Is Engine Air Filter Change Necessary? A Comprehensive Guide

Learn everything about engine air filters: from how often they should be changed and why they are important for your car's performance; to how they can be inspected and replaced.

Is Engine Air Filter Change Necessary? A Comprehensive Guide

Today, most automakers recommend that the engine air filter be inspected regularly, but that it be replaced only when necessary or at extended intervals. More frequent replacement wastes money without providing any real benefit. If you can't tell by looking, but it's been more than three years or 30,000 miles, you should probably buy a new one (especially if you can save money doing it yourself). However, you should be careful if every time you change the oil, the repair shop says you also need a new air filter. We expect drivers in most cases to spend more than a year, at least, and probably more than two years between air filter changes, depending on conditions and mileage.

A general rule of thumb is to keep track of how long the air filter has been in place. The recommended average length of service is approximately 10,000 to 15,000 miles, which for most people is approximately every year. But keep in mind that, as with most things related to your car, this is just a recommendation and doesn't take into account your individual driving situation. How often you change your car's air filter depends on how often you drive. Generally speaking, you should replace it every 30,000 miles.

A good rule of thumb is to inspect your air filter (or ask a mechanic to do it for you) at least once a year. If the filter is covered with dirt or is full of insects, leaves, or other debris, it's time to use a new one. If there is only a little dirt on the surface or only in one area, it's probably good to go longer. Try brushing dirt off the surface and rotating the filter 180 degrees to expose the cleaned area to the main airflow. If a clogged filter reduces the amount of air entering, those controls reduce the amount of fuel accordingly to maintain the proper mix of driving, emissions and other factors.

Air filters usually live in a rectangular housing at the front of the engine that will be easy to find and reach. The test simulated clogging by covering air filters with shop cloths, severely restricting airflow, and the DOE concluded that the reduced flow “did not have a significant effect on fuel economy, using federal fuel economy test procedures. In most cars, the cabin air filter is usually placed behind the glove compartment or under the dashboard. Be sure to monitor your air filter and replace it when you start to notice signs that it is clogged, and keep your car in perfect condition for as long as possible. Some manufacturers of newer car models have changed the engine design to make more efficient use of space, and sometimes that means placing air filters in harder to reach places, which can slow down the process. An independent test of a Subaru Crosstrek found that a performance filter added 4 horsepower (just over 2%) compared to an original equipment filter and improved its acceleration from 20-60 mph by 0.2 seconds of gain that would probably not be noticeable in everyday driving. You can visually check the engine air filter to see if it looks dirty or if it is full of debris.

Over time, as dust and dirt build up, the air filter will darken and dirt will be noticeable. If you are coughing and sputtering, or if you vibrate excessively when you turn the engine, you are most likely ordering a new air filter. Cabin air filters tend to get dirty faster than engine air filters and need to be replaced more often. By providing clean air flow to the engine, an air cleaner ensures that the engine receives the correct amount of air needed to operate at its maximum level. However, engines rely on clean, good airflow to produce power and rapid acceleration, so restricting the amount of air will definitely affect performance.

If you drive with a lot of traffic on a regular basis, the air filter won't last as long. In this article we have discussed everything related to engine air filters: from how often they should be changed and why they are important for your car's performance; to how they can be inspected and replaced. We hope this guide has been helpful in understanding when it's time for an engine air filter change and why it's important for your car's health.