The car air filter has a huge role in proper engine functioning.
This fact alone makes this knowledge seem necessary.
In this article, hopefully, you’ll learn how to do this simple job on your own.
Risk of damage is minimal, car air filters are fairly cheap to buy and the replacement itself takes a small amount of your time.
Just imagine a box with a filter inside. You’re job is to open the box remove the old air filter, put in a new one and close the box.
This should be good enough motive to try it on your own.
You also have a complete video tutorial on our You Tube channel.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE CAR AIR FILTER?
As with any air filter, the car air filter has the purpose to clean the air that goes in to the engine.
The air that the engine sucks in is full of all kinds of filth (dust, dirt, etc) which could, if not stopped, cause damage to the engine.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CHANGE THE CAR AIR FILTER ON TIME?
One main reason: if not done on time, it reduces engine performance.
This means less horsepower, lower fuel efficiency and other.
Just imagine yourself running a marathon with a cloth on your mouth and nose.
The same goes for your car. The inner combustion engine is highly dependent on proper air supply and cannot function without it.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO MAKE AN AIR FILTER REPLACEMENT?
Nothing special. Screwdriver, maybe a pair of pliers and the replacement air filter.
HOW TO FIND THE AIR FILTER HOUSING IN YOUR CAR?
The first step in order to change the car air filter is to find the air filter housing.
This is the place where the air filter “lives”.
In almost all cars it is located in an easy to access place due to the fact that it’s a car part that is frequently replaced.
In older car models you couldn’t miss it; it had a big (usually round) metal housing that sticks out from the rest of the engine.
In newer times, when plastic coverings conquered the engine bay, it’s a bit harder to find as it blends in with the rest of plastic coverings.
Since this will probably be the case in your car, locate the beginning of the air intake (where the air begins its path towards the engine).
Follow it from there and you’ll get to the air filter housing, whatever the car model may be.
There are exceptions (like the Fiat Stilo I used to own, where the air filter housing is in the front-lower part of the engine) or the Skoda Fabia mk1 1.4 petrol where the engine cover is combined with the filter housing.
These layouts tend to be more rare.
HOW TO REPLACE THE CAR AIR FILTER?
Below you’ll find the basic procedure which should apply to almost all cars.
So, once you’ve found the air filter housing follow this procedure:
Take a look at the housing. It will have a lid on it.
See what kind of lid tightening system it has (screws, clamps or else). Whatever the case, it shouldn’t be complicated to take off.
Release the lid and remove it from the air filter housing.
Under it you’ll find the air filter.
Remove the air filter from the housing.
Clean the empty filter housing with a cloth or compressed air.
Insert the new air filter in the housing.
Return the housing lid. Make sure the lid it sits in place tightly.
Reattach the clips, screws or whatever the system maybe.
If you’re new to this, take your time and have patience (especially if the housing is in a hard-to-access place).
Again, make sure that everything sits in to place (housing lid, clamps etc.) and is properly tightened.
If it’s not, it can cause problems like the check engine lamp turning on.
Here you have the video tutorial for the car air filter replacament. It’s done on a Skoda Fabia mk1 with a 1.4 petrol engine. The basic principle applies to almost all cars.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE THE AIR FILTER IN YOUR CAR?
- For new and newer cars:
Owners of new or newer cars will probably do there maintenance in a authorized dealership or garage (for the warranty, if for nothing else).
All that I can say to them is that the dealership will take care of the replacement and you shouldn’t worry yourself with this topic. Useful thing to know is the newer generation cars have a significantly prolonged interval of air filter replacement.
- Used cars:
There are basically two opinions :
- Do the replacement every second oil change (about 20000-30000 km/12000-19000 miles)
- Do the air filter replacement every oil change (about 10000-15000 km/6000-9000 miles).
Of course this varies mostly on the condition of the engine, what kind of roads you drive on, quality of the air filter etc.
Since it’s not that much of an expense, I would advise to change it with every oil change. It’s both simple to do and doesn’t cost much money but it means the world to the engine.
If you decide not to, at least make an inspection of the car air filter during every oil change (clean the air filter if you’re not replacing it).
WHAT PROBLEMS CAN YOU ENCOUNTER WHEN REPLACING THE AIR FILTER?
Not much. As mentioned, this is a simple procedure with minimal risk of damage.
Most problems can cause air filter housings that are hard to access (which is pretty rare) and parts of the intake that are connected to the filter housing (various hoses, holders etc.).
These cases involve you having to do the replacement from the underside of the car and paying more attention to removing the intake hoses and clamps. A bit more inconvenient but it can be done.
WHAT IS THE COST OF A CAR AIR FILTER REPLACEMENT?
In mid class cars it can range from 5 to 20 Euros, all depending on the manufacturer and car type (at least this is the case in my country).
More expensive car air filters usually mean better quality. Also, if you drive a rarer car model, this can also boost the price.
Whatever the case, it’s more or less affordable and not that much of a fuss to buy.
I would recommend buying from more known manufacturers with better quality build. They cost more money, but it all pays off in the long run (extended replacement interval and better protection of the air intake).
Exceptions from this are high performance air filters (race cars, tuned cars, luxury cars etc) which cost significantly more money.
In this group are also air filters for old timers. Due to the lack of supply, they usually need to be custom made for the car. This of course, means more money.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE PROPER REPLACEMENT FILTER?
These cases are rare due to the abundance of car parts in almost every market in the world.
But as we’ve mentioned in the case of old timers and performance cars there can be exceptions.
In this case, if the air filter is not to too used or damaged, follow the same procedure as if you have a new one.
The only difference is, once you get the air filter out, used compressed air and give it a good cleaning.
Bend the filter so the “ribs” open apart. Then used compressed air and blow out all of the dust, dirt and filth outside.
It’s a temporary measure but it will do for some time.