Fall Auto DIY Project #4
We are back at it again with our 5 simple Fall Auto DIY projects. (Fall Auto DIY Project #1 is here, #2 is here, #3 part 1 is here, #3 part 2 is here, and #3 part 3 is here in case you missed them) Today we are almost at the end of the series with Fall Auto DIY Project #4, replacing your air filter.
Air filters can get to a point where they cause enough of a pressure drop to restrict the air flow, decreasing your fuel economy, causing poor performance, and continuing to get worse until the air filter needs to be replaced. We recommend replacing your air filter twice a year, so if you haven’t done so already now is the perfect time.
How to Replace Your Air Filter
Pop the Hood. Most newer model vehicles will have a hood release found on under the driver’s side dashboard. So, pull the release lever and then walk around the front of the car, reach under the hood, find the latch and squeeze it. As you squeeze the latch, open the hood. NOTE: Make sure you start out with a cool engine so, you eliminate any chance of getting burned.
Gather your tools. You only need a few things for this project and chances are you already have them. Depending on your make and model you will need a different set of tools. For the 2012 Ford Focus that we used for this demonstration we needed a ratchet, socket, and extender, but again it varies.
- a standard screwdriver
- a Phillips screwdriver
- a ratchet, socket, and extender
Locate the Air Filter. Typically, the air filter is located in a black plastic casing near the center-top of the engine. It will be the largest non-metal assembly you see, about the size of a loaf of bread. If you are still unsure of where it is, check your owner’s manual for the precise location of it.
Open the Air Filter Housing. Most of them are held together by a few large metal clips along the side. Slide the standard screwdriver between the casing and the clip and then pry the clip away. Continue around the case loosening all of the retaining clips which should allow you to open the case up. There are a few air filter housing units that are held together with screws, so in that case you would have to unscrew them all to open up the housing and get to the air filter with the proper tool according to what type of screws are used.
Inspect the Air Filter. Pull out the filter. You can easily see it as it’s typically flat, elongated, and made of a paper element with rubber edges to seal it against the casing. Inspect it for cleanliness. We recommend holding it up to the sunlight and (while keeping it at arm’s length from your face, if you wear contacts we advice wearing safety goggles to prevent any issues) bend it back, so the paper ridges of the filter flutter like the pages of a book, and look inside the crevices. If you see a lot of accumulated dirt and grime and the orange or yellow paper is mostly dirty in the center you should replace it. You can also use a small flash light to inspect the filter in the same manner. Filters vary on price depending on your make and model, they can be anywhere from $10 to $50, but relatively inexpensive.
Close Up Shop. Close up the casing and replace the clips/screws. We would recommend putting the old air filter in a plastic bag, so that you can bring it with you to our parts team to compare old with new and make sure you get the right replacement. Once you purchase the new air filter just follow the same steps above to reopen the air filter housing and then place the new filter in where the old one was located. Also make sure you close up your hood and hear it latch. There you have it as easy as pie!
Replacing your air filter on a regular basis is the one of most important acts of maintenance you can perform for your engine. If you do it your engine will generally thank you by giving you lots of happy miles & smiles.
Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below.