One of the tasks which the majority of countries allows you to perform without having to take your car into a specialist workshop is filter replacement. Filters in the plural form, although many of us seem to think that the only component that needs to be replaced on a regular basis is the filter in the airbox, which delivers clean air to the engine.
In actual fact there are other filters, which are no less important, starting with the pollen filter, whose task is to keep the environment inside the passenger compartment healthy, as well as the fuel, petrol and diesel filter, and also the oil filter.
Air filter: child's play
It is worth starting with the simplest task, which in many cases can be completed without even using tools, thanks to its position, which is normally within easy reach. Indeed, simply lift the hood to locate the filter box, which is large and situated at the top of the engine compartment. To open it, simply release the springs which hold the lid in place, or alternatively loosen a few screws, to view the filter element. It may be a panel, or a cylinder, which is often made with a special kind of paper that does not limit the influx of air to the supply system, but at the same time manages to trap impurities.
Consumption levels soar
If it is dirty, and it often is, do not give in to the temptation of cleaning it with a burst of compressed air, because the results would be far from what you hope. This check should be carried out every 10-15 thousand km and should under no circumstances be underestimated. A dirty filter is capable of raising your fuel consumption levels, by 10-15 per cent, whereas if it is torn, even in just one place, it could leave the way open for impurities to pass, which could clog the supply.
Cutting corners isn't worth it
Which is why it's not a good idea to save on a few Euros. The job is an easy one, and it only takes a few minutes, but you do need to make sure you reassemble everything correctly, positioning the filter and the lid correctly to seal the box, after carefully cleaning the suction duct, which may fill up with dry leaves in autumn.
Not just against pollen
Then there's the air conditioning filter, which is commonly referred to as the pollen filter, whose task however is not only to prevent spring allergies, but also has the power to trap particulates year-round. A dirty and clogged activated carbon filter can also cause problems on rainy days: if the volume of air it lets through is insufficient, it can become difficult to demist your windscreen and windows. So it is better not to neglect this component, and replace it on a regular basis, at least once a year when your mileage is low, but even every six months if you travel more than 60,000 km a year.
Get help from a tutorial
If the pollen filter is placed in an easy to get to area of the engine compartment, the task will take just a few moments to complete. However, on many recent cars, the restricted amount of available space has forced it to be placed in more difficult positions, which require more complex tasks to approach the filter. In many cases, for instance, the glove compartment flap needs to be removed. To avoid venturing into challenging tasks, find out beforehand where yours is, by looking for a specific video tutorial on the Internet.
No air for the diesel filter
Fuel filters require an altogether different approach, because they have different characteristics and positions depending on the type of supply and on the age of the vehicle. The most easy to reach one is on cars with a diesel engine, which car manufacturers recommend you replace every 40-60,000 km. On some models it may be protected by a spray guard, which must be removed in order to remove the cartridge. The sequence in itself is not complex, but you do need to be careful not to allow any air into the injection circuit. In regards to this, the filter tray must not be emptied, but it must remain full of diesel for the duration of the replacement task.
Two solutions for petrol engines
As regards petrol engines, a distinction must be made between older, carburettor versions, and injection models. In the former case, it is very simple, because the filter barrel is located on the pipe that leads from the tank to the carburettor. Simply separate the two portions of piping, remove the old filter, insert the new one and tighten the two clips to prevent leaks. Electronic injection engine filters are on the other hand hidden beneath the body, near the tank, in an area that is difficult to reach without a car lift.