Diesel fuel accounts for about a fifth (21%) of petroleum fuels used in U.S. transportation. Gasoline takes up about 47% of the market share, according to the EIA.
This is a clear sign that motorists in the country favor gas over diesel. Many of them still believe it's much cleaner than diesel. But that's not always the case, especially with today's modern diesel engines.
Plus, not a lot of consumers are aware that diesel's efficiency can be up to 40% greater than gas. It's attributed to the former's greater energy density.
To reap these benefits though, proper and routine air filter maintenance is a must. Forget to give your diesel engine air filter the care it deserves, and you can end up with serious engine issues.
Why exactly is maintenance for diesel air filters a must though? That's what we'll cover in this post today, so keep reading!
Protection against contaminants is no doubt the most important air filter function. It serves as a barrier against debris that may contaminate the engine. That means the entire engine, particularly its sensitive parts.
When a filter becomes too filthy, it can no longer perform what it's designed for. Its purpose of filtering becomes moot, transforming into a debris of its own. This can then result in damages to your engine's internal parts.
On the short term, clogged filters can reduce your vehicle's overall performance. Sluggishness, jerkiness, and pollution-producing smoke are some of what you can expect. All these show how crucial clean air filters are.
But if you want even more reason to, here's how clean (or dirty) air filters affect vehicle performance.
Clog-free air filters for diesel engines allow for optimal airflow into the engine. Air is one of the key ingredients that put your wheels in motion, after all. Correct amounts of air combined with diesel fuel create that spark that makes your ride move.
This said, when clean air and fuel mix, you can expect higher miles per gallon from your vehicle. On the other hand, contaminated air makes the "mixing" process itself more difficult. It's kind of like how you'd need more time to create a smooth batter because of all those lumps of flour.
When you allow your filter to accumulate dust and debris, it'll result in air restriction. This obstruction then limits the amount of air that can flow into the engine.
To compensate for this reduced air, your engine would have to work harder. As a result, it consumes more fuel along the way. That lowers your ride's MPG, causing you to visit the gas station more.
The lower MPG and increased top-up costs should be enough for you to realize the benefits of clean air filters.
One of the likely reasons you opted for diesel over gas is because you know diesels pack more energy. This is especially true for truckers, who rely on their ride's power to haul and lug around heavy cargo. The thing is, a filthy diesel air filter can compromise the engine's power output.
As explained above, clogged filters make it harder for engines to draw in air. This "breathing" difficulty chokes up your engine. This then drains the power out of your engine, resulting in power loss.
Think about it. A person who can't get enough oxygen can go limp and even faint, right? It's pretty much the same for engines, be it diesel or gas.
So, before your ride completely dies, check its air filter. It's most likely clogged and needs either washing or replacement.
Pro Tips: As a rule of thumb, change your air filter after every 15,000 miles. Keep in mind though that this still depends on how often (and long) you drive, as well as where you drive. You should wash or replace it more often if you often drive on salty, dusty, or polluted areas.
Speaking of reduced power output, a dirty air filter can also affect acceleration. As mentioned above, the blockages in the filter prevent proper air circulation. Hence, the debris-clogged filter no longer supplies sufficient air to your engine.
Because the engine doesn't receive the air it requires, it'll have a hard time accelerating. Your vehicle may even respond with jerking movements, causing serious driving discomfort.
While you may not use your vehicle to race, you still don't want to drive one with compromised acceleration. Nor do you want to a shaky vehicle, especially if you often pass by bumpy roads.
So, as soon as you notice issues when going from 0 to 60, check your air filter. The one in your diesel engine may already be so clogged it already looks like a huge chunk of debris itself. Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still, that means it needs some TLC.
The bottom line is, blocked air filters draw in air with much more difficulties. It chokes your engine, making it less efficient in more ways than just reduced mileage. Since a filthy filter also restricts the amount of air the engine can "inhale", you also lose power along the way.
So, don't wait until you experience all these headaches. As early as now, conduct routine air filter maintenance. Remember, all filters in your ride require attention, your engine air filter included. Plus, air filter upkeep can help you make your ride last up to 200,000 miles.
Since you're here, you may want to read our other blog posts on air filters. We've got other tips and tricks that can help you get the best bang for your buck spent on these important engine parts!