Your vehicle's engine air filter looks like a simple barrier of accordion-like folded paper because that’s basically all it is. But it's responsible for providing clean air to your engine’s cylinders. And it generally does a very good job of it.
Clean air is important because it’s just as crucial as clean fuel in the combustion process that powers the pistons inside your engine. The air around your vehicle can contain dirt, grime or soot before it passes through the engine air filter, which removes these impurities. The clean air is then directed through the air intake manifold and finally into the cylinders. There, the clean and contaminant-free air mixes with fuel in proper proportions to be ignited and create the small controlled explosions that power your vehicle.
This simple filter does a great job, but only for so long. Over time, the dirt it prevents from entering your engine builds up on the outer surfaces of the filter. And a dirty, clogged engine air filter prevents your engine from getting enough fresh air, which can rob it of performance and fuel economy. The engine air filter is part of a system that uses hoses to bring in outside air and a container or housing (often a box) that holds the filter itself. Sometimes debris like leaves or scraps of paper can accumulate in the engine air filter housing, resulting in the same effect as a clogged filter: obstructed airflow. The system may also draw air from pollution control systems like the PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve, which is also filtered to remove contaminants. Your vehicle’s manufacturer prescribes engine air filter replacement at regular intervals as a condition of maintaining your vehicle’s warranty, but be aware that the filter’s life depends on operating conditions. Driving on dirt roads or in particularly polluted traffic zones day after day can causes it to fill up with crud more quickly, so a simple visual inspection is recommended. An engine air filter inspection and possible engine air filter replacement by your Jiffy Lube® technician only takes a few minutes but is totally worth it to your pocketbook and peace of mind.