How do you know it's time for a change?

My friend asked me the other day and I didn’t have an answer for him. He was wondering how often you should change your car’s air filter? He on average drives about 9-10,000 miles a year, all being city driving. Also how often should he change out his oil and filter? He has a 2007 Saturn.

His owners manual will tell him what to do.

Saturn recommends 30k miles for normal conditions. The Saturn either has an oil change light that will come on when he is due for an oil change or it has the oil life monitor built into the radio display. He has to hit the info button and then the advance button to scan through the displays. It’s all in the owners manual.

So if he doesn’t drive that much he could go over a year plus without changing the air filter and almost a year without changing his oil?

I go over a year without changing the air filter in my Saturn, and I put about 26k/yr on it. The oil change light comes on about every 4 months for me. I suspect his will come on about as often as he does city driving.

Those who buy a used car seldom are given an owner’s manual. Tell your friend it is truly in his interest to pick one up, either at a dealership or purchased online.

Yes, but note that I think the filter should be inspected about once a year, if it looks ‘good’ then it can go up to 30k miles, but if he drives in a dusty area it’ll need changing earlier.

The air filter should be checked routinely, and if it appears to be getting dirty or has something entrapped in it that it should not have, it should be changed and the source of the foreign substance investigated. By “foreign substance” I mean residue of oil or something other than regular dirt.

I check mine every time I change my oil. That’s really more than necessary, especially since I change my oil about every two months, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to check it. It takes about 90 seconds.

texases makes a good point. I check this and certain other things more frequently than required on a new vehicle until I am comfortable with how it responds to its environment and my driving style. Then I make decisions based on that. In the case of my Saturn, After 9 years and 237k miles, i just change the filter every 30k.

The recommendation from Saturn is 3 years or 30k miles. I would check it annually until I determined just how long I could trust it.

If the friend of the OP just bought the Saturn and does not have a maintenance history on it, and if it has over 30k on it now, I would recommend that he change the oil, oil filter, air filter and spark plugs now and keep a good log of maintenance for the future.

There are a couple of blank pages in the back of the owners manual that are good for this.

He bought it maybe like 3 years ago and has put maybe 25,000 miles on it in that time. He did just change the oil because the light came on, and that was like maybe the 3rd time he said he has changed the oil since he bought the car.

That’s one for the ‘‘look and see’’ file.
There are just some things that no one can blindly tell you replace at X.
Even the owner’s manual is a best guess / split the difference recomendation.
How often ?
look at it and see .

Make sure your friend knows how to reset the oil monitor system. It does not automatically know when you change the oil, you have to tell it. In my 2004 Vue, the procedure involved turning the key and pumping the gas pedal in a certain pattern. If you have a dashboard communication center, it might be as simple as hitting “Reset” somewhere. For example, if he did not reset the monitor after the first time he changed the oil, the second change may have been early.

Pull the air filter out and look at it. If only the tips of the filter are dirty, clean off the topical dirt put it back in. If the dirt is well down into the pleats, then replace it.

I would have to caution anyone about cleaning the air filter elements. When I was a lad, I was taught to only knock the element against a hard surface to knock loose any large particles.

Any attempt to brush off the filter can force some contaminates deeper into the media where it might get all the way through, leaving a hole for other particles of this size to get through.

Using compressed air is also bad as it contains moisture which could turn some embedded dust into “mud” that further restricts airflow.

“I would have to caution anyone about cleaning the air filter elements. When I was a lad, I was taught to only knock the element against a hard surface to knock loose any large particles.”

That’s what I had in mind, keith.

Back when I used paper filters, I would change them about every 15k miles or once a year. They were pretty cheap for the cars I was driving at the time ($5 for one $7 for the other) I figured it was cheap insurance.

When you hold a new air filter up to the sun, you see light. if you hold your old one up and you see a significant difference spend the bucks and change the filter.

30K miles is the air filter change interval. If you drive frequently on dirt roads change the filter at 15K miles.

How do you know when it is time for a change?

I knew it was time when she started introducing me to other men as “her current husband.”

It all depends on where you drive. I have a lot of clean city driving and have inspected my air filter every year. It didn’t look like it needed it, but I finally changed it at 80K miles.

So don’t waste money changing it too early if you are on clean roads and have little dirt or debris on it.

Filters are not expensive, but why change when it is not ready for it?