“Proof that cheaper isn’t always better!”
For your engine to run, it needs air just as it needs gas. The air mixes with gas, the spark plug gives a spark, and-presto! You have internal combustion. In order to keep your engine running efficiently, the air that it takes in needs to be as clean as possible. Problem is that the air outside is full of things that doesn’t burn cleanly or evenly at all. Dirt, pollen, salt, and bird feathers are just some the things your engine will suck in to create the controlled explosion that moves your motor. You don’t want that stuff in your engine. That’s where the dependable air filter comes in.
Air filters are connected to the engine’s intake manifold. Most filters are rectangular (older cars that have carburetors use a donut-shaped air filter) and are made of a porous, paper-like material, folded like an accordion.
Changing the air filter on your car is one of the easiest things you can do to maintain it, short of filling up your gas tank. Even if you don’t know anything about cars or how they work, you can complete this task in less than 10 minutes.
The air filter is typically enclosed in a black plastic casing near the center-top of the engine. It should be the largest non-metal assembly you see, about the size of a breadbox. On most modern cars, you don’t even need tools to do it! Just make sure that the replacement filter you buy is designed specifically to fit the make, model and year of your vehicle, and you’ll have no problems.
Check that the car’s engine is cold. Pull the hood release latch, open the hood and prop it up. Locate the air filter compartment. This is frequently very easy, but it can be hard to find in some cars or if this is your first filter change. The air filter compartment is black plastic and is connected to the engine block with a large, firm, black plastic hose.
It is often on one side of the car rather than in the direct center. On modern cars, the compartment is often kept closed by shiny metal clips, which can also give the air filter compartment away when just looking under the hood. You can always refer to an under-hood diagram of your car in your owner’s manual.
To open the air filter compartment, loosen the hose clamp that seals the air conduct. Undo any securing clips holding the air filter cover. Some models have wing nuts; other air filters are just clamped on with a quick release system. (Keep screws and other parts together and in a safe location so you can find them later). Pull the cover out of the air conduit and lift it up so it comes off the lower part of the housing. On some cars, the cover may be held on with screws instead of clips. You’ll have to use the appropriate screwdriver, usually either a flathead or Phillips-head, to remove the screws. Some European cars may even require a specialized wrench to open this panel.
Inside you will find a round or rectangular filter made of cotton, paper or gauze. Filters have a rubber rim that seals off the unit’s interior. Simply lift the filter out of the housing. Depending on the design of the air intake on your car, there may or may not be additional clips holding the filter in place. These clips should not require any tools to remove, however.
Put the new filter in place. If you had to undo any clips, close them again after installing the new filter.
Replace the cover on the air filter compartment and lock it back down. It is suggested that you change or check your air filter at least every 15 to 20K mileage.