dual air filters

Everything You Want to Know about Car Air Filters

Your car’s air filter needs to operate correctly or your car won’t perform in the way the automaker intended. That’s why you must replace your car air filter occasionally and prolong the life of your vehicle.

car air filter

What’s the Purpose of the Car’s Air Filters?

Your engine air filter prevents harmful dirt, contaminants and debris from entering your engine. It’s not to be confused with the cabin air filter which didn’t appear until 2002.

Air gets sucked into your engine and it can’t be dirty. Otherwise, you face contamination or engine damage. The air filter acts as a main line of defense against particulate matter that wants to make its way into the engine.

Having a properly running and clean engine increases the vehicle’s fuel economy. By filtering the incoming air, the engine filter ensures that the air burned is clean. This purified air ignites faster and more efficiently in the cylinder which leads to better gas mileage.

What’s the Cost to Replace the Air Filters?

The cost to install an engine air filter depends on what make and model you drive. Generally, replacing a car air filter ranges anywhere from $25 to $50.Of course, if you can do the job yourself, you would save yourself $15-$30 of that on labor costs.

dual air filters

Symptoms of a Bad Air Filter

When a filter is old and ready to be changed, you’ll notice some signs alerting you to the problem. As your engine air filter builds up with dirt, the vehicle performance declines. Here are some of the main symptoms to watch for:

  • Lowered fuel economy as the filter becomes dirtier.
  • Decrease in power or performance.
  • Decrease in throttle response.
  • Weaker acceleration.
  • Increase in engine wear

Consider how any filter hinders the performance of the item it protects. When the automotive or household filter gets contaminated, it’s no longer useful. Its ability to enhance performance is hindered and it’s no longer capable of providing protection.

So is the case with your engine air filter. As the system becomes dirtier, the engine must work harder. That’s what causes the drop in fuel economy and an increase in emissions. You’ll also see a loss of engine power when you step on the gas.

By replacing your car’s air filter regularly, you prolong the life of your engine and you increase overall performance.

How Often Should You Change the Car Air Filter?

Most automakers recommend changing the air filter every 12,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first. Of course, there are exceptions to this, so you’ll want to check your owner’s manual for the recommended time frame.

If you live in a region that encounters a lot of dust, or you spend time off-road, you might need to replace this filter more often.

If you take your car to a quick lube, it’s possible that they will convince you to change your air filter more often. This is a common tactic and another reason that changing your own is a good idea. There’s no reason to replace parts that don’t need to be changed.

high performance engine air filter

What are the Benefits of Replacing the Air Filter?

There are numerous benefits to replacing your car air filter – making it far worth the small expense you’ll pay. Most importantly, the clean air filter protects your vital car components by keeping out the harmful debris.

Your engine is a powerful and significant piece of equipment, but small pieces of debris can destroy it. Over time, these particles lead to severe damage to the internal parts. It’s far better to spend $10 every year than thousands on a new engine down the road.

Changing your car air filter also saves you money at the gas pump. Filters keep your car running efficiently. The cleaner the filter is, the more airflow you receive through the system. Just like with a clogged drain, your dirty filter starves the engine of vital air making it harder to work properly.

That’s why it also helps your performance to have a clean air filter. In fact, estimates figure that changing out an old and dirty air filter might increase acceleration over 10%. If you upgrade to a performance car air filter, you’ll see even more gains.

Finally, the clean air filter keeps your emissions at their lowest. A reduction in air flow messes with your emission control system and causes you to release more harmful contaminants into the atmosphere. Do your part for the environment by changing your air filter on a regular basis.

air filter housing

How Do You Change the Engine Air Filter?

You don’t need to pay a mechanic to change your engine air filter, even if you aren’t mechanically inclined. The job is simple and only takes a few minutes.

The first step is to ensure you have the right air filter. Check with your local parts store or check your existing filter to see if there’s a part number.

Next, you want to open your car hood and find the air filter housing. Most of them are located on the engine or along the side. Check your service manual if you have trouble finding it.

Once you’ve located the housing, you can take the top off. This doesn’t typically require the use of any tools.

Remove the old filter. It is probably dirty and dusty, which is the exact reason you needed to change it. Then, install the new filter and replace the housing.

See how simple that was! It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase performance and extend the length of your engine.

car air conditioning vents

Difference Between Engine Air Filters and Cabin Filters

While talking about engine air filters, it’s crucial you don’t confuse them with your cabin air filters. These have been installed in vehicles since 2002 and have a completely different purpose. They are similar in function to your home HVAC filters because they remove pollutant particulates from your cabin air. Otherwise, you and your passengers are susceptible to breathing in bacteria, mold spores, road dust, exhaust fumes and dust mites.

You need to change your cabin air filters every 30,000 miles to improve the quality of air in your vehicle. This also enhances the flow through your heating and air conditioning system. Many people notice that newer air filters eliminate stale, musty odors as well.

Final Thoughts

With the automobile, you have many maintenance aspects to consider on a regular basis. From changing the oil to topping off the fluids, each one has its own purpose in extending the life of your vehicle. One of the most straightforward tasks you can perform is to change the engine air filter. This not only protects your engine but increases fuel economy and performance. For the low-cost and ease of replacement, there’s no reason to procrastinate with this simple task. Let your engine breath the way it was meant to.

Get a replacement air filter for your car here.


About Nishal Singh

Car enthusiast since before I could drive.

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