What Are Your Recommendations For Changing Filters?

It is best to follow "Severe Service" maintenance schedules in most new car owners manuals, with a few exceptions:

  • Air fitters need to be inspected regularly and replaced as often as needed, regardless of mileage or time. Dirty air filters can increase fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
  • Fuel filters should be replaced yearly and/or at every tune-up, especially on fuel injected cars. The fuel filter in a vehicle with electronic fuel injection passes a much larger volume of fuel than its counterpart in a carbureted application. If the tank is dirty or rusty, constant fuel recirculation can pickup a lot of debris that ends up in the filter. If the filter plugs, the engine is starved for fuel or unfiltered fuel is allowed to bypass the filter. The latter can damage injectors.
  • Oil filters need to be replaced at every oil change (every six months or 3,000 miles in most cases) despite the advice in many owner's manuals to only change the filter at every other oil change. A new filter is cheap insurance against major engine damage, so why take unnecessary risks?
  • Few owner's manuals have a suggested change interval for the automatic transmission fluid or fluid filter unless the vehicle is used for towing. Most transmission specialists say the best preventative maintenance for prolonging automatic transmission life is to change fluid and filter every two years or 30,000 miles.
  • Do follow manufacturer's recommendations on the specific type of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to use. The type of ATF should match the specs required for the application.
  • All GMs, most late model Chryslers and many imports use Dexron II. All 1988 and later Fords require Mercon ATF. Most "universal" ATF fluids are acceptable for either of these. Older Fords or imports require Type F fluid.
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