Your car's air filter is designed to keep your engine clean from the dirt and other nasty particles in the air sucked in for combustion. It’s important that you swap out the filter before it gets too clogged up so that your engine can run more efficiently, and so that it remains protected over time. A blocked air filter can cost you as much as 10% in fuel efficiency. A few minutes spent on a DIY air filter change can save you big, now and later.
When Should You Change the Filter?
And air filter should be replaced about once a year in standard driving conditions, or around every 15,000 miles. The easiest way to make sure that your filter is OK is to open up your hood, remove the filter and have a good look at it. If it’s clogged up with dirt and grime, it's time for a new one. If it still looks fresh, you can probably wait a while longer before making the change. A quick test that you can do with a filter is to shine a light through it in a dark room. If the light passes through the filter, then it is still good. If the light is obscured, the filter is too clogged up. After this quick test, you’ll know whether to make the change or not every single time.
Making the Swap
Changing out an air filter is one of the fastest maintenance jobs that you’ll ever complete. The process is as follows. Find the black box that houses the filter. It’s typically made from plastic and at the top of the engine, or at the front of your engine bay.
Open up the clips that are keeping this box closed. Usually, they are designed so that you can remove them with your hands. Open the box and locate the accordion-style filter. Examine the filter carefully and, if it’s in poor shape, slide a new filter in its place. Close the box, secure the clips and you're done.
You can cut your filter replacement cost in half when you do the job yourself, and it’s something that you can complete quickly and easily. That’s why it makes so much sense to perform this maintenance on your own.
If you aren’t sure where the filter is located, or you’re having difficulty opening up the casing, you can often find tutorials online about your particular vehicle. If all else fails, you can probably get a family member or even a garage to show you where the filter is located.
Check on the filter often, and make sure that it remains in good shape to get the best performance out of your vehicle. It’s a simple thing to do, and something essential to the health of your engine. Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's not important. With a little practice, you can probably get your filter checked in the amount of time it takes you to pump your gas. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone and get more miles out of your tank and out of your engine.