As part of an oil change service, every customer expects that the shop technician takes the time to properly inspect the key points of the engine, like the air intake system. After all, if the air intake is restricted or fouled, it affects how the vehicle runs. When a shop is all done, we hope the vehicle will run better than before.
However, because oil changes aren't a highly profitable service for most shops, and they usually assign entry level, low pay techs to the jobs, often the simple things get missed because of a lack of knowledge or a lack of desire. I have found many air filters and cabin air filters that weren't checked because it was a challenge. I took some pictures and will explain as I go.
Here is an air filter out of a Chrysler Pacifica. When I performed the service, I found that getting to the air filter was a bit challenging. It required the removal of the intake tube between the throttle body and the air filter housing. Not a terrible task, but more than a quick check. Of course, when I saw the condition of this filter, it was clear that no one had checked it in some time.
Here is an air filter from a Ford E250. These are often skipped by young techs because they find that the cylindrical filter housing is too challenging to reinstall because of a weird, round latch. I won't lie, there is a trick to it, and if you don't know it, it can be aggravating.
An important point is that both of these vehicles are daily drivers. The owners rely on their cars to get them where they need to be. In these images, we see a serious restriction to air flow. The problem with that is that an engine is an air pump. It pulls air in, mixes it with fuel for combustion, then pushes it out of the exhaust. If there is a problem in the beginning, you can guarantee problems down the line. Poor fuel mileage, spark fouling, increased emissions and other running issues. It may not seem like much in the immediate, but cutting corners in vehicle maintenance can cost the owner down the road.
Erik and Jennifer are the owner/operators of Mobile Service Pros. We enjoy working with our customers and community.