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4 Types of Car Filters and Their Function

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For your vehicle to run optimally, it relies on filters to keep the intricate mechanics free from dirt and grime. Filters that become clogged with contaminants will quickly impact your car’s performance and lead to serious mechanical problems. This is why it is so important to have your car serviced regularly.

Car filters

The different filters are designed to screen out impurities in your car and each play a part in helping it run smoothly in the short term while preventing breakdowns in the long term.

There are four kinds of car filters that are used in almost every fuel-driven vehicle: two air filters, a fuel filter, and an oil filter.

1. Air filter

Most cars these days have two air filters, one for the engine and the other for the cabin.

Engine air filter

Internal combustion engines need clean air to function efficiently. To keep your car’s engine free from pollutants, the air filter screens out the debris and contaminants. If these substances such as pollen, dust, road grime, and bugs find their way through, this could cause internal engine damage if not seen to immediately.

An air filter that is clogged is bad for fuel economy and will also cause other mechanical problems such as a sluggish engine or misfiring. On the other hand, engines running on a clean filter tends to have better acceleration, as the graph from the US Department of Energy below illustrates.

Performance Benefit to Changing a Clogged Air Filter on a Modern Vehicle

changing a clogged air filter

WOT – Wide-open throttle
MPH – Miles per hour

Your car’s air filter is a simple component that is easy to change  Ensure that it is checked at every vehicle service.

Cabin air

Your car’s cabin air filter is part of its ventilation system. It helps keep the air inside the car cabin clean and free of air pollutants (such as dust, pollen, exhaust fumes, etc.) while you’re driving.

Maintaining cabin air quality isn’t the only function of the air filter. It also prevents those pollutants from clogging  Not only that, bacteria build-up can contribute to adverse health effects. The longer you leave your air conditioner in this state the more likely you are to breathe in the bacteria, leading to allergic reactions and infections.

2. Fuel filter

The fuel filter is a cartridge located in the fuel line. It helps prevent gas contaminants from reaching and damaging crucial parts in the fuel injection system.

Most cars on the road run on internal combustion engines (ICE). Combustion, or burning, occurs when energy is released from a mixture of fuel and air. In an internal combustion engine, the ignition and burning of fuel occurs within the engine itself. Over time, moisture, rust, fuel by-products, and other debris can contaminate the fuel system. A clogged fuel filter can result in difficulty starting up, the engine stalling or misfiring, sluggish performance, and decreased fuel inefficiency.

Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations on how often to replace your fuel filter. The rule of thumb is between every 30,000 to 40,000 kilometres, whichever comes first, but this can also depend on your individual driving habits and the type of road conditions you frequent. 

3. Oil filter

Your car’s engine needs a large volume of clean oil to run smoothly. The role of engine oil is to lubricate the many engine components inside the engine that work together to make a vehicle run. It also helps regulate the engine’s operating temperatures. With time, engine oil eventually becomes grimy as it collects dirt and metal particles. Without engine lubricant, the engine would quickly overheat and parts would wear out prematurely.

The oil filter traps contaminants cycling through the engine by keeping debris out of the engine oil. A clean and functioning oil filter will contribute to a car that runs smoothly, giving you better fuel efficiency, and rewarding you with a long engine lifespan.

Replace the oil filter every time you change your oil. A general rule of thumb is every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometres, but, as always, make sure to check your car manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.


If you want your car to operate smoothly and perform optimally, clean filters will keep it running like a mean machine. Supa Quick’s Minor Services includes the replacement of air, fuel, and oil filters and are approved by the RMI (Retail Motor Industry). Minor Services is available at selected Supa Quick service centres – find one near you – it might just save you money in the long run!

Disclaimer: This content is for informational, educational, or entertainment purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of the content.


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