Chaya standing in from of a car with an open hood with a dirt air filter in her hand

How to Change Your Own Air Filter and What it Even Does

Have you ever wondered what maintenance you can do yourself? Today, I would like to share with you one simple way you can save anywhere from $20 to $50 and more depending on your car. Changing your own air filter takes less than five minutes on most cars and requires minimal tools.

While I don’t recommend usually doing much “DIY” when it comes to taking care of your car, some things are straightforward and hard to cause any catastrophic damage.

dirty vs clean engine air filter
Dirty vs Clean Air Filter

What Does Your Air Filter Do?

For every gallon of gas your car uses, it also uses a whole boatload of air. All of that air gets filtered through the humble air filter. The air filter traps pollen, dirt and contaminants, preventing them from damaging your engine.  It’s a simple yet crucial part of the car’s system and preventative maintenance.

Why Bother Replacing It?

Your car needs to use a very specific mixture of air and fuel to operate the engine correctly. While replacing your air filter won’t make a huge difference in your fuel economy (it might have some effect, though), a dirty clogged filter will affect your engine’s performance eventually. It may even, in extreme circumstances, cause your engine to overheat when the ratio is way off.

Engine air filter and cabin filter
Engine Air Filter + Cabin Filter

When Should You Change It?

First place to look to determine how often you need to change your air filter is your owner’s manual. Your owner’s manual has a maintenance schedule that clearly indicates how often it should be changed.

While this is the guide and you shouldn’t wait longer than that, you may need to change it sooner than later. Checking it every year or so is a good bet.

If you live near a construction zone or a heavily polluted city, you may need to do it more often. When I lived in New York City, I replaced it every 15,000 miles or so.

Auto Parts Store
Auto Parts Store

Buying the Filter

First off, start by buying the right filter for your car. Visit a parts website, where you will input the year, make and model of your car as well as the engine size, to start your search. If you are at the store, a parts salesperson will be able to easily assist you. Usually the air filter itself costs in the range of $10-15, but can run about $40-90 to replace it at the shop.

Now it’s Time to Change it:

My video shows you how to replace a filter in general, and my car specifically. It’s an outline and good place to start, giving you the confidence in the simplicity of it. You may want to look up a similar video on how to do it for your car.

Just search YouTube for a car specific tutorial. Input the year, make and model of your car + “how to change the air filter. ”

And that’s that. Simple and worth the time to learn.

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