June 18, 1989

Breathless


When I was a little boy, I used to suffer from mild attacks of asthma. Terrible thing asthma. It becomes a shortness of breath, a feeling that you can't quite breathe deeply enough, and the harder you try, the less air you seem to be able to take in. It wasn't till I was older that the causes of asthma were explained to me. The bronchial tubes, those things we breathe through, tend to close down and restrict the flow of air to the lungs, a bit like trying to drink through a squashed straw. Not much fun.

What's all this got to do with your car?

Cars are a lot like people. They all have personalities, they throw tantrums, the have their little breakdowns and they also need to breathe air. Taking the analogy further, the carburetor is the equivalent of the lungs, and the air cleaner system is the bronchial tubes. Unless the air that passes through the system is free to flow without obstruction, then your poor little Suzi is suffering from automotive asthma. You drive along, see a big hill and put your foot down; the carby says to itself "Oh, more power required… I'll deliver some more fuel, [gasp], if only I could breathe more air!"

The thing that obstructs a flow of air is the air filter element. You see, when Suzuki built your car it built it to a price. Certain corners were cut to save a little bit of money at the engineering end so that you could buy it for a reasonable price at the showroom end. If you would like to see a classic example of a cut corner, open the plastic box that houses your air filter element and there you have one... the paper filter.

Paper filters are an example of a single depth filter. In simple terms, a screen. If you get a microscope and have a close inspection, you will see that the paper has lots of little tiny holes in it .... the concept is very simple, if a piece of junk is too big for the holes it gets caught, but if it's smaller it passes through. Hence the term 'single depth' filter; there is only one layer doing all the work. When all the little holes get full of all this junk, they stop passing air through and your Suzi begins to suffer from asthma.

New members of this club often ask the question "What accessories should I get?" Lists of things like wide wheels, fat tyres, hi suspension, sunroofs, etc, etc. get thrown around in conversation. But let's make the point clear... unless your car has a good flow of 100% clean air, everything else is a waste of time and money!!

There is a product available which will not only deliver pure, dust free air to your carby, but it is highly resistant to clogging, quick and simple to clean, and costs about the same price as the horrible paper thing that you are using now. What I'm talking about of course, are Finer Filters.

Finer Filters are a replacement air filter element which fits directly into the standard air box. Instead of being made of paper, it is made of aerated foam. The idea is simple. There are 2 layers of foam, an inner and an outer band. Both are impregnated with a special tacky oil. This filter is referred to as a "full depth filter" because to get through the filter, a piece of airborne junk must pass through a complicated maze of tiny irregular "shafts", which is the void that makes up the foam. Because there are so many of these shafts, and there is so much void, the filter can trap many times the junk that a paper filter can, and so will not tend to clog up and become asthmatic. The tacky oil further traps the dirt and dust It sounds too good to be true, but not only does it stop ALL airborne rubbish from entering the carby, it performs the task with almost zero obstruction to the air flow.

Impressed? You should be. Now consider this. The owners manual for the 1.3 litre Sierra advises that the air cleaner element (for want of a better term) should be cleaned every 10,000 km. This is on paved road conditions with, I assume, nobody kicking up dust in front of you. For dusty conditions, it recommends cleaning every 2,500 km or as required, and replacement every 40,000 km. It also says that more frequent replacement should be necessary under dusty conditions. Now think about what you do with your car. If you go on club trips, you will spend a considerable amount of time driving in very dusty conditions, usually with a full load on board, and still expecting top performance from the little beast. Seasoned club members could tell you some real horror stories about dust, I'm sure. So let's say you replace a paper element every 20,000 kms which is more likely. My car has 140,000 kms on it ... that means I'd be on my seventh paper element. At around $45 a throw, I would have spent roughly $315.00 in paper filters since I've had the car, and they wouldn't even have been doing a very good job anyway. My engine would still be suffering from wear due to the tiny particles that easily slip through a paper filter.

But no, I put a Finer Filter in almost from the word go. I think it cost me about $45. A bottle of Finer Filter Fluid cost about $10. Not only has it cost a fraction of the price, but it has been doing the job properly, which explains which such a high km engine is still plodding along so nicely. When a Finer Filter gets dirty, you don't replace t. You simply peel off the outer layer, clean it, re-oil it and put it back. It takes about 5 minutes, costs bugger all for the fluid, and can be done anywhere, even on the side of the track, in the middle of nowhere.

On top of being 100% efficient, Finer Filters are also 100% Australian made, which has got to be a big plus. If you want to know who uses them you could look at nearly every vehicle in dusty events like the Wynns Safari, winning off-road racing teams, leading 4WD accessory houses, Turbo manufacturers, not to mention the Suzuki Club!

There are types available for 50's, 80's, 1.0 and 1.3 Sierras and they've just released one for Vitaras as well. When you weigh it all up..... the cost, the efficiency, the convenience, and the protection, there really aren't any good reasons for NOT having one.

Now if only we could find a cure for asthma as easily!

Volume 14, No 6
June 1989
Chris Betcher