How Often Should My Engine Air Filter be Replaced?

Change Your Air Filter
arthritic_old_man, Flickr

If you never thought of your car as a living, breathing thing then this blog post might change your mind about that. For example, did you know that your car needs to breathe clean air in order to operate efficiently? It’s true. Without that air, you’re going to spend more money at the pump and your car’s engine will perform poorly.

Understanding How Your Car Engine Operations.

Your engine operates on a mix of fuel and air. Oxygen is what makes fuel burn so that it can power your engine. But there’s a small catch. The air has to be clean – otherwise, you can get all sorts of dirt and debris into your engine. That’s no good. A dirty engine is an engine not long for the earth. The solution? An air filter, which keeps the majority of particulates (up to 99 percent) out of your engine.

What Happens When You Don’t Replace Your Air Filter?

Car engines don’t just need air. They need a certain amount of it. They’re built to require a specific ratio of air to fuel in order for their engines to run properly. If your engine’s not getting enough clear air – as can happen when your air filter is either clogged up or isn’t filtering properly – this can strain and damage your engine.

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When Should You Replace Your Air Filter?

Knowing when to replace your engine’s air filter can be as easy as eyeballing it to see if it looks dirty. This isn’t always a scientific method, though, and a lot of shops will recommend that you change your air filter every time you change your oil – which some experts say is excessive. For a good guide, check your owner’s manual. Usually, manufacturers recommend changing your engine air filter every 60,000 miles or every few years, whichever comes first.

Exceptions to the Rule

Knowing when to change your engine air filter also greatly depends on how you use your car and where you live. Here are a few rules of thumb that could cause you to have your air filter changed either more frequently or less frequently.

  • If you live in a dry or dusty area, you may need to change your air filter early.
  • Do you drive infrequently? If so, you may be able to get away with going a lot longer between changes.
  • If you’re a traveling salesperson or rack up a crazy amount of miles per year, you may need to pay a visit to a mechanic more frequently to have that filter swapped out.

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