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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Vehicle's Air and Cabin Filters Offer Critical Protection from Soot, Smoke

The soot and smoke from wildfires can be a serious concern for both vehicles and passengers, unless the air filters and cabin filters are in optimum working condition. The Car Care Council suggests that these filters be checked to ensure they
provide maximum protection during this difficult time.

The vehicle's air filter traps dirt particles, including soot, which can cause damage to engine cylinders, cylinder walls, pistons, piston rings and bearings. The air filter also plays a critical role in keeping smoke and soot from contaminating the airflow sensor on fuel-injected cars.

Air filters are a normal wear item that requires regular checks and replacement. As a rule of thumb, air filters should be inspected at each oil change and replaced annually or when showing other signs of contamination.

The cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning the air entering the passenger compartment. Under normal circumstances, it helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle's heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The filter also prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the HVAC system, which could also cause problems.

More than 80 percent of new domestic and import vehicles sold in the U.S. today come equipped with cabin air filtration systems or a slot where one can be installed. Most filters are accessed through a panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or placed within the interior of the vehicle.

A cabin air filter should not be cleaned and reinstalled. Instead, it should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or per the owner's manual. In areas with heavy airborne contaminants, it should be changed as often as necessary.

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