Your engine’s air filter is a lot like your car’s lungs. In order for it to run efficiently, function properly and pass clean air through the system, the filter must be cleaned and installed correctly. To that end, auto maintenance and repair specialist The Humble Mechanic offers these tips for inspecting your engine’s air filter.
Checking and replacing the car’s engine air filter can be a really easy DIY project. Think of your engine is a giant air pump. Air is pumped in and then pumped back out. In order to keep dirt and debris from entering our engine, we have a filter.
It’s incredibly important to make sure that the engine air filter is installed properly and is clean. Otherwise, it won’t do its job to filter the air. An air filter that’s incorrectly installed can let dirt or debris past it. It can also change the way air enters the engine and cause an incorrect reading from your vehicle’s computer. A dirty or clogged air filter can cause the engine to work harder than it really needs to.
While there can be any number of ways an engine air filter is installed in your car, they can generally be removed with basic hand tools.
Before removing the air filter for inspection, you want to make sure the area is clean from debris. Either vacuum or blow out any leaves dust or dirt to prevent that from getting into the air filter housing.
Next, remove the bolts, screws or clips that hold the air filter box together. Some vehicles may require a connector to be unplugged or a clamp to be removed. Next, lift the top portion of the air filter housing off and inspect the filter from the top. Look for any damage, especially around the outer edge.
Next, remove the air filter and inspect it for debris. If you’re simply inspecting the filter, you want to be careful not to cause any damage to it. One way to look for dirt and debris in the filter is to drop it from about two feet. Then, inspect how much debris comes out of it. A clean air filter generally won’t have much debris fall out, whereas a dirty or clogged air filter may drop a lot of debris. You’ll also want to look at the bottom side of the air box. If there’s any dirt, debris or leaves, we want to make sure we remove that as well.
When installing the air filter, make sure that it’s fully seated in the air box. A good way to do this is to run a finger around the outer edge and make sure that it’s sitting properly. If it’s not installed it properly, it could cause damage to the filter. Taking the extra second or two to double check the entire edge of the filter is going to be well worth the time.
When putting the air filter box back together, make sure it’s fully seated as well. Tighten the screws or bolts, or put the clips on. If you disconnected any connectors or removed any clamps, make sure those get reinstalled as well. It’s also a good idea to document when you inspected or replaced your engine air filter.
When it comes to when to inspecting and replacing, a yearly inspection is a good idea, and then replace as needed or follow the recommendation in your vehicle owner’s manual.
Car maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these steps and keep up with regular inspections and your car will thank you! It’s also good to have the right insurance coverage on you vehicle, and doing that is easy too; just contact a Colonial agent and let us help you choose the coverage that’s right for you.