How Often Should You Change Engine Air Filter?

The engine air filter is responsible for helping your engine remain clean, removing dust and dirt particles that may enter the area around the engine. 

An unclean engine air filter can result in problems with ignition and reduced gas mileage.

Making sure your engine filter is working properly is therefore extremely important for your car to run optimally and recognizing when the filter needs cleaning is essential.

Engine Air Filter

How often should you change your engine air filter?

In general, the engine air filter in your vehicle should be changed relatively often. There are several factors to consider before deciding how often to change engine air filter.

The model of your vehicle, the year it was made, and how and where you drive all impact how regularly you should replace your engine filter.

If you live somewhere that is hot with generally more polluted air then you might expect to have to change the filter more often than someone driving in a colder climate with clean air.

The best way to check how often you should be replacing the engine air filters in your car is to search through your manual specific to your car and find the maintenance section.

Here you will find the recommended number of times you should be replacing your engine air filter which can vary quite largely.

For those driving in more severe conditions, the number of miles you can drive before you should change the engine filter might be around 15,000 miles.

This can increase to almost 45,000 miles if driving conditions are not as harsh.

If you cannot find your owner’s manual you will be able to find a copy on the internet, simply type in your car model and search for the specific manual.

Purpose of the engine air filter in a car

Unlike cabin air filters, which allow those within the vehicle to breathe fresh air, the engine air filters mainly function to clean the air before it enters the car engine where it is burned with fuel to enable combustion.

The air being sucked into the car engine has to be filtered and cleaned so that there isn’t any contamination.

If the air being used by the car’s engine is dirty, it can cause damage to the engine reducing the efficiency and operating ability of the engine.

An air filter that has been installed and is functioning properly will improve the engine performance and increase gas mileage.

Clean air ignites more rapidly in the cylinders of the engine which improves the capacity for combustion resulting in better fuel economy.

A dirty air filter will also reduce the flow of air into the engine making it more difficult for the engine to utilize the air for combustion reducing its performance.

Where is the engine air filter located?

Engine air filters are most commonly found under the hood, at the front of the engine compartment in the cold air collector box.

You should then be able to open the filter box by unlocking the latches or handle using your hands.

A screwdriver may be required to access the filter if screws are needing to be removed.

Once you have accessed the air filter, it can be taken out with ease as it shouldn’t be stuck down.

Signs your engine air filter needs replacement

For car engines to work optimally, they need both fuel and an adequate air supply. The air filter prevents dirt and other environmental contaminants from entering the engine space.

If the filter becomes clogged with dust, the air supply is reduced which can hinder the engine’s ability to work properly.

This is why is extremely important to make sure that the air filter remains clean and capable of supplying a steady influx of clean air.

Here we will go through some of the signs that might suggest you need to replace your engine air filter:

Strange engine sounds

If you start hearing irregular engine sounds such as popping or spotting sounds then this could be an indicator that your engine is struggling to work properly as a result of contaminants in the engine or reduced airflow.

A dirty filter

The best way to check if your air filters need to be replaced is to have a look at the air filter and if it looks dirty and clogged up then this is a good indication that it should be changed.

Engine light

The presence of a flashing engine light can be an indication of several problems with the vehicle. One of which may be that your engine is not receiving enough air to function properly.

Make sure to check the air filter to rule this out as a reason for the engine light being on.

Poor performance

As the owner of the vehicle, you should have a good idea about how the car should run normally.

If you start to notice a decline in the car’s performance then this may be a result of the air filter not functioning effectively.

Reduced fuel economy

When a car doesn’t receive adequate air supply, it will compensate by using up more fuel.

This will result in a reduced fuel economy and you will find yourself having to fill up your tank more often than usual.

How Often Should You Change Engine Air Filter

How to change an engine air filter

  • If you think your air filter needs replacing but are not sure how to go about it then do not worry.
  • Here we will give you a step-by-step tutorial that will walk you through the process that is easy to follow.

Tools and equipment needed

  • New air filter
  • Screwdriver (if necessary)
  • Vacuum cleaner

Step 1

Changing air filters in cars is pretty simple. First, you need to purchase a new engine air filter, so check the owner’s manual to see the type of filter that will fit your vehicle and purchase it.

Step 2

Next, you want to open your hood and find an air filter. Most engine air filters are located in the airbox which usually has a big hose attached to the side of it.

Step 3

Open the air filter box using your hands to unlock the clasps or use a screwdriver if necessary. You then want to remove the old dirty air filter and give the surrounding area a quick vacuum.

Step 4

Finally, you want to replace the old filter with your new engine air filter, making sure it fits properly into the box. Close the latches and that’s you done!

Benefits of changing the air filter in a car

Replacing your old air filter with a new one has several benefits including more efficient gas mileage, improved engine performance, and reduced emissions and it also prolongs the engine’s life.

Better gas mileage

By replacing your air filter with a new air filter regularly, you will get better gas mileage from your vehicle as the engine will be able to function properly with a constant adequate supply of clean air allowing it to burn less fuel, increasing gas mileage.

Increased engine performance

A clogged filter will reduce your engine’s ability to mix clean air with fuel for combustion which results in reduced engine performance.

A clean filter will allow the engine to function optimally, increasing the overall engine performance.

Reduced emissions

The car air filter needs to be working properly otherwise the engine will need to use more fuel for proper combustion resulting in increased fuel consumption and emissions.

Prolongs engine’s life

If the filter for the engine becomes clogged and dirty, this can lead to contaminants entering the engine.

This can damage the engine’s ability to work properly, reducing the life of the engine leading to an expensive cost to replace the entire system.

What happens if you don’t change the engine air filter?

When you don’t replace your air filter regularly, it will become dirty and clogged up. This will lead to reduced airflow into the engine with contaminated air reaching the engine system.

Over time this will lead to reduced engine performance as it will struggle to mix fuel with the reduced air supply effectively.

The result will be worse gas mileage and increased emissions and eventually, the engine may become damaged with prolonged exposure to contaminants leading to a costly fix at the garage or even a full replacement of the engine.

Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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