How to Change the Air Filter in Your Car

Changing your car engine's air filter can cost you upwards of $50 at the shop (and that's just the labor). But changing your car engine filter takes about 15 minutes and $15 if you learn to do it yourself.

How to Change Your Car's Air Filter

You should check your car's air filter every 9 months, and change it every year to two years unless you live in a dusty or sandy climate, in which case the air filter may need to be changed more frequently.

What the Air Filter Does: 
Your car's engine air filter traps airborne debris (dust, leaves, bugs) before it can gum up your engine. 

What You Need to Know Before You Change the Air Filter:
The type and size of filter needed for your vehicle (check the car's manual). Some manufacturers install long-lasting filters that are difficult and expensive to replace. It's not the norm, but check before starting. Note: Always follow the specific recommendations and instructions in your vehicle's manual.

• Appropriate tools for removing the air filter housing (check the owner's manual)
• Shop vacuum
• Replacement air filter (the best quality you can afford)

1. First, be sure the engine is cool. Locate the air filter housing (usually in a plastic case near the top of the engine); remove the top. If the case is held together with clamps, screws or bolts, remove them.

2. Use a shop vacuum to clear out any debris you discover in the housing.

3. Lift the old filter out of the case, vacuum again and insert a new filter, making sure it fits properly in the housing.

4. Replace top; reattach clamps or screws.