Replacing Your Car’s Air Filter: A Simple Car Repair For Novice Mechanics


Replacing your vehicle’s air filter is a task that should be completed around the same timeframe as your frequent oil changes, however if do decide to ask the mechanic to replace your air filter when you take your car in for the routine oil change then you will probably be paying a good bit more for it than if you decided to do it yourself. 

The mechanic likely won’t mention this either, they’ll just tell you that it needs to be replaced and then the bill will jump from $30 for the oil change to $75 for both the oil change and the air filter replacement. You’re paying for the labor hours and the part though the labor is far more expensive than the filter which won’t cost more than $10. 

You may think that this is a complicated maintenance item based off of what the mechanic charges you for in terms of labor hours but the act of replacing the filter is simple enough that just about anyone can do it. 

It may even be the most simple maintenance item that is done on a vehicle. It will take you under ten minutes to change it out and take the time to walk to the garbage and dispose of the old one. You don’t need any special tools or even a mechanical education to accomplish this, so tell the mechanic no about the air filter at your next oil change and simply follow our instructions below. 

What Does An Air Filter Do For Your Car Exactly

The engine of your car takes in air to mix with the fuel. Without air, the vehicle can’t make the controlled explosions to propel the car forward. The gas mixes with the air and is lit by the spark plugs. The air filter is, as you may have guessed, responsible for filtering the air. This is an important job, because as powerful as your engine is, it can also be incredibly fragile and prone to breaks if it becomes contaminated.

If the air that enters into your engine has dust or dirt particles, it can over time be really damaging to your engine block. The air filter will remove all the pollen, salt, leaves and insects that could be contaminating the air getting pulled into your car.

The air filter is attached to the air intake manifold of your engine block, the air filter is similar to one you will find in your home, it is made of a light and porous paper. The filter lets the air through but traps the contaminants within it.

Why Do You Need to Change Your Air Filter Regularly?

There are several reasons that you should regularly change your air filter. As we’ve just discussed, the air filter ensures the air getting fed into your engine block is free of contaminants to keep the engine healthy. As the filter becomes clogged over time (as it should if it is doing its job) it will struggle to pass air through it as efficiently. This can lead to some problems, but replacing the filter will quickly fix that. 

  1. Better Fuel Efficiency
  2. Healthy Emissions
  3. Preventing Premature Engine Breaks

Better Fuel Efficiency: As we already stated the fuel filter becomes clogged over time and limits the air that the engine gets. The engine uses this air to make the controlled explosions that propel the car forward. If the car doesn’t get enough air, it can’t mix properly the balance of oxygen to fuel ratio and it will burn more fuel than necessary. Save yourself money by replacing your 

Increased fuel efficiency. After logging thousands of miles on your car, that filter can get really dirty and clogged. A dirty air filter doesn’t allow air to get through to the engine. Remember, your engine needs air to run efficiently. A reduced amount of air means your engine needs to use more fuel to get the same bang to run your engine.  Save yourself some money at the pump. Change your air filter regularly.

Healthy Emissions: Similarly to your fuel efficiency, a reduction in air intake can also mess with what your car puts out. You can help to lessen your carbon footprint by regularly replacing your filter. 

Premature Engine Break Prevention: If your filter is clogged it is putting stress on your engine block by not giving it enough air. If your filter is compromised and is letting contaminants through this is a very quick way to cause an engine break. A $15 dollar filter is going to be far less costly than replacing a component of your engine. 

How Frequently Should An Air Filter Be Changed?

The air filter for most vehicles should be changed once per year or every 10,000 miles. If you drive more than the average individuals or if you live in a desert climate consider changing your car twice per year. The repair is so easy and cheap to make that you can spare the $20 and 5 minutes per year to switch it out every 6 months. Check your owner’s manual for specifics on when to change your air filter for your make and model.

Steps To Changing Your Air Filter

Step 1: Buying The Proper Air Filter

This is really the only thing that you could possibly make a mess of. Air filters come in all types of shapes and sizes to fit the many vehicles on the market. If you are unsure of what air filter your car takes you should check your owner’s manual or check your existing air filter for indications on what type it is. You can also do a quick google search or just wander into an auto parts store and have the attendant help you find the right one. They have a huge database that they can use to find any part your car needs, including the air filter

Step 2: Pop The Hood

When you are in a location you deem fit to make this minor repair, pop the hood of your car. For the extreme novices, the button to do this is located to the bottom left of your steering wheel. After opening and securing the hood of the car, locate the air filter box. This will likely be a plastic box which sits on the top or the side of your engine. It will have a hose sticking out to one side which is an air intake. 

Step 3: Remove The Used Filter

Now open the air filter box that you located. Inside you will find the used filter which will likely be secured with some form of clip. Gently remove the clip or securing device and remove the dirty air filter. 

Step 4: Check Over The Old Filter

If the filter is clearly full of gunk and dirt, then it is time to replace it. 

Step 5: Replace The Filter

As simple as it was to remove the last filter, it is just as much an ease to replace the old with the new. Carefully slide the filter in where the old one sat and resecure the clips. 

That is it. Close the engine compartment and you are good to go. The easiest fix that anyone could make on their vehicle. You are fully capable of making the fix yourself. You got this! Perhaps in the future you can consider changing out your oil next? 

Need Help Fixing Your Repairs?

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We hope this article has answered all of your questions regarding replacing your air filter, and that you feel more prepared to take control of your car repairs both now and in the future. Consider protecting your vehicle with an extended warranty plan from Protect My Car. In addition to warranties, Protect My Car also offers insurance and maintenance plans and can negotiate the best prices on repairs with mechanic

About Protect My Car

Protect My Car is an extended auto warranty company. Our goal here at Protect My Car is to eliminate your worry of being financially responsible for an expensive mechanical breakdown. With our extended auto warranty, you don’t have to worry about being fully burdened with the cost of a covered repair.

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