Air Filter Replacement: A Step-by-Step Guide

a step-by-step guide to replace your air filter Air Filter Replacement: A Step-by-Step Guide

Air filters play a pivotal role for engines today, as they screen out debris, dirt, and other potential contaminants. They can only work at an optimal rate, though, if they’re clean. When they get too dirty, your engine is more susceptible to overheating and wearing down prematurely. Make sure you prevent this from happening to your vehicle’s engine by following this step-by-step guide to air filter replacement.

Inspect Your Current Air Filter

Before installing a new filter in the air filter housing unit, you should first inspect the current filter. This way, you can make sure it does need to be replaced for optimal performance. First, locate the air filter housing unit in your vehicle. It will be located underneath your vehicle’s hood on the driver’s side.

Take off the top and remove the filter from the housing unit. Hold this filter up in the light, seeing if light can pass through both sides. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to find a suitable replacement. You should proceed by throwing the dirty filter away and starting the search process.

If your air filter looks to be fairly clean, but is old, you should still replace it as a precautionary measure. Most air filters will be good for up to 30,000 miles.

Invest in the Appropriate Gear

Since this replacement job can get dirty, it’s a good idea to invest in the right gear so that you remain safe and clean. You can prevent your hands from getting dirty by wearing disposable work gloves. They are fairly cheap and can be thrown away as soon as this replacement job is completed.

You’ll also want to wear some type of protective goggles. This way, when you’re moving around the air filter and stirring up dirt and debris, no particles will get into your eyes and thus hinder your vision in any way. Additionally, try to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. If any oil or stains get on your attire, you can simply throw them away without worrying about how much they cost.

Select a New Filter

Now comes one of the most important steps for your engine: selecting an appropriate replacement air filter. Today, there are so many options to consider. Your first priority, though, should be selecting the right size. You can approach this in two ways. Either you can simply look at the old air filter to see what dimensions it had. Or, you can look in your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for the air filter size.

Once you have the size down, you can now decide what type of air filter should go into the air filter housing. There are many popular choices, including HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance), washable filters, fiberglass filters, and polyester filters.

If you’re looking to save the most amount of money, your best option is a fiberglass filter. It’s extremely affordable and used most in the automotive industry. Fiberglass is layered on top of each other, and the layers are held together by metal grading. Even though this choice is economical, it will need to be replaced more often than the other options.

Washable filters are great if you want to use your air filter multiple times, even after it gets dirty. For optimal performance, all you need to do is wash both sides at the appropriate intervals. You can then re-insert it back into the housing unit and get several more months out of it.

If, however, you’re looking to screen out the smallest of particles, the best option is a HEPA filter. Air is passed through a very fine scale, an important design for prolonging the life of your engine and saving you from costly repairs over the years. The only con associated with this filter is you’ll pay a premium for it.

Finally, polyester air filters are renowned for their exceptional ability to stop dust. In terms of design, they’re very similar to fiberglass air filters.

Purchase from the Right Manufacturer

Knowing what type of air filter you need can save you a lot of time and stress. You’ll still need to purchase from the right manufacturer, though. After all, not all manufacturers sell the same quality of filters. Some will be better than others, which is why you need to put a lot of time researching the various manufacturers.

Start off by visiting different manufacturer websites to see what types of filters they provide. If they do offer the air filter you’re looking for, follow up by seeing what reviews it has. Look for manufacturers that offer filters backed by a lot of positive reviews. You’ll then have more confidence using the air filter over the years, thanks to these positive experiences from consumers just like yourself.

It’s also a good idea to compare the costs of different manufacturers. Pull up inventory lists and compare them side by side. Try to find a manufacturer that offers the most competitive price. You then won’t have to worry as much about spending a lot of money and going over budget, even if you purchase air filters in bulk.

Install the New Filter

Probably the easiest step in this whole process is installing the new filter. You’ll need to find the air filter housing unit again and open up the top. With the new filter in your hand, slide it inside the box as far as it can go. Make sure the filter is snug, but don’t apply too much pressure when inserting it. Doing so could rupture the filter and make it not as effective. Finally, place the top back on the unit and secure the clips in place. This whole process shouldn’t take you longer than a minute.

Even though air filters don’t cost a lot of money, they still serve the important role of keeping your engine from overheating and prolonging its life expectancy. You only get these benefits, though, if you change out this filter at the proper intervals. You can do this – even without a lot of automotive experience – by following the aforementioned guide. It will ensure the right air filter is selected and installed correctly, the first time.


  1. Explain That Stuff – HEPA Filters
  2. Esquire – How to Change a Car’s Air Filter in 5 Easy Steps
  3. WikiHow – How to Change Your Air Filter