Blog Car Care Advice How to Perform an Engine Air Filter Replacement (+ Costs)
Car Care Advice

How to Perform an Engine Air Filter Replacement (+ Costs)

Looking for a mechanic near you for maintenance or repair? AutoNation Mobile Service brings the shop to you. Get a free instant quote today.
Get a Quote

Timely engine air filter replacement ensures your engine breathes easy and performs efficiently. 

So how do you replace an engine air filter?
And when should you change it?

Keep reading to get an idea of what the engine air filter replacement process looks like and how much it costs. We’ll also clue you in on the perfect time for a swap to keep your engine happy.   

This Article Contains:

How to Replace an Engine Air Filter: A Step-By-Step Guide

Replacing an engine air filter requires basic automobile and technical knowledge, and that’s why you should let a mechanic handle the replacement. 

Here’s how they’ll replace an old filter:

Step 1: Park the Car

Your mechanic will park the car on level ground, apply the parking brake, and turn off the ignition. Then, they’ll lift and secure the bonnet with the prop rod. 

Step 2: Locate the Air Filter

The mechanic will locate the air box housing, usually located near the engine compartment — under the hood toward the front of the vehicle. In older cars with carburetors, the filter can be found under a large, round cover. 

Meanwhile, in newer, fuel-injected cars, it’s often in a square or rectangular housing between the front grill and the engine.

Note: An electric vehicle only has a cabin air filter and not the engine air filter. A cabin air filter helps remove harmful pollutants from the air you breathe within the car.

Step 3: Take Out the Air Filter Cover

Next, they’ll loosen the hose clamp that seals the air conduit and undo all the screws holding the air filter cover. The mechanic will then pull the cover out of the air conduit and lift it off the lower part of the housing.

Step 4: Remove the Air Filter

They’ll lift the old clogged air filter out. Filters are usually round or rectangular, made from cotton, paper, or gauze, with a rubber edge to seal them inside their housing. 

Step 5: Clean the Air Filter Box 

The mechanic will blow out the dust in the air filter housing (air filter box or air box) with compressed air or vacuum up the dirt. They’ll quickly seal the air passage with removable tape to prevent dirt from getting into the engine while cleaning.

Step 6: Insert the New Air Filter

They’ll place the new air filter into the air filter housing with the rubber rim facing up and ensure the edges are sealed by the rubber rim.

Step 7: Replace the Cover

Finally, the mechanic will press down the cover onto the bottom part of the air box to put it back in. They’ll tighten all screws, rock the unit with both hands to ensure everything is fine, and shut the hood.

Wondering how much it’ll cost you?
Let’s find out!

How Much Does an Engine Air Filter Replacement Cost?

The average cost of an engine air filter replacement is around $40 to $85. 
This includes:

The final cost depends on your vehicle model, type of filter, and the local labor charges in your region.

Next, find out the right time to replace your engine air filter.

How Often Should You Change the Engine Air Filter?

Ideally, you should change your engine air filter every 15,000 miles if you drive in tough environments or at 45,000 miles under good driving habits and conditions.

The replacement interval usually depends on your car’s age, model, driving habits, and the air quality you drive in. If you’re confused, consult your owner’s manual for the recommended replacement period.

Pro tip:  To save money and time, you can replace your filter when you get other car services, like an oil filter replacement or an oil change

Have more questions?
Let’s get to them, next.

3 FAQs on Engine Air Filters

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions on engine air filters:

1. What Are the Signs of a Dirty Engine Air Filter?   

When your engine is gasping for clean air and needs a new air filter, you’ll experience:

  1. Smell of gasoline when starting the car: A gasoline smell when starting the car can indicate a clogged filter due to poor air intake and a rich air-fuel mix. 

  2. Odd engine noises: Irregular combustion may result in sudden spitting or popping sounds when your engine is idle. This likely means that you need to change your filter. 
  1. Reduced engine performance: As the engine doesn’t get enough air, you might notice a decrease in acceleration, difficulty driving uphill, and overall loss of power.
  1. Visible dirt and debris: If your filter is visibly darker in color and the filter paper is covered in dust, dirt, and other harmful debris,  you need to change the filter ASAP.
  1. Reduced fuel efficiency: When there’s not enough air, the engine will compensate for this by using more fuel. This leads to low fuel economy.
  1. Lit check engine light: Multiple sensors can trigger the check engine light when you have a dirty air filter. For instance, a clogged air filter will restrict the airflow, result in incorrect mass airflow sensor readings, and trigger the check engine light.

2. What Causes a Bad Engine Air Filter?

Here are a few reasons why you might have a dirty car air filter and low engine performance:

3. Is it Safe to Drive with a Dirty Engine Air Filter?

No, it’s unsafe to drive with a clogged filter. 

Driving with a clogged engine air filter can overheat your engine, damage other vital car parts, like spark plugs and oxygen sensors, and leave you stranded.

Additionally, a dirty air filter can reduce fuel efficiency and lead to higher emissions. This isn’t just bad for the environment but might also make your vehicle fail emissions tests.

Get Your Engine Air Filters Fixed at AutoNation Mobile Service

Remember, a clean air filter is the key to smooth engine performance. That’s why you should replace your dirty car air filter at the first sign. It’s also vital to get regular maintenance, like an oil change, or replace parts such as an oil filter, spark plugs, and brake pads routinely.

However, if the thought of DIY makes you dizzy, let expert mechanics from AutoNation Mobile Service swoop in to save the day.

We’re a mobile auto repair and maintenance solution available seven days a week. We offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs.

Get in touch with us, and we’ll fix all your car issues right from your driveway.