The air cleaner assembly works to provide the car's engine with a supply of clean, filtered air. Air needs to be as clean as possible before it mixes with the fuel and burns in the cylinders of the car's engine. The air cleaner assembly protects the engine, improving its performance, enabling it to work as efficiently as possible while increasing the working life of the engine.
Usually the air cleaner assembly is fixed on to an air induction system enabling filtration at the point the air enters the air induction system.
The air cleaner assembly has an air intake filter cartridge, often referred to as an air filter, which collects dust and other particles. The air intake filter cartridge has a maximum capacity and once dust collected reaches this capacity you will need to replace the air cleaner assembly's air intake filter cartridge, if disposable, or get it serviced. Under no circumstances should you clean and replace a disposable air intake filter cartridge, these should always be replaced.
If the air cleaner assembly air intake filter cartridge gets blocked due to an excess buildup of dust, dirt and oil, the air stream is restricted which stops the correct mixture of fuel and air needed for optimal combustion. If there is not enough air, the engine consumes more fuel and cannot perform at its best. A blocked air intake filter suffocates the car's engine. It is not a good idea to continue driving your car when the air intake filter cartridge for the air cleaner assembly is blocked; this can have serious implications for the car's heating and ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as causing potential damage to the engine, while at the same time significantly reducing fuel efficiency. Dirt and other unwanted debris that is allowed to enter the engine can seriously damage pistons, carburetor and cylinders. How regularly you need to replace or service the air intake filter cartridge will depend on factors such as how often you drive your car and the length of the journeys you take. Climate, air quality and road conditions will also play a big part in how hard the air cleaner assembly's air intake filter cartridge is having to work. If the engine is not performing as well, using more fuel, or you have difficulty starting your car it could mean you have a clogged air intake filter cartridge, or another issue with the air cleaner assembly, and it will need replacing or servicing.