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How to Change Air Filters in a Car – What You Need to Know

How to Change Air Filters in a Car – What You Need to Know

How to Change Air Filters in a Car – What You Need to Know

Learning how to change air filters in a car might not be your idea of fun, but it can be an excellent way to save money. It’s usually easy, though some car brands may make it a bit more challenging.

Typically, when you get the oil changed in your vehicle, you have to option of changing the air filter. You may think it’s part of the deal, but it can sometimes cost just as much as the oil change to finish it.

The air filter itself is quite inexpensive. Your mechanic or quick-lube shop charges you much more because of the labor involved. Most people believe that it’s complicated to change their air filters and requires special tools, but that’s not the case!

In fact, changing an air filter in the car is probably the simplest and easiest maintenance task you can do yourself. It takes a minute to do and doesn’t require special tools. You just need to know how to do it, and this guide can help!

What Your Air Filter Does

Engines need air to run. The air ends up mixing with the gas, gives the spark plug the spark, and you’ve got combustion. For the engine to run smoothly, the air should be clean as it goes inside. However, outside air is full of bad things like salt, pollen, bird feathers, and dirt. That stuff can’t go inside the engine, so the filter removes them.

Typically, the air filters are connected to the intake manifold and are rectangular. They’re often made to look like an accordion and feature paper-like material. This filter keeps particles from getting into the engine and letting clean air inside.

Why Change the Air Filter Regularly

There are many reasons to change your car’s air filter, such as:

  • Reduced Emissions – When there’s reduced airflow, it can mess up the emission control systems. That means you’re putting out more bad things into the air.
  • Prolong the Engine Life – Engines are powerful, but they’re quite sensitive to dust and dirt. With time, those particles can cause significant damage to the internal components of the engine. It’s always better to spend a few dollars now to get a new air filter than thousands of dollars for a new engine.
  • Better Fuel Efficiency – After many thousands of miles on the car, your air filter can get clogged. That means less air can get to the engine. All engines require air to work correctly, so any reduction in airflow means you’re using more fuel to run the same motor. Save money now and change the air filter regularly.

How Often to Change the Air Filter

Most mechanics recommend people change their air filters once a year or every 12,000 miles. Those who live in dusty locations may want to do this more frequently. Typically, it’s a good idea to check the air filter whenever you get an oil change. The mechanic automatically does that for you, and when they say it’s time for a new one, say you’re going to wait. Then, you can do it yourself and save a lot of money!

Steps for How to Change Air Filters in a Car

  1. Buy the air filter.

Most air filters are cheap and cost anywhere from $10 to $13 for a new one. Visit your local auto parts store to grab one or shop online at PartsMax Auto Parts Warehouse.

It’s also easy to decide which air filter you need. Just grab the owner’s manual out of the glovebox or search for your make/model/year online. If you don’t want to go through all the hassle, the auto parts shop can help you.

There’s usually a book you can grab and look up the air filter, or you can talk to the friendly professionals and ask what you need.

  1. Open the hood and find the air filter box.

Once you have your air filter, pop the hood and open it. Look for a black box sitting at the top or on the side of the engine. It usually has a huge hose sticking out from the side.

  1. Open the box and remove the old air filter.

Open the air filter box by unclasping those big metal clips holding it down and remove the cover.

  1. Check the air filter.

Take out the dirty filter and look at it. There are folds at regularly spaced intervals, so make sure you check in them. If you see a lot of dirt, it’s time for a replacement.

  1. Install the new air filter.

Take the new air filter out of its box and put it in the filter box. Ensure that it’s sitting snugly inside, and then close the box top. Snap on the clips, and you’re done! 


Now that you’ve seen all the steps it takes to change the air filter in your car, you probably aren’t going to have the quick-lube shop do it for you again. It’s easy to figure out for yourself, and you can find various air filter brands for different cars at PartsMax Auto Parts Warehouse!