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It’s easy to remember when you should change the oil filter on your car or truck - but what about the air filter? With no helpful warning light or reminder sticker, is there any way to tell when you should replace it?

As the owner of a car, you need to know what an air filter is and why and how you should replace it. Read ahead to find the answers so that you can help your car run as efficiently as possible and ensuring it isn’t damaged.

What Do Air Filters Do?

More than you might think! When air comes into your vehicle, it passes through the air filter. This removes dust, pollen, air pollution, and other airborne particles out of the air before they enter the engine.

Although these filters perform well, they can also cause problems when they aren’t changed regularly and allowed to clog up.

How Can Dirty Air Filters Affect Your Vehicle?

When clean air isn’t moving easily into the engine, it can affect how your car drives. When the engine has to work harder, you might notice:

  • Decrease in gas mileage and have to fill up your gas tank up more than usual
  • Less power
  • Difficulty starting the motor
  • The “Check Engine” light is on
  • Dust building up on the dashboard and other interior surfaces
  • The smell of engine oil when you start the vehicle

Remember, changing clogged air filters is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s four recommended ways to improve gas mileage. But how should and can you do this?

How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?

Your owner’s manual is a good place to start. Most automobile manufacturers will recommend replacing your air filter every 15,000 - 30,000 miles. However, there are individual conditions that should be considered.

If you regularly drive on dirt roads, sand, or in areas of high pollution, replace your filters more often. These will all add higher levels of particulate to your air filter. Vehicles with turbocharged engines should also replace the air filter more frequently.

Lastly, for vehicles that aren’t driven often, replace the filter at least every three years. Even with few miles driven, the materials in the filter itself can become brittle and break down.

Where Is My Air Filter and How Can I Visually Inspect It?

Consult your car or truck’s owners manual for the location of the air filter.

You may be able to easily lift off the cover and check the filter for signs that it needs to be changed yourself.

A newer filter will still look white when held up to the light. If it looks gray, it’s time to replace it.

Can I Replace My Air Filter Myself?

It’s usually not difficult to replace the air filter on your car or truck yourself.

First, as mentioned above, you’ll need to consult your owner’s manual and locate the box where the filter is located.

Once you have found it, it can be a very simple process. If you’re able to remove the air filter to check it’s a condition, you will be able to replace it with a new one.

Wrapping Up

Changing your car or truck’s air filter regularly is an inexpensive way to ensure your driving is more pleasant, and that your vehicle will last longer and perform better.

Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended timing, and keep in mind special driving conditions that can require more frequent changes.

It’s something most vehicle owners can handle on their own, with instant benefits.

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