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Do-It-Yourself Auto Maintenance: How to Change Your Cars Air Filter

Updated on May 26, 2013
Dirty air filter
Dirty air filter | Source

Why do it yourself?

If you didn't already know, most auto repair shops that replace air filters will charge you extra money just for the actual installation of an air filter. This is ridiculous because it is such an easy thing to do, most often not even requiring any tools to do it! So unless you don't mind paying someone to do something so easy, I recommend doing this one yourself.

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Hood latchHood prop
Hood latch
Hood latch | Source
Hood prop
Hood prop | Source

How to check the air filter

Take a look under the hood

To check your vehicles air filter, first you will need to open your cars hood. To do this, pull the hood latch inside the cab to pop your hood. This is usually under the steering wheel down by the floor. Once your hood is poped, open the hood by pulling or pushing the latch inside the opening and pulling up on the hood. Find your hood prop on the inside and put it in place to keep the hood up.

Cold air collector box
Cold air collector box | Source
Box lid latch
Box lid latch | Source

Finding and opening the air collector box

Your vehicles air filter is inside your cold air collector box. This is most often a square shaped box with a large hose connected to it. It will be close to the front and to one side. Once you find it, determine how it is secured in place. You may need to unfasten a few screws or bolts, but most newer vehicles simply latch on and only requires flipping the latches to open the lid.

Unscrew any nuts or screws or pop the latches to undo the lid and lift it off. You may have to pull it to the side if it is secured with tabs on the opposite side of the lid. Push the box lid and hose to the side to access the air filter.

Take a look at the filter

The air filter should pull right out, so take it out and check it for dirt and debris. If it is black and full of dirt, change it immediately. But, if you're not sure here are a few things you can do to check it:

  • Hold the filter up to the sun or another bright light, if you cannot see through it you should change it.
  • Try gently tapping the filter on the ground or blowing it out to remove trapped dirt, if you still cannot see through the filter, you may need to change it.

New filter installed
New filter installed | Source

How to install a new air filter

Get your new air filter and compare it to your old one to make sure you have the right size filter. If so, simply set the new filter in place in the cold air collector box where you removed your old one. Make sure you have it in the same way as your old one was installed. The rubber rim should be facing up to create a good seal. If installed correctly, its time to reattach the box lid. Set it in place and fasten it back in by the reversing the process used to take it off.

Once you have the air collector box closed and secured, lift your hood up and put your hood prop back down. When you're sure you have the hood prop and everything else out of the way, close your hood carefully. Make sure your hood is closed all the way by shoving down on the front of it using your body weight. Check it by lifting up on the front edge of the hood, if its not budging, then you're good.

And that's it! Now you never have to worry about those jerks at the express oil change place harassing you about your dirty air filter when all you wanted was an oil change. It is recommended to replace your air filter at least once a year, or every 15,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Now It's Your Turn!

After reading this Hub, how likely is it that you will begin changing your own air filters?

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