Car Care - Changing Your Air Filter


Your engine is literally an air-sucking machine. No, really. Without air, your engine would die. Without air, your engine could not burn fuel. Without the ability to burn fuel, you go nowhere.

So it's vitally important to have a clean air filter so that the air coming into your engine in your car, truck, SUV or van is therefore clean and free of contaminants.

Clean air coming into your engine also means better fuel economy, better performance, and more power.

To monitor the condition of your air filter, check the air filter service indicator, if your vehicle is equipped with one. (You definitely have one if you have a diesel air intake.) This automatically tells you when to change your air filter.

In the absence of an indicator, reference your owner's manual. Many manufacturers recommend changing your air filter every 30,000 miles. But you may end up changing it more often under heavy-duty usage or in dusty conditions.

Here are some simple instructions so that you can save money by allowing you to change the air filter yourself.

Remember: every cold air intake system is slightly different; become familiar with yours. Do not try to force off air boxes or tubes. Check to see if you have removed all fasteners, clamps, and hoses first before taking anything apart. Parts should come off easily. Do not force parts loose; you may risk breaking the part and injuring yourself.

Caution: do not drink alcohol, smoke, or wear clothing like a necktie that could become entangled in moving parts. Beware of hot surfaces, sharp objects, and potentially harmful or poisonous materials in the work area. Always wear a dust mask, safety glasses, and latex gloves when working.

Consult a repair manual or your owner's manual to locate the cold air intake system on your engine. Unfasten all clips, clamps, hold-downs, fasteners, and hoses. Carefully remove the air box cover. Remove the used air filter. Discard old filter properly.

Clean the air box with a rag or slightly damp cloth, making sure the box is free of debris, dust and dirt. Install the new air filter into the air box (clean the filter and install if it is washable). Reinstall the air box cover. Re-attach all hoses and fasteners you removed previously. Job complete.

It is also helpful to know the location of the master airflow sensor on your truck, car, van or SUV. Knowing this will allow you to perform periodic do-it-yourself mass airflow sensor cleaning. This will help you avoid failure of this important component and help save money, too.

Another money-saving tip is to switch to a cleanable air filter. Although perhaps a little more expensive initially, using a cleanable, reusable filter will save you money in the long run. Using a reusable air filter also helps the environment by keeping used filters out of landfills and by helping to save the energy needed to continually manufacture new filters.