Air Filter Replacement Guide

The air filter in your car is used to clean the air which enters the engine while it is running and producing power for the car, truck or SUV. Positioned in plain sight, the filter is inside the filter housing which is attached to the intake tube and then to the throttle actuator of the engine where the cleaned air enters the engine.

Most people do not realize the importance of the air cleaner because they do not know how much air the engine processes under normal running conditions, trust me, it's a lot.

Please watch the video below to get an idea of what you are in for when changing a filter and then continue through the guide for little nuances you should know when replacing your vehicle’s filter.

A vehicle's engine air filter is a replaceable cleansing unit. In most cases a filter can be replaced in under 15 minutes. The filter should be changed between 6,000 and 12,000 miles depending on how dirty the roads are in which the vehicle is driven on. Never have a repair garage or the dealer replace it, if you do it yourself you can treat yourself to a nice night out with the money you save, and the parts are easy to get either at Amazon or your local auto parts store.

There are many levels of quality when it comes to filters you want to get the OEM (factory) unit, it costs a little more, but it is the best way to protect your investment. If you choose a cheap filter you may be allowing dirt particles to enter the engine which can cause premature wear and could possibly lead to a catastrophic engine failure.

To determine if your filter needs to be changed remove the filter housing, it is held together by either retainer clips or screws. Once you have the housing off remove the filter and gently tap it on the ground while watching for dirt or particles, if you can see dirt and particles coming off of the filter it means it is filled to capacity and replacement is needed.

When the filter plugs up due to non-maintenance it causes low engine power, the good news is this problem is easy to fix. Replacing the filter should be included in your regular maintenance regiment of changing the engine oil or a tune up. Learn more

I have created this simple step by step replacement instructions just for you, though configurations may vary the process is the same, there is a complete list of filter replacement videos at our YouTube channel, so check it out. Learn more

This particular repair was performed on a Chevy Tahoe. You will need basic tools a shop towel and maybe some gloves if you don't want to get your hands dirt. I always wear latex or vinyl gloves. Let’s get started

Step 1

Locate the filter housing it is connected to the air intake tube and follows to the throttle actuator of the engine. This housing holds and seals the filter in place to prevent unfiltered air to bypass which would allow dirt into the engine. Sometimes the housing will be located either on the right or left side of the engine bay and mounted to the fender or on the engine itself such as in the video above.

Filter Housing

Step 2

There are a series of screws or clips that holds the upper lid to the lower half. The air intake boot may need to be removed or loosened to help in the removal of the filter housing lid.

Removing Filter Housing Fasteners

Step 3

Once all of the hold down bolts or clips have been removed or released, gently remove the lid to expose the filter.

Removing Filter Housing Lid

Step 4

After exposing the filter reach into the housing and grasp it, sometimes it can be stuck in the housing due to the filter seal which is made of rubber and has been pressed into place by the housing lid. If the filter is stuck, use a standard screwdriver it break it loose, this will aid in the removal of it.

Removing Filter

Step 5

Grasp the filter as you remove it and hold the housing lid upward to make clearance for the removal. If you notice engine oil on the old filter and in the housing itself it is because of two different reasons, the first is the PCV positive crankcase ventilation system is plugged or broken, such as the valve or diaphragm.

This failure forces crankcase pressure into the filter housing hence the engine oil. The second reason for engine oil on the filter is that the engine is worn out and the positive crankcase pressure is excessive beyond the systems capabilities. This condition is due to worn out piston rings (blow-by) which over powers the PCV system.

Removing Old Filter

Step 6

Once the filter has been removed clean the housing with a damp shop towel or compressed air. This ensures that any debris which has been knocked into housing when the filter was removed will be cleaned out before the new unit is installed. This is necessary to keep loose dirt from entering the engine intake.

Cleaning Filter Housing

Step 7

Once the old filter has been removed, remove the new filter from the box, we always suggest using OEM replacement parts for quality and a proper fit.

New Filter

Step 8

Now match the new filter to the old filter, they should be an identical in length, height and thickness.

Matching New Filter

Step 9

When installing the new filter use caution as not to bend or disfigure the filter in anyway. This could cause the filter to not seal completely within the housing. Make sure to hold the lid of the filter upward to aid in the installation.

Installing New Filter

Step 10

When installing the new filter confirm a positive placement by checking at the seal point of the filter to the housing then install the lid or cover. It is important that the seal of the filter is not cut or crushed due to improper installation; it is worth taking an extra few seconds and do the job right.

Filter Seal

Step 11

Then lower the filter lid and start tightening the lid screws or installing the clips. You want to do this in a cross pattern, this will help the lid seal squarely into the new filter. Now you are all set.

You did the job right while saving money and ensuring a top quality replacement part. I always like wiping the filter housing off with a shop towel when complete, it just makes me feel good that the job was done to the best of my ability.

Installing Air Filter Housing Fasteners
For a full line of air filter replacement videos are available on our YouTube channel. Learn more

If you have any question about changing your filter please visit our forum where hundreds of question have been answered by our experts. Learn more


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