The Purpose of Your Engine Air Filter and Service

Dirty Clogged Engine Air Filter Compared to a Clean Brand New Engine Air Filter

The Purpose of Your Engine Air Filter and Service

The Purpose of Your Engine Air Filter And Service

The Purpose of Your Engine Air Filter


The purpose of your engine air filter is to prevent dust and contaminates from entering the engine. Dust and other debris can act as grit that damage metal in precision contact surfaces such as the piston rings and cylinder walls. The effects can be devastating, like reduced cylinder compression, scratches in cylinder walls which allow too much oil blow-by in the combustion chambers, interference between valves and valve seats, damage to cylinders, and can contribute to gunk and sludge buildup in the intake manifold.

Air filter replacement is part of your routine factory maintenance schedule on your car. In modern cars, the engine air filter replacement intervals can be as long as 20,000 to 30,000 miles. In older cars, it is common to replace the engine air filter every 10,000 miles. At Rennwerks, we often see factory air filters get dirty enough in modern cars to warrant replacement at 10,000 to 15,000 miles, therefore we suggest sticking with the older air filter replacement intervals. Your engine air filter should be checked more frequently if you have been driving in dusty conditions.

The engineers of car manufacturers design the air filter to allow adequate air flow in the engine to permit proper fuel efficiency, while protecting the engine. As the air filter gets clogged with debris, it starts to reduce the airflow entering the engine. It is like trying to breathe through a towel covering your mouth. If you try to go jogging with that towel covering your mouth, you will find it hard to breathe and to perform your best. The same happens in a car and the effect is reduced gas mileage. The symptoms slowly get worse over time as the air filter progressively gets more and more clogged with debris. The car’s owner typically doesn’t notice any issues until the air filter is severely clogged with contaminants. At this point, the vehicle owner may notice a check engine light and power loss with his car.

When the engine air filter has reached its saturation point, the filter element begins to deteriorate and allow debris to get past it. The first engine item to be affected is often the mass airflow sensor. The mass airflow sensor is responsible for measuring air entering the engine and to relay that information to the engine control computer so that the engine computer can properly inject the correct amount of fuel into the engine for proper combustion. The problem is that the air mass sensor is a sensitive sensor. When it becomes contaminated with dirt, it starts to lose calibration and fails to send correct airflow data to the engine control computer. When this situation occurs, often one of several types of performance or emissions related codes may be triggered and cause the check engine light to illuminate. The check engine light often forces the vehicle owner to visit a repair shop and complain of performance issues and pay for a vehicle diagnosis.  At this point, it should be clear why proper car maintenance and timely air filter replacement should be performed and can save the vehicle owner money.

Quality and Competence

We have the know-how to keep your vehicle top-notch condition. Allow us to be your Car doctor. At Sprint Motorsports we provide the best quality OEM parts from manufactures such as Bosch, Mahle,  and Mann. We have expert trained staff that undergo constant training and education to stay up to date with the latest industry technology. We have dealership level equipment and stand behind our work with a 2 year warranty. Give us a call!


At Sprint Motorsports we are automotive enthusiasts and professionals. We take pride in caring for our customers, and are invigorated by the opportunity to provide competent and comprehensive automotive repair services. We strive to be the leading auto service, car repair, tuning, and race facility in the Campbell, Cupertino, Saratoga, Willow Glen, Almaden, Santa Clara, Los Gatos, and San Jose Area. We will provide you personalized, detailed, and friendly service. Our relationships are built on trust, communication, integrity, and commitment to our purpose; to be the best shop we can be to you, the customer.

To schedule an appointment for auto repair service, major or minor service, please contact service@sprint-motorsports.com or 408-831-3730. We welcome you to stop by our auto repair shop at 2099 S 10th St, Unit 40, San Jose, Ca 95112. If you have any questions about your car’s performance, repair needs, or maintenance, don’t be shy about asking our friendly staff for assistance.