following a predefined maintenance interval. In fact, knowing exactly when the air filter needs to be replaced not only protects the engine, but also saves time and money in reduced filter changes, maintenance and vehicle downtime.
How Important is Having a Clean Air Filter?
According to the Filter Manufacturers Council, the average internal combustion engine uses around 12,000 gallons of air in order to burn one gallon of gasoline. For the average heavy-duty truck, that’s 1.8 million gallons of air per tank.
Without a clean air filter, harmful airborne contaminants such as exhaust, dust and other particulates, can enter the engine. The result? Damage to critical internal components, poor performance and premature engine failure.
Can I Try Cleaning and Reusing an Air Filter Myself?
Some vehicle owners and maintenance supervisors, concerned with lowering their operating costs, clean and reuse their heavy-duty air filter elements. But there are several reasons why this is not a good idea:
It Voids the Warranty
Heavy-duty air filter element manufacturers do not recommend any type of cleaning process be used on their products. Furthermore, they no longer warranty their product once it has been cleaned.
It Captures Less Dust
Used heavy-duty air filter elements, even after the most thorough cleaning, will only retain 60-80 percent of their original life, and each subsequent cleaning yields progressively less dust capacity.
It Exposes Engines to Contaminants
Because of their shortened service life, the re-use of cleaned heavy-duty air filter elements, increase the likelihood of dust leaks, which can lead to damage. Each time the air intake system is serviced, it is exposed to the chance of introducing contamination.
The Best Course of Action? Using Air Filter Restriction Gauges
With modern engines able to adjust fuel delivery and usage relative to airflow rates, it is much harder to determine when an air filter needs to be replaced because there is no more engine sputtering to indicate a plugged filter. Using visual inspection to determine if a filter needs to be changed out is unreliable because even a filter that looks plugged can still have a lot of life left in it.
The best way to determine when an air filter needs to be changed is by using what’s called an air filter restriction gauge.
Air filter restriction gauges are designed to measure the airflow resistance in a vehicle’s air-intake system. This is done by measuring the amount of vacuum that is created when the air travels through the filter. When the filter has reached the end of its useful life, the air-restriction gauge alerts the driver that the filter needs to be replaced.
The Luber-finer Filter Minder® Air Filter Gauge can be used to measure the amount of restriction placed on the air that travels through a vehicle’s air system. This gauge provides a numerical reading of how well air is flowing into an engine, which is affected by filter health.
For more information on Luber-finer air filters and the Luber-finer Filter minder: