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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.