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3208 International St, Fairbanks, AK   |   (907) 312-1447

Metropolitan Garage Series

DIY Fails

Common Alaskan Automotive DIY Fails: Air Filter Installation

We are handy in Fairbanks and we know it. And it’s not all ego. We have to be?

Now, we don’t all live the dramatic lives of Alaska Reality TV. Almost a million people live in AK and yet THE MAJORITY of us live 20 minutes from a Walmart (shhhhhh. Don’t tell anyone! Our ratings will go down).

BUT, here are some TRUE facts:

  • When it snows, nobody is going to dig you out. You are going to dig you out.
  • When your furnace quits, usually everyone’s furnace has just quit. You get in line or figure it out yourself.
  • When your auto-delivery diesel guy fails and you wake up to the house at 40F, it’s on you. Not the delivery guy (he’s warm in bed).
  • When a tree falls on the power lines and your hillside is dark for three days, you keep the pipes warm, not GVEA.

The list goes on.
AND with every challenge we learn something and become more independent.

This is true for transportation as well. It’s not easy to work on a car in the driveway! It’s not paved or level, its dark, its snowing, it’s -30 and every plastic thing on the car breaks when you touch it….

But we persevere. And we learn things.

At METRO, we find that our customers learn a few things THE HARD WAY. This usually means THE EXPENSIVE WAY.

We call “learning things the expensive way”, TUITION. Some educations cost more than others.
When a customer fixes their own car and it comes to us on the back of a wrecker (because the YouTube video maybe was poorly curated or just flat our wrong?) that customer often pays more to fix both the unfixed problem and the new problem they have created!

One common, catastrophic fail is replacing the air filter. One would think a body with two hands can replace a fancy pleated piece of fabric? And it’s true, ANYone can. However, doing it correctly seems to be a challenge ANYone has not mastered.

The picture with this post shows two common fails. The third is actually a problem of “sourcing” the part correctly, which we will explain.

First, assuming the new air filter is the correct one for the vehicle, it is actually TRICKY to seal the air box correctly. The picture on the left is a Subaru. The arrow is pointing to a gap. The clip above it IS fastened, leaving the DIY driver to believe they have succeeded.

HOWEVER, they don’t realize how they have succeeded: This gap forces the vehicle to breathe whatever dust and dirt your commute produces. If you live on a side-road, your car is basically breathing grit. This grit DESTROYS engines.

Imagine someone put sand in your yoghurt every morning? Yep. This is what your Subaru experiences. This grit polishes in no time the passage ways in an engine, causing the equivalent of THOUSANDS of miles of wear in hours and weeks of driving, rather than months and years.

The picture on the right is a Honda Element. The Honda CRV also has this same air box set up. The yellow arrow is pointing to a screw that is so often missing when they roll into the Shop.

This tiny, missing screw seems harmless enough. It isn’t. IT’S WHERE THE MONEY IS.

This screw provides the tension that seals the air box. The perfect seal on an airbox is the only thing forcing air through the filter! This box must be installed properly.

The third fail is “parts sourcing”. This refers to the process of choosing the correct filter out of 254,985 choices. And there literally are this many choices.

When you walk into Auto Zone and tell them you own a 2015 Kia Soul, the counter help has to know WHICH one of the 254,985 choices is yours! Um huh. Now you see the problem.

And believe it or not something like the Toyota HRV have a different filter for the first six months of 2014, than the last six months of 2014…

This is esoteric, special knowledge. It is actually similar to knowing tax tables (most of us pay fines, an accountant, or Liberty Tax in order to NOT read tax tables).

At METRO, we spend our days logging data and getting these things right. Let us be your accountant on servicing your vehicle if you’re not dead certain about you air filter.

OR, look for the next Repair CAFE at Metro, and we will teach you how! [email protected]