As you might have heard, the state of Washington is currently on fire. As it so happens, the state of Washington is also where I currently live.
While flames have not directly threatened my family, countless others have been evacuated from their homes or lost them altogether.
The resulting smoke in the air has been suffocating. Even in cities miles from the fires, smoke chokes out residents as embers from burned trees fall from the sky. Flecks of white ash cover cars.
My family and I, desperate to escape the heavy blanket of smoke, packed up the car and left the state to find a place where we could breathe some clean, crisp air. We ended up at Priest Lake, deep in the forests of North Idaho. The first day was perfect. On the second day, though, we discovered that Idaho is on fire, too.
I only tell this story because there’s an important lesson to remember here about cars:
They need to breathe, too.
That didn’t occur to me until my car, after driving for many days and hundreds of miles through dense smoke, started showing symptoms of being starved of oxygen. I could feel a slight decrease in power, it seemed to struggle to accelerate, and I could smell smoke in the cabin even with the air conditioning set to recirculation mode.
The solution was simple: Replace the air filter and cabin air filter. After doing so, the car could breathe again, performance returned to normal, and the smell of smoke inside the car slowly faded. However, the air still hasn’t cleared, and I’ll probably have to replace the filters again once the fires are extinguished.
To all of the residents of Washington, Idaho, and anywhere else experiencing wildfires, please don’t forget to change your filters as soon as possible.
While the majority of drivers in the U.S. won’t have to deal with wildfires and the resulting smoke, all of us regularly drive in conditions where the air isn’t perfectly clean. We drive on dirt roads, and we drive through polluted cities. Changing the air filter is easily forgotten, but it’s also the easiest (and probably cheapest) way to keep your car running at its optimum level.
When was the last time you changed your air filter?