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Home » Auto Ownership, DIY, Videos

How to Replace the Air Filter in a Car

Last updated by on 11 Comments

Changing your vehicle’s air filter is an extremely easy way to save $30 or so per year versus having a mechanic or auto dealership do the same thing. And the great thing is, it literally takes about 5 minutes to do.

I have been quoted between $35-40 for the parts (an air filter) and the labor from an auto shop to replace the air filter in my car.

That doesn’t sound bad on the surface, and if you’re not a DIY’er or scared of opening your car’s hood, you might jump at something like that. Don’t! I was able to purchase the exact same air filter at a local auto parts store for $7 and replace it in minutes.

I’ll show you how to replace your air filter.

Steps to Replace an Air Filter in a Vehicle

  1. car air filterFind the housing. It is shaped like a round pan in older vehicles or a square box in newer ones (your manual will show you what it looks like if you’re not sure).
  2. Pull out the old filter. Look for dirt. If it’s a grayish color, it probably needs to be replaced. You’ll have to un-screw the housing to open it.
  3. Vacuum or wipe out the filter housing.
  4. Pop the new air filter in.

You’re done! If you do it once, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to be able to do it again.

How Often Should you Change an Air Filter?

It’s usually recommended that you change the air filter every 12-15 months or about once a year.

Why Do you Need to Change the Air Filter?

The auto’s engine breathes through the air filter, which filters out dirt and other nasty stuff so that it can’t reach the engine. Replacing it can result in improved gas mileage and quicker acceleration.

How to Change Air Filter Video

Here’s a very simple and easy to follow video on how to change your car’s air filter:

Auto Maintenance Discussion:

  • Have you changed your car’s air filter before?
  • Did it surprise you how easy it was?
  • What other auto maintenance do you do on your own?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


11 Comments »
  • Sarah says:

    I changed my own air filter once. It was going okay except the lid to the housing was very hard to replace. Fortunately, when you’re a cute girl in the parking lot of an AutoZone, it’s easy to get someone to give you a hand. I’ll give it another try one of these days, but only if there are people around.

  • Paul says:

    When you are in there spend an extra couple bucks for a high quality filter. The paper type restrict airflow and kill gas mileage. A good dry flow filter can be had for a about $50 bucks but never needs to be replaced, just cleaned. You will easily make up the extra $$ by increased gas mileage as well.

    People tend to over think cars.

    Air filter, spark plugs, and oil are all easy enough that we should do on our own (oil can be tough if you don’t have a place to do it).

    Even brakes are pretty darn easy!

  • Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says:

    I buy my filters from Auto Zone or O’Relley’s and the employees always help me out by doing it for me…sometimes being a girl kicks butt. And I’m just a friendly, overweight married lady…those guys are just really nice.

  • Mrs. Money says:

    Umm I don’t know if the air filter has EVER been replaced in my car. Oops!

  • BradKP says:

    Air filters are quite easy to change. Once you know how to do it, you don’t have to pay a mechanic to do it. Besides, these filters are also available cheaply. A good way to maintain your car is to replace it every 15,000 miles. And do not, at any cost, use wrong sized filer. Efficiency of your engine would drop considerably. A very good article Miller.

  • PureFi says:

    Very helpful post – especially with the video. I am going to see if I can do this in my car. I’m interested in learning more about DIY car items (that are pretty easy) since that is an easy way to save $$. I definitely would rather spend the $35-40 on something else.

  • Credit Girl says:

    Perfect timing! I think it’s about time I change mine and I was planning on taking it this weekend but I guess if I could just learn from here that save me some $!

  • Yeah, this is a great tip. People say changing your own oil can save you lots of money instead of taking them to places like Jiffy Lube. Yet this statement is true, changing your own oil is not as easy as you think if you don’t have the right equipment and an easy to use lift or jack. But in the case with air filter, I believe anyone can do this, even if you have no experience with tools whatsoever. I always replace my own air filter and it’s the easiest thing in the world. Great article and a great reminder.

  • getoutofdebt says:

    Try going to your local military base. They have jacks and lifts that you can rent by the hour or 1/2 hour.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ I have a hard time seeing the cost savings of changing your own oil. When you price out 5 quarts, a filter, and the tools needed to do it, it actually ends up being close to or more than having a local mechanic do it for $20 or so. Not to mention the time involved in doing it.

  • Karen says:

    Thanks for the article-I forgot about that.It’s definatly time to change it-because I’ve owned the van for 1 year & 3 months now & it’s never been changed since I bought it.

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