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Oil filters play a vital role in the operation of a vehicle. Most counter professionals cringe when they hear a customer say, “Just give me the cheapest one.” Let’s talk about why that’s an especially risky request when a customer is looking for a replacement oil filter. Counterman Magazine: http://www.counterman.com
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Cabin air filters may not be the most exciting part of today’s vehicles, but their role in cleaning up the interior air can be vital to your customers’ health.
Air pollution is becoming a bigger concern, even as cars are producing fewer emissions. Since the 1990s, automakers have included cabin air filters as a standard feature on vehicles, to remove dust, pollen, allergens and soot from the air in the interior of the car.
Much like an air filter for your home’s HVAC system, the cabin air filter improves the quality of the air entering the vehicle through the heating and cooling system. It also keeps dirt, debris, bugs and leaves out of the evaporator and heater core.
How often should these filters be changed? That depends on the filter’s service life and operating conditions. However, most manufacturers recommend replacing them once a year.
Cabin air filters are very efficient and can filter up to 100,000 liters of outside air through the vehicle’s interior – which is one reason that it’s a good idea to change these filter elements regularly. Your customers may not even realize they have one of these filters, because it’s not as commonly known as an air filter or oil filter. They sit behind the glovebox or in some other out-of-the-way location where most vehicle owners never see them. And being out of sight can lead to lack of maintenance.
There are two different types of cabin air filters available from the aftermarket: particle filters and activated carbon filters. While particle filters retain airborne particles, activated carbon filters have the added benefit of converting unpleasant or hazardous gases into breathable air and preventing these substances from entering the car. Regular replacement of the cabin air filter is particularly important for owners or passengers suffering from allergies, and may require more frequent changes in these cases.
Changing a cabin air filter requires minimal tools, if any at all. Most can be removed with a screwdriver and by lifting a couple of tabs. You can find the location from the owner’s manual or look it up online or in your service manual. The location of the filter in many vehicles is near the glovebox or under the hood by the windshield cowling where air enters.
Counterman, along with filter manufacturers, continues to point out the need to replace these filters at proper service intervals. But most vehicle owners don’t change their cabin air filter often enough (if ever) because it typically doesn’t affect the performance of the vehicle. However, when mold or other bacteria attach to the pleated paper filter element, it can affect the air quality inside the car. A plugged-up filter also restricts airflow through the HVAC system and can create heating and cooling issues.
When customers are replacing other filters, it’s a good idea to ask them if they’ve replaced their cabin air filter lately. If a customer complains that there’s a strange smell coming from the vents, chances are the cabin air filter is long overdue for a replacement.
With a fresh cabin air filter installed, at least the air on the interior will be clean and free of hazardous particles at a time when the environment around us is getting more unhealthy.
Installation space in a car is a rare commodity. Comfort functions, turbocharging, and much more have significantly reduced the available space in the engine compartment over the past decades. In response to this, the leading global filtration expert MANN+HUMMEL has developed new air filters with flexible external contours that make more efficient use of the available installation space. For the independent automotive aftermarket, they are available as MANN-FILTER Flexline C 26 017 and C 30 030 for the Mercedes-Benz A and B Class. The C 26 017 air filter is for gasoline engines and the C 30 030 is for diesel models. The use of further elements with flexible contours for other automotive manufacturers is planned.
Whereas flat air filters based on rectangular, trapezoidal, and polygonal forms with straight lateral edges were once the dominant design, the MANN-FILTER Flexline also makes efficient use of installation spaces with curved external contours. “We can accommodate a larger filtration area compared with conventional designs, and thus achieve higher separation efficiency and dust holding capacity,” says Daniel Schmid, product developer for Automotive Aftermarket Air Filter Elements at MANN+HUMMEL.
“With Flexline, we produce the air filter contours using state-of-the-art laser technology. This means that we can produce almost any shape that was not possible with the conventional method. With this laser technology, we are setting new standards in filter manufacturing,” emphasizes Schmid. Compared with filters with limited geometries and straight lateral edges, the C 26 017 air filter impresses with features such as 11% more filter surface area, 22% higher dust holding capacity, and 16% lower pressure loss. At the same time, the new Flexline air filters are also flatter than standard products, which means that can be used in particularly low installation spaces.
Mercedes-Benz was the first vehicle manufacturer to use the innovative solution, and is now using it as standard for its MFA2 (Modular Front Architecture) platform. The air filter will therefore be used in almost all four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines from the A and B Class as well as their derivatives in the future.
MANN+HUMMEL has filed several patents for the manufacturing method and the design of the Flexline air filter with the German Patent and Trademark Office as well as in other countries.
The factory-recommended replacement intervals for filters can vary quite a bit depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle, as well as how it is driven. As a rule, older vehicles (those more than 15 to 20 years old) typically have more frequent service intervals than newer vehicles. Why? Because late-model vehicles require less maintenance, thanks to improvements in motor oils, transmission fluids, engine design and filter media.
Many long-life air and oil filters use synthetic fiber media or a blend of cellulose and synthetic fibers to extend filter life.
Changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles was standard practice decades ago. But it’s no longer necessary because most multi-viscosity oils today are a synthetic blend or a full synthetic that resist viscosity breakdown and oxidation for a much longer period of time. Late-model fuel-injected engines also run much cleaner than their carbureted ancestors, which reduces oil contamination in the crankcase.
Oil and filter change intervals for most late-model vehicles range from 5,000 to 7,500 to 10,000 miles or more. Many vehicles don’t even have a time/mileage recommendation anymore but rely on a computer algorithm to turn on a “service reminder light” when an oil change is needed.
A key point with today’s extended service intervals is that they depend on two things: using a top-quality motor oil that meets OEM service requirements, and a premium or long-life oil filter (brand name or private label) that has the storage capacity to go the distance without clogging.
The most common mistake that’s made when recommending or choosing an oil filter is to go with the least expensive filter on the shelf. That can be a big mistake if a customer is not changing their oil for 5,000 miles or more. Many economy filters lack the storage capacity to go beyond 4,000 or 5,000 miles before they clog and go into bypass mode and route unfiltered oil to the engine.
Our advice is to always recommend a premium or extended-life filter to every customer who is following extended service intervals, as well as customers who are buying synthetic motor oil because they want the best protection for their engine.
Recommended replacement intervals for engine air filters can range from 30,000 to 50,000 miles or more, but it depends more on exposure to dirt than time or mileage. The dirtier the environment, the more often the air filter should be replaced. Inspecting the air filter when the oil is changed is the best way to tell if it is dirty.
Cabin air filters that trap both dust and odors typically have a service life of about one year regardless of mileage because the charcoal particles that absorb odors degrade over time. Dust-only cabin air filters should be inspected and/or replaced every two years or 30,000 miles, or as needed depending on operating conditions.
In-line fuel filters typically have a recommended replacement interval of 30,000 to 50,000 miles. But many of today’s fuel filters are part of the fuel pump module assembly inside the fuel tank and are “lifetime” filters with no recommended replacement interval. The filter should have enough capacity to last upward of 10 years or 150,000 miles – unless the fuel is somehow contaminated with a tank of dirty gas (it happens!).
Most late-model automatic transmission filters also are “lifetime” filters with no specified replacement interval. Under “normal” use, the fluid and filter often can go upwards of 10 years or 150,000 miles. However, many transmission experts still recommend changing the fluid and filter every 50,000 miles for preventive maintenance. Fluid and filter life can be cut short if the transmission runs hot (towing can cause this), or as a result of hard use. Discolored fluid that smells like burned toast is a sign of overheating and should be changed without delay.