Filter Buyer's Guide

Did you know that your car uses several filters to keep external dirt, grime and water from entering vital systems?

Filters are vital bits of kit which keep everything working as it should, so damaged or blocked filters can become a big problem.

Over time, filters will naturally degrade and potentially become clogged up with all sorts of grime that needs to be kept away from important areas, so they may need to be replaced. Here’s our guide to the filters in your vehicle and what to do if they need to be replaced.

How do I know if my car filters need changing?

Usually, all filters need to be changed every 12,000 miles, or roughly once a year, and keeping to this schedule will ensure your car doesn’t become damaged when a filter becomes ineffective. However, always check your car owner’s manual, as some filters may last a little longer or need replacing sooner.

For certain filters, like the oil and fuel filters, a warning light may come up on the dashboard. It’s best to get the filter changed straight away if this happens.

Other symptoms can be slightly tougher to spot. If your air conditioning doesn’t feel as powerful or cold, then the air con filter could be to blame, whereas an engine fan that stays on for a long time after the car has been driven could be a pointer towards the engine air filter not working as it should. As with many car components, preventative maintenance is always better, so it’s best to change the filters before they stop working to safeguard against any potential damage.

Air filters

Air filters prevent dirt and grime from entering your car’s engine intake. The cleaner the air, the more efficiently your engine will burn fuel, so you’ll spend less on fuel and enjoy improved performance. If this filter becomes clogged, then your engine will need to burn more fuel, or may even stop working if the filter prevents any air from entering the engine intake.

As this filter is such a critical piece of kit, it needs to be checked regularly. It’ll get looked at during your interim or annual service, but it’s worth looking out for the signs that show the filter could be blocked. If the fan stays on longer, or your car suddenly feels sluggish, then the air filter may be the issue, so drop it into a Halfords autocentre where we’ll take a look for you.

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Cabin filter

Did you know that the air you breathe while you’re driving actually travels through a filter before it reaches the inside of the car? Air conditioning systems in modern cars draw air from outside the car, but irritants like pollen could cause driving to become a miserable experience.

These filters will also do a decent job of keeping other unwanted particles from entering the cabin (although not everything), so make sure they’re checked and potentially changed at least once a year.

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Oil filter

Oil is a vital car consumable, helping to lubricate moving parts and dissipate heat caused by friction. The key to a healthy car is to ensure not only that there’s enough oil, but also that the oil going into the system is as clean as it can possibly be.

Over time, oil degrades and becomes contaminated with various pollutants that can clog up the channels that take oil to vital parts and components. It can also be the case that new oil has impurities. Your oil filter does the important job of removing these impurities and ensuring the oil in your system is as clean as it can be.

If this filter stops working as it should, then you may see a significant drop in performance, or even damage to your car over time if the filter isn’t changed.

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Fuel filter

Similar to oil, the fuel you put into the tank can contain impurities that build up inside your engine and fuel intake systems over time. A fuel filter will clean the fuel before it enters the engine, meaning you’ll enjoy better acceleration and fuel economy. Again, this filter can become clogged over time, so it’ll need to be changed eventually.

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The easiest way to ensure your filters remain in good shape is to ensure you have an annual and interim service each year. Having your car checked by a trained mechanic every six months means that you’ll benefit not just from running repairs, but also planned, preventative maintenance that could solve problems before they happen.

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If you do want to change your own filters, then we’d always recommend picking up a Haynes Manual for your car. These detailed guides include instructions and tips on essential car maintenance, so will certainly make life easier!

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It’s free to join and you’ll receive money off your MOT, a free car health check and a welcome voucher that can be spent on any Halfords product or service.

Or choose our Premium membership for a small monthly fee (or a one-off payment) to unlock exclusive member pricing on all motoring products and services online and across our stores, garages and Halfords Mobile Experts, as well as a variety of other benefits that will help you to keep moving for less.

With so much to enjoy, this is too good an opportunity to miss!

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