How to Replace an Engine Air Filter
Duration: 15 minutes
How often: Every 15,000 miles
Changing the engine air filter should be part of your routine maintenance schedule. You should replace an engine air filter every 30,000 miles or every three years. If you live in an especially dusty or dirty area, change it more often.
Air filter test: Shine a flashlight from the inside out of your air filter. If you can't see any light or very little light, it needs to be replaced. Change the breather filter and check the PCV at the same time. On most cars, this is a fairly simple procedure.
Things you'll need from your garage or your local NAPA Auto Parts store:
- Flat-Head/Phillips screwdrivers
- Adjustable wrench or open-end wrench
- Needle-nose pliers
- New replacement air filter
- New breather filter (if so equipped)
Step 1 – Locate the air filter housing under the hood.
It will likely be square (on fuel-injected engines) or round (on older carbureted engines) and about 12 in. (30 cm.) in diameter. On older vehicles, it will be in a large round housing on the top of the engine. On newer vehicles, it will be on the end of the large black intake hose opposite the engine mounted on one of the fender wells.
Step 2 – Remove screws or clamps.
Use a screwdriver to remove the screws or clamps that hold on the top of the housing. If you have an older vehicle with the round air filter housing, remove the wing nut holding the air filter cover and any other clips.
Step 3 – Remove the old air filter.
Take out the old air filter and clean any dirt and debris from the housing with a clean rag. Be careful that none falls into the carburetor or the intake. Remove the breather filter.
Step 4 – Install the new air and breather filters.
Replace the air cleaner top. Reinstall the attaching hardware and air intake hose (if applicable).
- When the air filter is out, you should replace the PCV filter as well. It should only take about 5 minutes.
- You'll need to know the year, make, model and, in some cases, engine type of your car when you buy supplies. If you use our NAPA Know How App, you can scan your VIN so you'll always have the information you need.