How Often To Change Car Air Filter: The Ultimate Guide

How Often To Change Car Air Filter

Changing your car air filter is an important yet often neglected task. It’s responsible for keeping the engine clean and running smoothly by trapping dirt and debris before it can enter the system. 

Not only does a dirty air filter diminish your car’s performance, but it can also be a health hazard. 

Changing your car’s air filter is a quick and easy task that only requires a couple of minutes and a few basic supplies.  

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In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about changing your car air filter: how often to do it, what type of filters are available, and more!

How Often To Change Car Air Filter?

As a general guideline, your air filter needs replacement after a year or after each 12,000-15,000 miles, whichever comes first. 

How often you need to change your car’s air filter depends on various factors, including your vehicle’s make, the type of filter you have, and the driving conditions in your area. 

For instance, if you drive in a dusty area, you’ll need to change your air filter more often. If you only drive short distances, you may go longer between changes. 

If you’re unsure, you should check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.

What Is An Air Filter, And What Does It Do? 

An engine air filter is an integral part of your car that helps clean the engine. 

The engine air filter is a small, cylindrical object located near the front of the engine. It is usually made of paper, foam, or cotton and has a mesh screen on the front to catch debris. The filter is enclosed in plastic housing, which can be removed for cleaning.

The engine air filter eliminates dirt, dust, and other debris from the air(such as leaves) before entering the engine. 

It helps prevent dirt and dust from collecting inside the engine, which can cause damage and reduce performance.

Signs Its Time To Change Air Filter

To ensure that your vehicle remains in good condition, you must replace the engine air filter when it needs replacement. Most carmakers recommend that you change the engine air filter at least every 12,000 miles. 

In addition, you should also be aware of the following signs that indicate it’s time to replace the engine air filter:

Poor performance

The air filter may be clogged and need to be replaced for a car that isn’t running as smoothly as it used or used more gas than usual. 

You may experience a loss in power, difficulty starting your car, or not accelerating as quickly as it used to.

Other signs include;

  • Excessive noise from the engine: you can hear the engine working harder than usual.
  • A decrease in gas mileage
  • Black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe
  • Your car smells bad, especially after turning it on
  • The airflow from the vents seems weak
  • You can see black dust build-up on the filter
  • More dust and dirt are accumulating inside the car.
  • The check engine light is on.

Reasons For Changing Your Air Filter

You may want to change your air filter; some of the most common reasons are to;

  • Better car performance
  • To avoid black smoke
  • To save on fuel

4 Types of Car Filters and What They Do for You

There are four car filters; air, oil, cabin air, and fuel filters. Each filter has a specific purpose in keeping your car running smoothly and needs to be replaced at different intervals.

Fuel Filters

The fuel passes through a fuel filter before reaching the engine and, in the process eliminating impurities.

You should replace the fuel filter at the intervals specified by the vehicle manufacturer. A dirty fuel filter could cause the engine to run poorly, reduce your gas mileage, and even lead to engine failure.

Most cars need to have their fuel filters replaced every 30,000 miles. However, there are a lot of factors that go into when to change your car’s fuel filter. One of the most important is driving habits.

If you’re someone who drives a lot, then you’ll need to change your fuel filter more often than someone who doesn’t drive as much. 

And if you use high-quality fuel, you won’t need to change your fuel filter as often. But if you use low-quality fuel, you’ll need to change it more often.

Oil Filter

The oil filter helps to protect your engine from dirt, dust, and other particles. It also helps to keep the oil clean and free of contaminants. 

It is the first line of defense against dirt and other contaminants in engine oil. It removes these impurities before they can cause damage to the engine. It would be best to change oil filters every 5000-7000 miles.

Air Filters

Before entering the engine, the air filter filters out dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. This helps to keep the engine clean and prevents possible damage.

Cabin Air Filters

This type of filter keeps pollen and dust out of the car’s interior. Cabin air filters help protect the car’s occupants from respiratory problems and other health issues. You should change your cabin air filter to;

  • Improve your car air quality
  • Improve your energy efficiency
  • Make your car cleaner by reducing the amount of dust and allergens in it
  • Increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
  • Extend the life of your AC system.
  • Avoid safety and visibility issues.

Difference Between Air Filter And Cabin Air Filter

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between an air filter and a cabin air filter. They’re two different things, although people will often use them interchangeably.

  • In a nutshell, an air filter keeps impurities out of the engine, while a cabin air filter keeps them out of the cabin and inside the vehicle.

On the one hand, an air filter keeps impurities out of the engine. It is located in the engine compartment and is usually made of paper or cotton. 

The air filter is the part of the ventilation system that cleans the air coming into the car from the outside. 

On the other hand, a cabin air filter removes small particles from the air inside the car. It is located in the passenger compartment, near the glove box, and is usually activated carbon. Cabin air filters are critical because they help keep the car’s interior clean and smell good.

Types Of Air Filters To Choose From

1. Paper Air Filters

The first type of air filter is the paper air filter. They are made of a thin sheet of paper pleated to increase the surface area. This increased surface area allows more air to flow through the filter and less resistance.

They also work well at trapping large particles in the air. The disadvantage of this type of filter is that it does not last as long as other types and can be challenging to clean.

2. Gauze Air Filters

Gauze air filters use an oil-coated mesh material to trap particles in the air as it passes through. They effectively trap larger particles and are relatively cheap and easy to replace. 

While oiled gauze is the most common type of reusable air filter, other manufacturers utilize a synthetic dry gauze that must be cleaned regularly with a specific cleaning solution.

3. Foam Air Filters

Another type of air filter is the foam air filter. They are made of soft, open-cell foam to catch larger particles and do not need to be replaced as often as the paper air filter. 

Foam air filters trap smaller particles than gauze air filters and usually last longer. The only drawback is that they are more expensive and difficult to replace.

A foam pre-cleaner wrap is a terrific addition that will increase the service intervals of your air filter and safeguard your engine if your vehicle is subjected to very dusty circumstances.

How Much Do Car Air Filters Cost?

An average air filter costs as low as $10 each and anywhere up to $70, depending on the brand. 

Many usually cost $ 15-$25. Some high-end cars come with a built-in air filter that does not need to be replaced, but most do. 

If you include the mechanic’s labor, the cost will escalate to $60-$200. Changing the air filter is a relatively affordable repair. 

You should do essential maintenance regularly to keep your car operating smoothly. And if you choose to do it yourself, you can avoid labor charges.


The air filter is an integral part of your car that you should change regularly. Most carmakers recommend changing the air filter every 12,000-15000 miles. However, this can vary depending on the make and model of your car and the driving you do.

We’ve provided you with a comprehensive guide to air filter replacement in this article. We hope this guide has been helpful! Thanks for reading!