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How Often Should You Change the Engine Air Filter?

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You should change the engine air filter once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. However, you should keep an eye for the common symptoms of a bad engine air filter where you must replace it before then:

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  • Weird engine noises
  • Lack of power
  • Reduction in the fuel economy
  • Check engine light illuminating
  • Dirty filter
  • Engine misfiring
  • Weird smoke and flames coming out of the tailpipe
  • Strong gasoline smell

Your vehicle contains several filters, and they do a very similar job of preventing contaminants or debris from getting to sensitive components. One of the very critical filters in your vehicle is the engine air filter. Its importance is because it has to do with how your engine performs.

Since the engine air filter is not designed to last forever, there will be a point of time when you must replace it. This article will walk you through all the details about the engine air filter, along with how often you should change it and how much it will cost you to place it.

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What is the engine air filter, and what does it do?

As the name suggests, the engine air filter is responsible for filtering the air inside the engine. Any air getting inside the engine cylinders should be clean, and if it has some contaminants or debris, it leads to some problems that you never want to deal with and could cause damage to the entire engine.

The air filter allows clean air to get to the engine while blocking any foreign elements from getting inside. In addition, the air filter is fine enough to prevent any small contaminants or debris from getting inside.

Overtime of videos, this air filter gets clogged because it collects a lot of debris or contaminants during the lifetime of the air filter. Therefore, every driver needs to understand when to replace it. Otherwise, you'll deal with significant engine problems, and you'll see that your engine is not operating as it should.

What's the difference between the engine air filter and the cabin air filter?

Many people get confused between the engine air filter and the cabin air filter. As we mentioned, the engine air filter is the one next to the engine and is responsible for cleaning the engine's air to ensure the best engine performance here at

On the other hand, the cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning the air getting inside the vehicle's interior. In other words, the cabin air filter has to do with the air that you breathe in as you're driving your car. Of course, if you have health problems or if any of your passengers complain of respiratory issues, you must maintain a high-quality clean cabin air filter all the time.

However, when it comes to which one is the most critical to your vehicle’s performance between the cabin air filter and the engineer filter, it is the engineer filter because at that engine air filter might lead to catastrophic outcomes that could cost you the entire engine here, on the other hand, the cabin air filter might not impact how your vehicle operates.

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How often should you change the engine air filter?

Since the engine air filter is an essential component and has to do with how your engine performs, you need to understand how often you should change the engine air filter. Typically, you will need to change this air filter once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.

What are the symptoms of a bad Engine air filter?

While there is a rough estimate of a threshold where you have to change the engine air filter, sometimes the air filter might get clogged prematurely, and that's where the main symptoms of a bad engine air filter come into play.

Whenever you notice any of the following symptoms, you must inspect the engine air filter and replace it if it's bad immediately:

1.    Weird engine noises

The first and most comment symptom indicates that your engineer filter is clogged when you notice some weird noises coming from the engine. Typically, these noises are more like spluttering, popping, or even coughing.

What's happening here is that the engine is trying to pull a specific amount of air, but because of the clogged air filter, this air is not flowing as it should.

2.    Lack of power

The other thing you might do with is a lack of power when the air filter is clocked. As we mentioned before, the engine will spend a lot of energy trying to bring more air inside the cylinders, and as it tries, it consumes too much energy. So, therefore, in the set of providing you with the energy to have your vehicle moved as you try to accelerate, the engine will not use it for that purpose.

Whenever you notice any lack of power, it could be that the air filter is clogged. Therefore, you cannot have your mechanic look at the air filter and confirm that it's not clogged or replace it if it is clogged.

3.    Reduction in the fuel economy

Your engine requires a specific amount of air and fuel to work properly. If the engine does not receive the right amount of air, it will be using more fuel than it should. Thus, you will immediately notice that your vehicle consumes more fuel than it should.

For example, if you realize that you'll have to go to the gas station more frequently than before, it could be a problem with a clogged air filter. However, you cannot confirm and go ahead and replace the air filter without reaching the mechanic and ensuring that the air filter is causing the reduction in fuel economy.

4.    Check engine light illuminating

Your vehicle relies on the check engine light to communicate with you and grab your attention to internal problems. Therefore, it is important that whenever you see a check engine light illuminating, never ignore it because you can easily deal with significant problems that could cost you thousands of dollars on repair.

One of the very common reasons for a check engine light illuminating is a clogged air filter. But, again, you cannot completely confirm that it's the air filter without further research.

For example, you can use a small scanner called the OBD, which allows you to scan the engine's computer and determine its error. You can read a specific code once you look at the OBD scanner. Depending on the type of your scanner, you might also get more information about the meaning of this code. Otherwise, you can search on Google for the meaning of these codes to determine whether it's linked to a bad air filter or not.

Doing this quick check saves you a lot of money on labor costs. But, of course, suppose you have the right level of mechanical skill sets. In that case, you could immediately go ahead and replace the engineer filter yourself without needing any visit to the independent shop. But, of course, if you've never done it before, automotive experts always recommend leaving it to professionals to prevent introducing errors and mistakes that could cost you more money than what you expect.

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5.    Dirty filter

Another thing you can do is to perform a quick visual inspection. For example, you can look at the air filter and see if it has dirt. First, of course, you'll need to know what the original clean air filter looked like before to confirm whether The Dirty air filter is extreme or not.

You can Google some air filters on the Internet and see what the clean versus dirty one looks like. The other thing you need to know is where the engine air filter is located here. Typically, you need to look into your vehicle's owner’s manual for detailed guidance. Still, you can also search for your vehicles type on the Internet and get some youtube videos or other tutorials to help you find the engine air filter.

6.    Engine misfiring

As we mentioned before, your engine requires a precise amount of fuel to air. So if this amount is disturbed or if it does not come in the right quantities, then you're dealing with what's known as engine firing. So engine misfiring is critical, and it impacts your vehicle's overall performance and can also lead to triggering the check engine light.

7.    Weird smoke and flames coming out of the tailpipe

In some severe instances, you might even notice that some flames or smoke come out of the tailpipe in a weird dark color. Typically, by driving your car longer, you'll get used to what the tailpipe smoke should look like. However, if this smoke is darker and has some flames, this is a severe scenario where you must maybe stop driving your car and consult your mechanic immediately.

Your mechanic should be able to tell you whether you can continue driving your car or whether you should tell it to the nearest independent shop instead.

8.    Strong gasoline smell

When your engine tries to suck more air to burn the gasoline and cannot, you'll notice that it will suck more gasoline than it should, and that's when you'll notice a strong gasoline smell inside your car.

We've discussed in previous articles about the gasoline smell in your vehicle that could be linked to multiple components. For example, a bad fuel line or part of the fuel system might lead to this strong gasoline smell.

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How much does it cost to replace the engine air filter?

The good news is that changing the air filter is not very expensive. The full replacement costs shouldn't exceed $85. However, if you are driving a luxury vehicle, the price can climb up slightly but not a lot.

Therefore, you must understand the significance of the negative consequences you might face if you ignore changing the engine air filter. By comparing the price of the engine air filter replacement to the negative consequences you'll deal with when ignoring it, you shouldn't think twice about replacing it.

Can you drive with a bad engine air filter?

Never a good idea. Depending on the severity of the clogging, you might get to a point where you can't drive your vehicle completely. For example, if your engine does not receive any ear, it cannot create an explosion to generate the energy. Therefore, there won't be any energy to move your car.

In some instances, a clogged air filter might lead to other problems in your engine compartment that are beyond repair. Therefore, to prevent getting into these situations, you should be proactive about changing your air filter and replacing it when needed.


Final thoughts

The engine air filter is a critical component that ensures that any air inside the engine is clean enough to generate the required energy without causing any problems. Unfortunately, over time reviews, this filter gets clogged, and that's when you must replace it.

Understanding “how often you should change the engine air filter” is essential to prevent dealing with significant issues requiring costly repairs. Typically, you'll need to change the Air filter once there are some situations where you must replace it before you notice any symptoms of a bad engineer filter.

If your air filter resulted in significant problems, it might not be worth your time, effort, money to get it to work. Instead, you should focus on fixing the big problems first, and in some instances, getting these problems resolved might require a lot of money. Therefore, selling your car would make the most sense instead of wasting your efforts. Who would want to buy a car with major engine problems? Well, Cash cars buyer does!

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