Change Your Air Filter

Your car needs air just as much as it needs fuel; air filters keep the inside of the engine free of dust and insects. Replace or clean your air filter at the recommended interval to keep air flowing freely and your car running its best. Air filters are inexpensive and quick to replace, so you can do this routine maintenance yourself.


  1. Obtain the correct replacement filter. If you need assistance finding the correct filter, an auto parts store or its website can help you identify the correct filter that fits your vehicle's airbox. Try to get the stock filter that comes with your vehicle to get the most engine life and fuel efficiency out of your vehicle.
  2. Secure the vehicle. Park the car on level ground and apply the parking brake. Shift into first gear (manual transmission) or Park (automatic transmission), and turn off the ignition.
  3. [Open the Hood of a Vehicle|Open the bonnet]] (hood). Release the bonnet with the lever inside the car. Move the exterior bonnet catch for final release. Lift the bonnet and secure it with the prop rod (if necessary).
  4. Locate the air box. The air box housing is usually situated near the engine along a duct that travels from the front of the car.
    • On older cars with carburetors the filter is usually under a bulky, round cover made of plastic or metal.
    • Newer, fuel-injected cars tend to have a square or rectangular air filter housing can be found slightly off centre between the front grill and the engine.
  5. Remove the air filter cover. Loosen the hose clamp that seals the air conduct. Undo all the screws holding the air filter cover. Some models have wing nuts; other air filters are just clamped on with a quick release system. Keep screws and other parts together and in a safe location so you can find them later. Pull the cover out of the air conduit and lift it up so it comes off the lower part of the housing. Consult a mechanic if you don't know how to lift the cover.
  6. Take out the air filter. Now you can see a round or rectangular filter made of cotton, paper or gauze. Filters have a rubber rim that seals off the unit's interior. Simply lift the filter out of the housing.
  7. Clean the air filter housing.Connect the air hose to the compressor and use the compressed air to blow out the dust, or use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any dirt.
    • Seal the air conduit with removable adhesive tape. It only takes a minute and that way you won't get any dirt into the engine whilst cleaning.
  8. Replace the filter. Replace the old filter with a new one. Simply insert it into the housing with the rubber rim facing up. Make sure the edges are sealed by the rubber rim.
  9. Replace the cover. Carefully insert the cover back into the air conduit and then press the entire piece down onto the lower half of the air filter unit.
    • Make sure it's on straight and securely; otherwise you could alter engine performance. Tighten all the screws or clamps and recheck that you have put everything firmly back together by rocking the unit gently with both hands. Shut the bonnet securely.
  10. Check the filter regularly to keep your car breathing at maximum efficiency by keeping the dust out.
  11. Change the filter every 50,000 km (30,000 miles), or about once a year. If you drive in a dusty area, it will need replacement more often. Your owner's manual or periodic maintenance guide should have recommendations for your car.


  • Certain four-wheel drive and performance vehicles may have an oil soaked filter in addition to or instead of a dry filter element. Consult a service manual for your car if you think you have one of these. Oil-soaked filters, if they are designed for reuse, may be cleaned and fresh oil applied. Visit an auto parts store for a filter cleaning kit with the appropriate cleaner and replacement oil.
  • You can clean the old filter as long as the material isn't torn, cracked or oil stained. Use a light to check if it is oily inside. Hold a lamp behind it and see if the light gets blocked out by oil. Proceed if the light can be seen. Now blow out the dust with compressed air if you have it, or else vacuum it up. Turn the air filter around to clean both sides. If you choose to clean the filter, you can put the filter back in this time, but buy yourself a new filter soon and change at the next check.
  • Still not sure exactly what your air filter looks like, where it is, what replacement part to use, or how to get the cover off? if it's not in your owner's manual, see if you can find a copy of the maintenance manual for your car. It's different from the owner's manual. A few are online, or you can purchase the one for your car or check your local public library.
  • Make sure it's secure! Or else your car will not accelerate properly which is extremely unsafe and frightening to happen while driving.


  • Turn off the engine while working on it. Remember that certain parts of the engine may be hot if you have been running the car.
  • Make sure that you properly secure the vehicle.
  • If for some reason you must work underneath the vehicle, make sure it is securely and properly supported.

Things You'll Need

  • a new air filter/ specifications as recommended by the manufacturer
  • a flat screwdriver
  • a Phillips screwdriver
  • a compressor air valve w/hose
  • an eye protector

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Sources and Citations

  • - Original source of this article. Shared with permission.