How Long Should You Replace Your Car's Air Filter?

Learn how often you should replace your car's air filter based on manufacturer recommendations and driving conditions.

How Long Should You Replace Your Car's Air Filter?

A general rule of thumb is to keep track of how long the air filter has been in place. The recommended average length of service is approximately 10,000 to 15,000 miles, which for most people is approximately every year. But keep in mind that, as with most things related to your car, this is just a recommendation and doesn't take into account your individual driving situation. Replacement frequency varies by manufacturer and driving conditions.

Some manufacturers suggest that the filter needs to be changed every 15,000 miles. Others say every two years, while others say every 30,000 miles or more. The recommended interval for your vehicle will be detailed in the maintenance program section of the owner's manual. The air filter should be changed approximately every 6,000 to 10,000 miles, and ideally at the same time as changing the oil.

At the very least, you should have it inspected. In a nutshell, taking a look costs nothing, and you could avoid costly repairs later on. If you are coughing and sputtering, or if you vibrate excessively when you turn the engine, you are most likely ordering a new air filter. In today's fuel-injected engines, electronic controls decide the amount of fuel to be introduced into the engine, based in part on the amount of air that enters.

If the owner's manual says it's time to replace the filter, it's best to take care of the replacement, rather than waiting for you to start seeing other problems. Maintenance schedules for different vehicle brands differ in how often the air filter needs to be changed. According to Prokopenko, the air filter is “one of the most overlooked maintenance items in a car. A Department of Energy study found that the electronic engine controls of modern vehicles are “sophisticated enough to prevent a clogged air filter from affecting the vehicle's fuel economy. If you've recently noticed that you need to refill your gas tank more often than usual, it's probably time to check your air filter.

A good rule of thumb is to inspect your air filter (or ask a mechanic to do it for you) at least once a year. The cabin air filter is usually located under the dashboard and behind the glove compartment, and air passing through it enters through the base of the windshield and bypasses the engine. If a clogged filter reduces the amount of air entering, those controls reduce the amount of fuel accordingly to maintain the proper mix of driving, emissions, and other factors. In any case, it is a smart and proactive policy to inspect at least the air filter every 6,000 miles (9,656 kilometers). We expect drivers in most cases to spend more than a year, at least, and probably more than two years between air filter changes, depending on conditions and mileage.

However, engines rely on clean, good airflow to produce power and rapid acceleration, so restricting the amount of air will definitely affect performance. Over time, as dust and dirt build up, the air filter will darken and dirt will be noticeable. Be sure to monitor your air filter and replace it when you start to notice signs that it is clogged, and keep your car in perfect condition for as long as possible.

Sophia Walker
Sophia Walker

Tvaholic. Friendly pop culture expert. Friendly beer lover. General pop culture geek. Wannabe internet advocate. Lifelong music enthusiast.

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