Filter frustrations

Filter frustrations

Champion, the filters specialist, is reminding workshops why neglecting filters during servicing is never a good idea. CVW finds out why.

The reliability of any carefully engineered device can only be as good as its weakest link. In automotive terms, service items can compromise mechanical durability and neglected filters, in particular, can cause lasting damage. The use of low-quality replacement items can lead to severe damage: a failing oil filter, for example, can jeopardise oil flow and lead to expensive oil starvation.

“Poor running, reduced performance or even an allergic reaction; not swapping a vehicle’s filters with OE-quality replacements on time can have a devastating effect on the health of your vehicle, bank balance and you,” explained Jonathan Allen, Regional Marketing Manager, Federal-Mogul Motorparts EMEA, who set out some hints and tips provided by filters expert, Champion. “Filters undergo the same rigorous testing as any other component and failing to replace an ailing filter can quickly lead to premature wear of other, more expensive to replace, components, such as piston rings. At the very least, a badly clogged cabin filter can undermine the extensive R&D work carried out by manufacturers attempting to improve NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels and ambient cabin quality.”

Air, fuel, oil and cabin; Champion runs through the issues that will likely arise should filters fail to be properly serviced.

Impact of a clogged air filter

■ Power loss: Modern engine management systems calculate the amount of fuel to be injected using the pressure in the intake manifold. If the air filter is clogged and the incoming air is soiled this will result in distorted data and the engine power will drop.

■ Black smoke: If the air flow drops because of a clogged filter, too much diesel will be injected causing an incomplete combustion, with black exhaust smoke as a result.

■ Engine damage: If a filter with low efficiency is not replaced in time, it creates a snowball effect: particles enter and damage the engine, small pieces come off the engine parts and the amount of dust in the engine increases. Ultimately, this will lead to the engine’s malfunction or breakdown.

■ Increased fuel consumption: A clogged filter will generate a higher pressure difference between the clean and the dirty chambers. This can lead to particle detachments. In newer vehicles, this may also lead to sensor misreading. In older, it can have a choke effect as a consequence.

Impact of a clogged fuel filter

■ Power loss: If the amount of delivered fuel is lower than that requested by the engine, the mixture will be lean and there will be power loss. Also, a mixture that is too lean can lead to a misfire and the engine attempting to troubleshoot, which could in turn damage the catalytic converter.

■ Bad starting properties: When the fuel filter is clogged the time to reach ideal pressure in the fuel line will increase and the engine will have starting problems or will not start at all.

■ Damage to other components: Modern common rail injection systems are made with high accuracy. Dirt can damage parts that are expensive to replace, caused by a fuel filter not replaced in time or one that is installed poorly.

Impact of a clogged oil filter

■ Engine wear: A clogged oil filter will allow unfiltered oil to reach the lubricated parts. This will cause excessive engine wear.

■ Leaking oil filter: The oil and oil filter must always be replaced together at specific moments recommended by the manufacturer. If the oil is never changed, too old, or only topped up, it will turn into black sludge. An engine flush is a possible solution and a full rebuild would be recommended.

Impact of a clogged cabin filter

■ Health: Cabin filters are installed to capture particles, pollen, bacteria, exhaust particles and moisture to provide clean air for occupants. If not replaced in time, allergic reactions inducing sneezing, watery eyes and coughing may affect the driver and passengers.

■ Safety: A clogged cabin filter will affect the ventilation circuit. The cabin blower experiences increased resistance making it work harder and reducing its operating life. A reduction in the performance of the air-conditioning or heater will also be experienced.

■ Economy: When the cabin filter is clear from dust and dirt, it helps to maximise the airflow in the A/C system. The result: better performance, reduced fuel consumption and protection of A/C system components.

Filters are often viewed as minor components, which means it can be tempting to try to save money by opting for lower quality products. Using OE-quality parts gives both consumers and technicians confidence in the work carried out. Preventative maintenance is the solution to avoiding large repair costs, and with a little care it’s easy to ward away the big bills.

For more information on Champion’s range of LCV filters, visit

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