As a car owner, it's up to you to maintain your vehicle properly. Most people know that that means changing the engine oil regularly, rotating the tires, and taking care of your brake pads. Not as many people realize they need to make a regular engine air filter replacement as well. The air filter of your engine keeps dust and debris from gumming up the cylinders of your engine. That filter becomes clogged over time, and not keeping up on the filter will lead you to eventual performance issues. It's up to you to check and replace your air filter regularly, but first, you have to know how. Learn the steps involved with testing and replacing most modern vehicle air filters, and you'll be prepared to handle this simple maintenance task yourself.
How to Change a Car Air Filter
Here is a quick overview of the steps that you'll go through when changing your vehicle's air filter:
- Open the hood
- Locate the air box
- Unlatch the box and open the top
- Pull out the old air filter
- Insert the new filter
- Close the air box
- Lower your vehicle's hood, and you're finished
Open the Hood
To begin changing your air filter, you must raise the hood of your vehicle. Most vehicles have a hood release inside on the driver's side. Locate the hood release lever and pull it to unlatch your hood. Now go to the front of your vehicle, feel under the hood, and pull a second latch to release your hood fully so you can raise it up. Lock in the arm support if it has moveable support, though many vehicles are equipped with struts that automatically support the hood today.
Locate the Air Box
Once your hood is up, you can begin looking for the air box. This is typically a black plastic box with latches on top. It's where the air filter is housed, and it will have a large air hose attached to it. Look for a large box with a wide hose coming off it.
Open the Box
When you locate the air box, it's easy to open. Unclasp one or two latches and the top of the cover will come off fully, or it will open up like a door on hinges. After you open the air box, you should be able to see your air filter. Now is the time to check the health of the filter and to make a replacement if you have a new filter available.
Check Your Filter
Remove your air filter from the box and look at it in direct sunlight. If you can see light through the filter, it's probably still good enough to use. If you cannot see any light through the filter, it's likely time for a change. To double-check if the condition of your filter is still good enough to use, drop it on a hard surface a few times. You will likely see some dirt come loose from the filter. If you can now see the light through the filter, it may be good for a bit longer, but it's still a good time to replace the filter if you have a new one available.
With your airbox open, pull the old filter out and press the new one into the slot. Replacing an air filter is as simple as sliding the old one out and sliding the new one in. There is rarely a latch or clasp for you to worry about when making this replacement.
Close the Airbox and the Hood
Now that your new filter is installed, you can close the airbox and lower the hood back in position. Make sure the airbox lid latches in place firmly. Also, press down on your vehicle's hood to latch it fully so that it's safe to drive around. If you don't fully latch the hood, you will likely see a hood warning message as you begin driving around.
When to Change Air Filter in Your Car
Knowing how often to change an air filter in your car can help keep your vehicle healthy and improve your fuel efficiency as well. For most vehicle owners, you should change your filter every 15,000 miles or so. You may want to change the filter more frequently than that if you drive on dusty roads regularly.
If you really want to know how often to change your filter, you should look at it occasionally to see what sort of condition it's in. As soon as the filter is very dusty visibly, it's probably ready to be changed. Check your filter at 10,000 miles and then every few thousand miles after that until it's clear that the filter should be replaced. Note how long it took for the filter to fill up and try and follow that interval from now on to enjoy the best performance from your vehicle.
Engine Air Filter Replacement Cost
The cost of a replacement air filter varies depending on the type of vehicle you have, but you should expect to spend between $20 and $50 for most air filters. If you replace the item yourself, you won't have any additional costs to worry about. If you pay a mechanic to handle the replacement for you, you may pay another $40 to $60 to have the work done. Keep these costs in mind when going to replace your air filter, and you won't be surprised when it's time to pay for your replacement.
The Benefits of a Car Air Filter Replacement
If you fail to care for your vehicle's air filter properly, you'll enjoy better fuel efficiency, healthier sparkplugs, and a smoother operating engine.
The air filter in your vehicle is responsible for cleaning the air that travels to your engine. A dirty filter restricts airflow, which can lead to too much fuel vapor being in the cylinders and not enough oxygen. When that happens, your engine can run rough, and your sparkplugs will become dirty. Having an improper fuel and air mixture will also cause you to burn more fuel than necessary when driving. All these issues can be resolved by changing your engine air filter regularly.
Maintaining a healthy air filter is just one of the many maintenance tasks you should keep up with as a vehicle owner. If you've never changed the air filter, you should probably check yours right now and purchase a replacement as soon as possible. If you're thinking of buying a used vehicle, you should look closely at how well it's maintained. That means inspecting the health of the air filter.
Do the test on any vehicle you're thinking of buying, along with looking at the oil and the tire health, and you'll have a clue as to how well the vehicle is maintained. You can also do a vehicle history report to learn about regular maintenance visits, safety features, included amenities, and more. Caring for your own vehicle or purchasing a vehicle that's well-cared for will help you enjoy a long lifespan and reliable performance that you won't get from a vehicle that isn't cared for properly.