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FAQs Concerning Air Filters
How do I know when it's time to change my air filter?
Your mechanic should check the quality of your air filter with every regular oil change, but checking yourself is easy. If your filter shows visible signs of extreme dust or debris, such as falling dust if you shake the filter, it's probably a good time for a change.
How much do air filters cost?
The phrase starting with "You need to replace..." can send shivers down the spine of any car owner, but the air filter is one of the cheapest fixes in your vehicle. Many range from $15 to $25 depending on your car's make, model and engine.
What happens if I never change my car's air filter?
Dirty air filters restrict airflow to your engine which restricts both power and efficiency. Over time, a dirty air filter will cut down the mileage and affect how well your car accelerates and runs.
Buy replacement air filters online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgable Team Members help you.
Signs You Need a New Air Filter
A dirty air filter slows down your car. A really dirty air filter could let in dirt and debris that risks damaging your engine. These are the signs it's time to change yours for a fresh, clean air filter:
- Mechanic's Recommendation
Your mechanic should let you know when it's time to change your air filter, but you should use the steps below to confirm for yourself (and change your own because it's easy and will save money).
- Overall Mileage
When one tank of gas doesn't last as long as it did in the past.
- Overall Power
A noticeable reduction in acceleration or overall "sluggish" feel when you drive.
- Dirt & Debris
Dust or dirt falls out of your air filter when you remove it and give it a shake.
- Engine Noise
An especially dirty air filter can let debris into your car's spark plugs, causing engine noise and even misfiring.
Dark smog emits from your car's exhaust.
Types of Air Filter
There are three different types of engine air filters — paper, gauze, and foam. While you may not have to decide which one is right for your (most people will follow the manufacturer's recommendation), it's useful to know the difference.
- Paper Air Filters
This is the most common filter on the road and is the most affordable option for most people. However, because they are usually replaced every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, the cost of replacement can add up over time.
- Gauze Air Filters
These are a popular choice for long-term use because gauze filters can be cleaned and reused. There are two types of gauze air filters — oil and dry synthetic — and are made by popular aftermarket brands such as K&N. Oil gauze filters use oil to trap dirt and debris and need to be re-oiled every 5,000 to 10,000 miles after being cleaned, while dry synthetic gauze filters only need to be cleaned and re-installed.
- Foam Air Filters
These are more common in small motors such as lawnmowers, but some filters have a foam wrap which increases the protection of the air filter.
How to Install an Air Filter
Every car is different and you should check your owners manual for the specific steps of an air filter replacement, but most will follow these general steps:
- Open the hood of your car and find the intake. It usually looks like a big black box with a large hose leading into your engine and it's often explicitly labeled.
- Find any hooks, latches, or screws that hold it in place (there shouldn't be many). Undo them and lift up the intake cover, exposing the air filter.
- Pull out the air filter, playing close attention to how it was installed (some air filters point in a specific direction) and install the new one the same way.
Close up the intake, shut the hood, and you're off!