How often should i change my cars air filter

Knowing how often tochange your vehicles air filter can end up saving you hundreds if not thousandsof dollars in the long run. The air that flows into your engine is not purelyair. Along with air, there are particles of sand, dirt and other debris thatflows in with it. Your vehicles air filter is one of your cars first lines ofdefense against damage and wear.

If you live in a rural area and dirt roads are prevalent, you may need to change your vehicles air filter sooner. Continue reading on to find out how often you should be changing your cars air filter.

When you should change your cars air filter

 United States vehicle Manufacturer Ford states that engine air filters should be replaced between 15,000 and 30,000miles, depending on driving conditions. If you don’t drive a lot, an air filter should be replaced at least every 3 years, as with age it becomes brittle. An old filter can tear or degrade, allowing dirt and sand to enter the engine. 


You can check if your car needs its air filter replaced by making a visual inspection of the air filter itself. One neat way AAA recommends to check if your air filter needs to be replaced is by holding it up to a bright light. If light shines through more than 50% of the filter, you can keep using it.

Normally, if you get your car serviced at a dealership or franchise oil changing location, they will check your vehicles air filter and make a note of whether it needs to be changed or not. If you like to change your oil yourself, it only takes a few moments to locate your airbox, pop it open, pull out the air filter and check to see what state it’s in. If you don’t know where to look in your engine bay for the airbox, you can find the location in your vehicle’s manual.

When replacing your vehicles air filter, make sure that the air filter fits snug and that the housing is holding fast. You don’t want any gap for the dirty air to leak into your engine’s intake.

How much does it cost to replace?

One question that is going to pop up when reading this article is, exactly how much does it cost to replace my engines air filter? The cost of filters generally fluctuates for a few different reasons. Mainly those reasons are the model/brand of vehicle you own as well as the quality/brand of air filter you want to purchase. Before you buy any replacement filter, check with your manual/dealership to see the required filter your vehicle needs before replacing it.

Recently I had a friend of mine who changed the filter in his sedan and it cost him only $9 off of Amazon. He purchased an EP Auto air filter and since he was doing the installation himself, he obviously waived the labor charge.

Normally, to get your air filter replaced, while varied, you can expect prices to range anywhere from $30-75 installed. Again, make sure to check your vehicle’s manual or consult your local dealership on the brand/model of air filter your car needs.

A decrease in gas mileage

The common thinking is that the dirtier your air filter, the worse your fuel economy will be. The truth is that it won’t considerably hurt your fuel economy according to this 2009 study done by The United States Department of Energy. The study goes on to state that the only real significant difference will be with your vehicle’s acceleration.

The study finds that a blocked air filter can hurt the acceleration of your vehicle up to 11%. Obviously, take this in moderation. If you live in an area with high amounts of sand/dust/trees, your car could be suffering from massive blockage and you will see a measurable decline in your MPG.

Beware of deceit 

Tom on Angie’s list brought up a good point that really doesn’t get talked about too often. In this article, he talks about falling for scams at mechanics shops.

Basically, if you are consistently going to the same mechanic and they keep on recommending an air filter change when you come in to change your oil, you may be getting tricked.

As we mentioned in the article earlier, generally your air filter only needs to be replaced once every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. If you’re going in for an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, this falls way short of the expected life of your filter.

What are the risks associated with waiting to replace your air filter

There are a few risks associated with putting off air filter replacement, the two I want to highlight today are Ignitions problems and cylinder scoring.

As far as ignition problems go, when your air filter is clogged and air has a hard time getting through, it confuses your vehicles Emission Control System. This can lead to gunk building up on your spark plugs preventing them from working correctly. This can lead to you having to replace your sparkplugs in much faster intervals than you normally would have to.

The second point I wanted to highlight was the potential for scoring on your pistons. Since your air filter is clogged, your engine will naturally act as a huge vacuum and suck in loose particle from your filter through the intake. This can lead to hard particles getting in and cutting grooves or scratches into the face of your cylinder walls and pistons. This can cause your vehicle to slowly start to burn excessive amounts of oil.

The filters you should know about 

The most well know filters on your car go as follows:

  1. Cabin Air Filter
  2. Oil Filter
  3. Engine Air Filter
  4. Fuel Filter

Although it is not always common, some mechanics in the past have recommended that I change my Chevy Cruze’s Cabin air filter at the same time as my Engine air filter. Usually, I do, for the simple fact that I live in an extremely windy location that is constantly blowing and picking up dust.

Your cars cabin air filter is responsible for filtering out all of the particles from the outside air before it makes its way to you in the driver’s seat.

In conclusion 

Mechanics views vary slightly on this topic. Most automakers suggest replacing your cars air filter every 30,000 miles, or about after every 10 oil changes.

If you drive in areas that have extremely dusty conditions they recommend to replace the filter every 15,000 miles. On the flip side to this, some Chevrolet engines recommend a filter change every 45,000 miles. If you can, stick to keeping it updated under the 45,000-mile mark.

If you haven’t been driving your car often if per se you own a show car that doesn’t get driven, the general consensus is to replace your air filter every 3 years. The reason for this is that your filter can crack, letting in dirty air which could contain particles that could potentially scratch your cylinders.

  • Normal driving conditions  = replace every 30,000 miles
  • Harsh driving conditions = replace every 15,000 miles
  • Replace the filter if it’s been more than three years since it was last changed
  • Always check your manual/dealership to find the correct filter for your car

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