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A clean air filter helps keep dirt and dust from entering your engine. In doing so, it improves performance and fuel efficiency. Your driving habits affect how often you need to change out the filter, but it’s usually a good idea to check it at least once a year. This is a basic DIY repair that requires a few simple steps.
Locating the Air Filter Housing
The easiest way to find out where your air filters are is to check your owner’s manual. If you don’t have a copy, a quick search for “engine air filter replacement” with your car’s make, model, and year should produce a diagram. Depending on which air filter you want to replace, this is likely in one of two places: the engine compartment or near the glove box.
Air filter housings in the engine compartment are often recognizable and typically look like a covered box attached to a large hose. Removing the cover will reveal your filter. Many cars have cabin air filters installed behind the glove box. It usually takes a minute or two to release the locking mechanism and check the condition of your filter on these.
Removing the Old Filter
Once you’ve located the filter housing, you’ll need to access the filter inside. This usually means releasing a few retaining clips. Now you can remove the cover and the filter.
If it’s been a year or more since you’ve had a new filter installed, it’s probably time to change it. It never hurts to check more often though. Do a quick visual inspection. If you notice dirt and dust, it’s time for a new filter.
Choosing the Right Parts for Proper Fit
Finding the right parts is important to ensure proper fit and performance. The part number may be visible on your old filter, but it is more convenient to have the new one ready to go when you open up the housing.
Using a free VIN lookup makes finding the correct air filter for your car easy. Simply type your car’s VIN into the system to get a list of compatible parts. Then, you can select which one you want to use based on features and price.
Proper Installation of a New Air Filter
Once you have the correct parts, it’s time to install them in your car with a few simple steps:
- Place the new filter in the correct orientation within the housing. Some may have an arrow to show the direction of airflow, while others will not. However, most filters only fit one way if it matters.
- Reinstall the housing cover, making sure to secure any clips and checking that all hoses are back where they belong.
- For engine filters, you are done and can close the hood. If you are replacing the cabin air filter, replace the glove box and secure its locking clips.
Your car’s engine air filter should be changed regularly, especially if you typically drive in dusty conditions. Luckily, it is relatively simple to locate, inspect, and replace a filter, making it a great DIY maintenance project. Shopping at a reputable auto parts store ensures a correct fit.