In order for your vehicle to deliver its peak performance, it needs to have a well-maintained engine, among other factors. But how do you keep an engine well-maintained? One thing you need for peak performance is an efficient engine air filter that ensures that only clean and filtered air reaches the engine. After all, the engine can’t combust fuel without air. The filter’s purpose is to remove the debris so that the engine is protected from wear and tear.

There are a plethora of options for engine air filters available on the market, so picking out one can be quite challenging. To make things easier for you, we have created a list of the best 15 engine air filters. We’ve scoured Amazon for the best deals on engine air filters, the bestsellers, and ones with excellent consumer reviews.

1. Editor's Pick: K&N 33-2304 High Performance Replacement Air Filter

k&n engine air filter

This replacement air filter by K&N is designed for increasing horsepower and acceleration while also ensuring exceptional air filtration, thus promising excellent engine protection. Washable and reusable, the filter is custom designed so that it easily fits into your existing filter box.

Since the filter has a simple drop-in design, it is easy to improve performance with this filter. Moreover, the filter is backed up by the million mile/10-year limited warranty. Perhaps the greatest thing about this engine air filter is that it can last for up to 50,000 miles, depending on the driving conditions.

The air filter is generally known to add up to 4 horsepower thanks to the unique make and characteristics of the filter materials. The filter is made using up to six layers of cotton gauze that is layered between two sheets of wire mesh coated with epoxy. Furthermore, it is pleated as well as oiled to improve overall performance and filtration. K&N offers a million miles/10-year warranty. If the filter has been used properly and was found to be defective, then you can get the filter replaced free of charge.

2. EPAuto GP075 (CA10755) Replacement Engine Air Filter

epauto air filter

Designed as a replacement for Toyota and Lexus engine air filters, this panel engine filter by EPAuto is one of the bestselling automotive replacement filters. The GP075 is great for all Honda engines as well. On comparing both this filter and the original engine air filter, both of them look quite alike, thus ensuring the same great performance. Not only does it help to increase performance, but also keeps the engine and other internal components safe against dirt. Another great thing about this filter is its ability to increase the fuel mileage.

For optimal performance, it is suggested to replace the filters after 12,000 miles of use. Since installing this EPAuto filter is relatively easy, it is an excellent choice if you are looking for a user-friendly and economical engine air filter.

3. Mann Filter C 3698/3-2 Air Filter

mann filter c-3698 3/2 air filter

This air filter by Mann Filter works by ensuring the air entering the engine is completely free of harmful particles. It is a reliable and efficient air filter that allows the optimum air to fuel ratio. At the same time, it also ensures consistent engine performance.

Apart from being an efficient air filter, the Mann filter has other benefits too. It reduces the intake noise, seals off adjacent components, and controls the regulation of temperature. These air filters can filter many kinds of destructive particles including water droplets, soot, sand, pollen, and dust, helping to keep allergens away from passengers too.

The filter is also well-known for protecting different electronic components such as sensors. Made using specially embossed paper, the filter has good pleat stability. Moreover, it balances the flow of air directed towards the air flow meter and offers optimum dirt separation efficiency.

4. FRAM CA9482 Extra Guard Flexible Panel Air Filter

fram ca9482 extra guard air filter

Another air filter by FRAM on this list of top 15 best engine air filters is the CA9842 flexible air filter, which comes with a scientifically engineered filter media that offers a high level of engine protection. The filter, just like all FRAM filters, has proved to provide two times the protection as compared to standard air filters. It is a flexible panel that filters out dirt and debris from the air taken in by the engine.

The advanced filter media has been rigorously tested to ensure its quality and efficiency. While you should follow the recommended change intervals mentioned in your vehicle’s manual, this filter needs to be changed after every 12,000 miles.

Apart from its efficiency, another good quality of this filter is that it can be easily installed. You just need to follow the illustrations and directions mentioned on the pack. These installation instructions are quite clear.

5. Toyota Genuine Parts 17801-YZZ02 Air Filter

toyota genuine parts air filter

Toyota understands the fact that the car also needs clean and fresh air just like we do. For this reason, Genuine Toyota engine air filters are particularly designed for your vehicle so they trap almost all the airborne contaminants before they make their way to the engine. As a result, these filters prevent premature wear to the engine and other internal components. One such Toyota Genuine filter is the 17801-YZZ02, which not only improves the engine’s performance but also increases fuel efficiency.

This Genuine Toyota filter features a filter element with triple layers; a fine, medium, and a coarse layer enabling it to capture and retain varying sizes and kinds of contaminants including dirt and dust. Moreover, the filter has a polyurethane resin frame that ensures an excellent fit, therefore sealing out the dirt and reducing noise.

The filter is ideal for you use for up to 36 months or 30,000 miles if you drive under normal driving conditions. For dusty environments, the filter will serve its purpose for up to 15,000 miles. Since it is a genuine OEM, it offers a direct fit. Plus, while it is recommended to be used only for Toyota vehicles, it can be used for other brands too.

6. FRAM Extra Guard Panel Air Filter

fram extra guard air filter

This engine air filter by FRAM incorporates advanced features, enabling it to capture more dirt and gunk. The FRAM guard air filter is engineered using an advanced filter material that has been rigorously tested and has proved to provide twice the engine protection than many average leading air filters. What makes this filter increasingly efficient is the coated filter material, which is able to trap and hold quite a significant amount of dirt.

The durability of this FRAM extra guard engine air filter is commendable. The heavier filter screen extends into urethane, thus providing greater integrity and reducing the chances of it tearing or collapsing even during the toughest driving conditions. The filter can be used for 12,000 miles before it needs to be changed. It also prevents the decrease in horsepower and acceleration while improving the overall performance of your vehicle.

The installation of this FRAM air filter is also easy. The illustrations and directions given on the pack are easy to understand and offer very clear instructions about the installation.

7. K&N 33-2438 Replacement Air Filter

k&n engine air filter

K&N is known for manufacturing high-quality, reusable filters, making them economical. The K&N automotive replacement engine air filter is suitable for both trucks and cars and optimizes performance while ensuring exceptional engine protection. There are numerous benefits of this air filter including the fact that it is easy to install and comes with a million mile limited warranty.

Apart from being washable, this filter can also last for up to 50,000 miles in between servicing, depending on the conditions you drive in. Moreover, it is handmade with only the finest material; plus, as the company claims, it is nearly impossible to wash this air filter too much. Before being put out on the market, the K&N 33-2438 is washed and re-oiled in the testing laboratory more than 100 times and still performs exceptionally well.

8. Mann Filter C 43 102 Air Filter

mann filter air filter

German manufactured Mann Filters are known for their high efficiency and mechanical stability. The C 43 102 engine air filter not only demonstrates high mechanical stability but also allows the optimum composition of the mixture of air and fuel, ensuring constant and exceptional engine performance. Primarily, the filter is made for the Volkswagen Jetta, but Mann has filters for other models too. It is reliable and effective and filters out damaging particles before the air passes into the engine. As a result, it can improve the mileage of the car by up to 10%.

The C 43 102 filter is made using specially embossed paper, which offers good pleat stability, thus contributing to the efficiency of the filter. Aside from promising optimum dirt separation efficiency, the filter is also able to filter out many kinds of harmful particles includes water droplets, dust, soot, pollen, and sand from the air taken in. Meanwhile, it also reduces the intake noise and balances the airflow meter directed towards the airflow meter while protecting the adjacent components by sealing them off.

9. ACDelco A3144C Professional Air Filter

acdelco a3144c professional air filter

ACDelco is well-known for its original equipment parts for General Motors vehicles. With years of experience, ACDelco promises quality and innovation. The company offers premium aftermarket engine air filters that protect both GM engines as well as non-GM engines from all contaminants that can prematurely damage the vehicle’s engine and internal components. One such engine air filter is the A3144C that not only protects the engine but also protects you from harmful pollutants and allergens that can enter the ventilation system of the vehicle.

The engine air filter is able to extend the engine’s life by enhancing the efficiency and performance of the engine. Similarly, the filter ensures exceptional flow management, efficiency, and filter capacity. Thanks to this filter, your car engine can enjoy unrestricted airflow of the cleanest possible air. Lastly, the tight seals keep the unfiltered air from going into the combustion chamber, making the A3144C an ideal choice. It is a competitively priced, high-quality alternative to unbranded aftermarket components.

10. EcoGard XA6131 Engine Air Filter

ecogard xa6131 premium engine air filter

The XA6131 Ecogard engine filter is made particularly for Chevrolet Equinox models from 2010 to 2017 and GMC terrain models from the same time period. In fact, the air filter has been particularly tested for the form, fit, and the function of the OE GMC and Chevrolet’s engine air filter.

This filter helps to improve the performance of your vehicle by allowing only clean air to pass through efficiently. Consequently, the engine enjoys uninterrupted clean air, which in turn ensures long-term power and faster acceleration. The filter can work for up to 12,000 miles, saving the hassle of having to change the engine air filter after every few days.

The Ecogard XA6131 also helps to prevent increased engine wear which is caused by dirty filters. With the filter all clogged up, your car’s current filter might allow damaging particles to enter the engine, thus reducing its life.

You also get to enjoy many benefits such as optimized engine performance. Similarly, the installation is easy and often doesn’t require any tools. Plus, you can save more by purchasing the filter instead of heading over to your dealership and paying extra.

11. ACDelco A3181C Professional Air Filter

acdelco a3181c professional air filter

The ACDelco professional aftermarket air filter is a recommended, high-quality replacement filter. Owned by GM, ACDelco’s filters are primarily made for GM vehicles, however, they can be used for many non-GM vehicles too. One such efficient filter is the A3181C.

The A3181C enhances both the efficiency and performance of the engine such that it significantly extends its life. The filter traps almost all the airborne particles before they can enter the engine. As a result, it supplies the engine with the cleanest air coupled with the least airflow restriction. Moreover, this ACDelco engine filter also has a tight seal, which enables it to keep the unfiltered air from making its way to the combustion chamber.

All in all, this ACDelco filter promises superior performance thanks to its excellent flow management, efficiency, and filter capacity. It is a quality alternative to unbranded aftermarket components and is manufactured to meet your expectations for function, form, and fit.

12. EcoGard XA10304 Engine Air Filter

ecogard xa10304 air filter

Many people prefer Ecogard because its air filters meet the requirements needed for maintaining the warranties of new vehicle so that you can enjoy optimal engine efficiency and clean air without any hassle. One such filter is the XA10304 engine air filter which reduces maintenance cost, maximizes the efficiency, and maintains high quality.

There are many benefits of replacing your current filter with this one by Ecogard. Firstly, it improves your vehicle’s performance by providing it with clean and constant air flow so that, thus enabling better acceleration and more power. It also decreased the engine wear by filtering out all the particles that can severely damage the engine.

Furthermore, the filter is factory fit for problem-free, easy installation. You just need a few minutes and a little to no tools, depending on your vehicle to get this installed. It has particularly been engineered and tested for Jeep original equipment air filter’s function, form, and fit.

13. Genuine Subaru 16546AA10A Engine Air Filter

subaru element air cleaner

Manufactured using only high-quality components, this Subaru engine air filter is the inexpensive yet high-quality option for replacing your original air filter. Since it is a genuine OEM part, it is a reliable product when it comes to its effectiveness and high quality. Purchasing any vehicle is a big investment and choosing the right filter that can improve performance and engine’s life is important which is why you can’t go wrong with this Subaru engine air filter.

Featuring a triple layered filter element, this Subaru filter is able to trap various kinds and sizes of airborne particles including dust and dirt, thus saving your engine and other internal components from rapid deterioration. Other benefits that you can enjoy with this filter include fuel efficiency, reduction in noise, and better performance.

Apart from the triple layers, the filter has a resin frame made using polyurethane thus ensuring excellent fit and reduction of noise. Plus, this filter is not too big of an investment and can work efficiently for up to 30,000 miles, saving you from the hassle of changing the filter every now and then.

14. PurolatorONE A35432 Air Filter


purolatorone advanced air filter

The PurolatorONE A35432 air filter is a primary choice for many considering the efficiency and quality it offers. Once you replace your dirty, clogged filter with this air filter, you can enjoy up to 11% improved vehicle acceleration.

The Purolator panel air filter is made using specially treated paper that is particularly efficient at trapping harmful dirt and maximizing air flow. At the same time, the filter ensures clean oil, thus reducing engine wear. If you want an efficient air filter, then this one by Purolator should be on top of your list since it can trap up to 96.5% of damaging airborne pollutants and contaminants.

The filter provides a high volume of clean air. This is possible because of the gaskets surrounding the filtering material. The gasket provides a tight seal in the intake chamber so that only filtered, clean air reaches the engine. The gasket also stays flexible despite cold conditions so that your engine life is not compromised. Perhaps, the best thing about this air filter is that it doesn’t void the warranty that comes with a new car. Ideal for 12,000 miles, the filter provides protection while improving fuel efficiency and performance.

15. Cleenaire EAF11712 Engine Air Filter

cleenaire engine air filter

Cleenaire is a manufacturer of all kinds of filters such as oil, fuel, cabin, and engine air filters. It provides high-quality filters including the EAF11712 engine air filter.

Made using high-quality materials, the filters are fitted with thick rubber seals so they are able to fit snugly in your filter box. Since the filter uses a fine filtration media, it has a high capacity for trapping the harmful debris that tries to enter the engine and cause damage and wear. At the same time, the filter maintains proper airflow so that your engine continues to run smoothly.

Not only does the filter exceed OEM standards, this filter, made primarily for Mazda models, pays for itself too since it allows you to get 1.5 MPG to 2 MPG over a dirty filter. With this filter, you get to enjoy many other advantages too. For instance, on modern fuel-injected cars, the filter helps to increase acceleration by up to 11%. Similarly, it can help to prolong the life of your engine.

Everything You Need to Know About Engine Air Filters

Engine Air Filters

Photo Credit: NONGASIMO via Shutterstock

Engine air filters are essential for your vehicle regardless of what you do with your car: track stars, grocery runners, highway drivers or city dwellers, all cars need a good engine air filter. While it is not the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about engines, engine air filters are crucial components that must not be neglected.

Driving exposes your car’s engine to irritating airborne particles that can also be potentially dangerous, leaving both the occupants and the engine exposed to harmful contaminants. This is where engine air filters play an important role. Here’s what you need to know about engine air filters.

What are engine air filters?

Air filters play a crucial role in providing maximum power to the engine by supporting airflow and keeping harmful contaminants out of the valve train and intake manifold.

To operate, engines use internal combustion of fuel to run, and this combustion requires air. Without air, the engine is unable to burn the gas, failing to provide the force needed to power the engine. However, before the air reaches your engine, it is critical that it is clean. Otherwise, debris and dirt will start to pile up in the engine, and with time, these particles can cause problems such as wearing away the piston rings, cylinders, and bearings. Ultimately, your engine efficiency is badly affected, and the lifespan of your vehicle is shortened too.

With an air filter in place, however, the harmful contaminants, dirt, and debris are filtered out, and only clean air reaches your engine.

What are engine air filters made of?

Photo Credit: Cherdchai charasri via Shutterstock

If you are thinking of replacing your engine air filter, then choosing one out of the three kinds doesn’t need to be necessarily overwhelming. You just need to know the efficiency of the material, its cost, and how long it will last for.

The very first automotive air filters were made using paper, and to date, most vehicles are fitted with an engine air filter made of paper. Specific kinds of wood pulp are used to make a fine, porous material that varies from 100 g/m square to 200 g/m square in weight. Moreover, the filter is pleated, resulting in an increase in the surface area in a given volume of space.

As a result, tiny particles are filtered out, and only clear air reaches the engine. Such kinds of engine air filters are sealed with either plastic or foam at the edges and have plastic or metal components for rigidity.

Paper filters are quite affordable and ideal for small vehicles. Ideally, they are perfect for areas with less dust and minimum pollution rate. The only problem is that since paper filters are considered as wear items, they must be discarded once they become clogged. So, once they are worn out after a particular mileage value, you will need to purchase a new engine air filter.

Compared to paper filters, cotton air filters are more expensive, but they are designed to last for a longer. A cotton air filter involves multiple layers of cotton gauze held between wire mesh screens. The gauze is treated with oil and thus it helps with trapping particles without constricting the air flow. The cotton gauze itself traps the big particles while the oil batch filter deals with the smaller particles.

Once a cotton filter clogs up, you can wash it and re-oil it before using the device again. However, this is the problem; while such kinds of engine air filters are more economical, there is more maintenance involved. Apart from being frequently cleaned, they also need to be oiled after every wash since oil is responsible for trapping the dust particles.

  • Foam Engine Air Filters

These are quite similar to cotton filters with the only difference being that such filters use polyurethane foam in place of cotton gauze. The oil serves the same purpose; capturing small particles before they reach the engine. Despite them being reasonably priced, foam filters are less popular than cotton filters because of their ineffectiveness. They are, however, used for vehicles in off-road motorsports since they can filter out a lot of dirt.

How do air filters work?

In any vehicle, the air filter is fitted in front of the mass air flow sensor and throttle body. As mentioned earlier, air filters trap small particles that exist in the environment while encouraging uninterrupted air flow.

As air passes through the intake system, it must first pass through the engine air filter. When air passes through the filter, particles that are larger than the filter’s pores are held back while the air passes. With no air filter in place, particles can enter the throttle body and eventually end up in the combustion chambers, putting your vehicle’s internal components at risk of damage.

How do you know your filter needs to be changed?

dirty air filter

A clean air filter vs a dirty one that needs changing. Photo Credit: Nor Gal via Shutterstock

Spotting a clogged up filter is relatively easy. With an old and dirty filter, your engine power will be reduced, and you will experience weaker acceleration and decreased throttle experience along with increased engine wear. You might experience ignition problems as well.

So, when you try starting your car, but it only rolls over sluggishly, it could be because of a clogged up air filter. Similarly, your gas mileage can also be an indicator. With a dirty air filter, it is difficult to get air in so the engine has to work harder. While in the beginning, your gas mileage won’t suffer a lot, after a while you will start to see the numbers dropping quickly. That is why if you find yourself filling the tank more frequently than usual, make sure to check your air filter.

How often should a car engine filter be changed?

There is no fixed time for when you should change your engine air filter. In fact, it depends on many factors like the environment your car is driven in and the number of miles it has been used for. Some people suggest replacing the air filter after every 3,000 miles. Meanwhile, others say that mileage isn’t too important as checking to see how much dirt has accumulated on the filter.

You should also refer to the car manual to see the manufacturer’s recommendation. Ideally, you should get the filter changed at least one time in an entire year. As mentioned earlier, it does depend on how clean your environment is, so changing it once a year is adequate if there are insignificant dust levels or low pollution in the location you live in. On the flip side, if the dust and pollution levels are higher where you live, then it would be best to change it more frequently.

The bottom line is you should not neglect replacing your air filter. The replacement doesn’t cost much, plus, it could help save you money on a much costly repair in the future.

How do you replace the engine air filter?

Replacing your air filter is pretty easy, and you don’t need to get your mechanic to charge you extra for something you can do it yourself without any hassle.

  1. First, purchase an air filter. You can find one quite conveniently at an auto parts store or online. Before purchasing the air filter, know the year, model, and make of your car so that you buy the right one.
  2. Next, pop open your hood and locate the filter box. It will be black (in color) and will either sit on top of your engine, or on the sides. Usually, there is a giant hose sticking out of the side, making it easy to locate.
  3. The next thing for you to do is to open the box and replace the old, dirty filter with a new one. Opening the filter box is also a cinch. You simply need to unclasp the metal clips holding the top down, and the box will open. Have a look inside the folds of your filler. If there are high amounts of dirt and gunk stuck to it, take it out and throw it away.
  4. Now, insert the engine air filter you just purchased. Once it fits snugly inside the box, put the lid back on and snap the metal clips back in place.

Why should you change engine air filters frequently?

With only clean air entering the engine, there are numerous benefits.

One of those benefits is increased fuel efficiency. Once your car has logged thousands of miles, your filter is bound to be clogged because of all the accumulated dirt. As a result, less air passes through the engine. And since your engine needs air for efficient functioning, a reduced amount of air means the engine will use more fuel to function. Instead of spending more on fuel, simply get your filters changed.

Next, your engine life is prolonged when you replace the dirty filter with a new one. While engines are big and powerful, they can be quite sensitive to the smallest of particles. With time, dirt along with other particles can lead to severe damage to the internal parts of the engine. So, it is better to spend a small amount on getting the filters changed instead of spending thousands on engine repairs.

Furthermore, with a clean engine air filter, your car will have fewer harmful emissions. Reduced or constricted air flow messes the car emission control in your car, and causes it to spew out more harmful particles in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change. You can play a small role in reducing pollution by simply getting rid of your dirty air filter.

What happens if you don’t change engine air filters?

Once the air filter stops doing its job, dirt can make its way to the engine and eventually end up in the oil supply. As a result, internal components such as cylinder walls, piston rings, valve seats, and the valves themselves can be damaged.

In fact, before the dirt particles start to wreak havoc and cause expensive damage, a clogged up filter will negatively affect the fuel economy, performance, and the power of your vehicle.

What are the best engine air filters?

Purchasing a replacement engine air filter can feel a little daunting, particularly because of the different kinds and the plethora of companies to choose from. After you decide whether you want a cotton, paper, or foam filter, you can pick out one which fits inside your engine’s air filter box. As we mentioned earlier, the best engine air filter is one that is efficient at its job and filters out all the harmful particles.

Make sure you stick to reputable brands so that you reduce the chances of damage to your engine.

How to Replace an Engine Air Filter on Your Car: Step By Step

How to Change an Engine Air Filter

Photo Credit: Cherdchai charasri via Shutterstock

Your car doesn’t just need fuel to work; it needs air too. But before air makes its way inside the engine, it needs to be filtered, so dust, insects, and other small particles don’t end up inside the engine. An air filter is responsible for this filtration and to keep air flowing freely into the engine so that you enjoy the optimal performance; it is recommended that you replace the air filter after every few months.

While car dealerships can replace your filter, this is something you can easily do yourself. Changing your own engine air filter is easy and will save you from having to pay a mechanic plus their upcharge on parts and labor. Doing it yourself only takes a few minutes and hardly needs any tools.

Before getting started, the first step is to get the correct engine air filter. You can find a filter both online as well as in stores, but before you finalize your purchase, make sure to check the make, model and year of your vehicle so you pick out the right one that fits properly. Air filters are usually very cheap and it’s best to try and get your hands on the stock filter of your vehicle so that you can enjoy the maximum fuel efficiency and engine life. If you can’t find the right air filter according to your vehicle, you can take help from any auto parts store or a similar website that can help identify the filter that will fit your airbox.

With the following steps, you can easily change your filter yourself.

  1. Spot the airbox: Usually, the airbox housing is placed next to the engine. You will also see a duct next to the box that travels all the way from the front of the car. A filter box is pretty easy to spot because of the giant hose that sticks out of the side. However, this does not apply to all cars. In older cars that have carburetors, the engine air filter is under a bulky, round cover that is made either out of metal or plastic. Similarly, in the newer, fuel-injected vehicles, the air filter housing is either rectangular or square in shape and is usually found a little off center between the engine and the front grill.How To Replace An Engine Air Filter On Your Car-Step-1
  2. Remove the cover of the air filter: The air conduit is sealed with a hose clamp, so you first need to loosen that by undoing all the screws that hold the cover. The kind of screws you will find on your filter box will vary. While some models will have wing nuts, others will be simply clamped with a quick release system. Once you unscrew the lid, keep the screws and all the other small parts somewhere safe so that you can find them once you are done. Now, pull the cover out of the conduit and lift it up such that it comes off the housing. If you have difficulties lifting the cover, you can ask a mechanic for help.
  3. Remove the filter: After the lid is off, you will see a rectangular or round filter made using gauze, paper, or cotton. You will also spot a rubber rim that seals the interior of the unit. To remove the filter, you just need to lift it out of the housing. Have a look at your old filter; particularly, see inside the folds. If you spot a lot of gunk and dirt, then you know it is time to throw it out and put in a new one! How To Replace An Engine Air Filter On Your Car-Step-2
  4. Clean the filter housing: Connect an air hose to a compressor and then blow out the dust with the compressed air. Alternatively, use a vacuum cleaner and suck up all the dirt. Make sure you seal the air conduit with adhesive, removable tape. It will just take a minute and will also keep the dirt from entering the engine while you clean.How To Replace An Engine Air Filter On Your Car-Step-3
  5. Replace the filter: Once the housing is clean, remove the air filter from the box it came in and put in the new filter where the old one used to be. You only need to insert it in the housing such that the rubber rim faces upwards. Do ensure that the rubber rim seals the edges.How To Replace An Engine Air Filter On Your Car-Step-4How To Replace An Engine Air Filter On Your Car-Step-5
  6. Place the airbox cover back on: Very carefully, place the cover of the conduit back and press down on the whole thing onto the lower part of the air filter. Make sure that it is put on straight and is well-secure; otherwise, it could affect how your engine performs. Tighten the clamps or the screws and double check to make sure that everything is put back firmly together by gently rocking the unit. How To Replace An Engine Air Filter On Your Car-Step-6

When do I change my engine's air filter?

dirty air filter

A clean air filter vs a dirty one that needs changing. Photo Credit: Nor Gal via Shutterstock

Since air filters keep harmful particles away from your engine and other internal components, it is recommended that you change the filter after every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or after a year; whichever comes first. This suggestion, however, also depends on the conditions you drive in. For instance, if you drive in a place where pollution is high, then it is better to change your filter after every 6,000 miles. There are signs that can indicate when your air filter needs changing. If you experience the following, then it is time to change the filter:

  1. Reduction in gas mileage

Pay attention to the gas mileage of your car. A common indication of a dirty filter is a decrease in the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. With a dirty filter, less air enters the engine, and the engine compensates for the reduction by consuming an increased amount of fuel to produce sufficient power. So, if you find yourself going to the gas station more often, it is better to have a look at your engine air filter.

  1. Misfiring engine

If your engine has problems with starting up easily, then it could be because of a dirty filter. A dirty filter blocks the amount of air flowing into the engine. As a result, the air to fuel blend becomes overly rich, which, pollutes the spark plug and causes the engine to misfire. In fact, in some cases, it might even miss completely.

  1. Unusual engine sounds

If you notice your car making an unusual vibrating or slipping sound at idle, it might be time to change your engine air filter. This occurs because of a spark plug that has been damaged by a clogged air filter.

  1. Reduced horsepower

If your car doesn’t respond the way it used to upon pressing the accelerator or if you feel jerky movements, then it could mean that your engine isn’t receiving a sufficient amount of air needed for optimal performance. Check your filter if this occurs and replace it if it is dirty and clogged up.

  1. Service engine light turns on

As mentioned earlier, the engine combines air with gas to power the vehicle. Due to a clogged filter, the engine receives inadequate air and deposits accumulate on the engine, thus triggering the service engine light. Before you send your car to the mechanic, make sure to check the filter to see if that is the problem.

  1. Black smoke emitted from the exhaust

Due to insufficient air, incomplete combustion of fuel can take place. Unburnt fuel exits the car via the exhaust pipe which you will see in the form of black smoke. In a few cases, you may even hear a popping case or see a small flame at the exhaust’s end which is an indication of ignition of the extra fuel in the pipe.

Benefits of Changing Your Engine Air Filter

While there are many benefits of replacing your engine air filter, the greatest three benefits include:

  • Your car becomes more fuel efficient

As mentioned earlier, a dirty filter means your engine needs more fuel. So, replacing your dirty filter with a clean one means that you can save more on fuel. Moreover, changing a clogged filter can also increase the car’s acceleration by up to 11 percent. The increase in gas mileage and acceleration in turns improves the performance of the engine.

  • Reduces the emissions from your car

Since clogged air filters reduce the flow of air directed towards the engine, the emission control systems of the car are affected. In turn, there is an incorrect air to fuel ratio as well as ignition problems that reduce the performance of your car. More importantly, since engine deposits increase due to the rich fuel mixture, you will might see black fumes from the car. However, an increased airflow will allow the engine to function properly, reducing fuel consumption as well as emissions.

  • Helps save significant money on costly engine repairs

Regular change in air filters prolongs engine life since the air filter traps all the damaging debris and dirt, thus protecting your internal engine parts like pistons and cylinders. Particles as small as sand grains can lead to costly engine repairs, which is why it is better to spend a small amount and replace the filter instead of waiting until your engine is damaged to make the replacement.

Our Final Verdict

Our personal pick for the best engine air filter is the K&N 33-2304 High Performance Replacement Air Filter. Not only does it get rave reviews, but the fact that it’s reusable will help you save some money in the long run.

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