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How to Clean Car Air Filter – Learn How to Prevent A Clogged Filter! 

How often should I change my car's air filter?

You can clean car air filters yourself to save money on the repair and replacement costs. Make sure that when you learn how to clean the car air filter process that you could potentially make errors that can lead to a higher chance of further repair costs. Make sure the filter you use is compatible with the type of cleaning you are doing, such as disposable air filters being replaced or permanent filters being washed between uses. 

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Drivers need to know the function of their car air filter, signs of a dirty filter, how to clean your filter, and what happens if you don’t perform regular maintenance on your air cooling system. 

What is the car air filter?

A car engine combines air and gas in the combustion chamber to gain the power needed to have your car run. This air reaches the engine through the air filter, working consistently to keep out any unwanted debris, contaminants, and dirt. 


If this air filter becomes damaged, dirty, or worn down over time, the dust and debris will make its way through the filter. The air filter must allow enough air to reach the engine to perform effectively – a dirty air filter will not be able to carry out this function. This is why it is important you learn ‘how to clean car air filter.’

Signs of a Dirty Air Filter

  • Reduced Fuel Economy

Your engine will try to work harder and compensate for a lower amount of oxygen within your system by consuming more fuel. This will cause reduced fuel efficiency and lead to your car earning fewer miles per gallon for the same amount of fuel. If you notice that your gas mileage is lowering, this is a sign of a dirty air filter. 

  • Misfiring

A lack of air supply coming through a dirty air filter can lead to unburnt fuel, causing wasted gasoline to exit the engine without being used. This unused fuel accumulates and forms soot, which then gathers on the spark plug. 

  • If the spark plug becomes contaminated or broken down over time, it can’t deliver the necessary spark at the right time to lead to the ignition in the engine. 
  • If you notice that your car is jerking while accelerating, your engine is misfiring, or your engine is running roughly, you need to learn ‘how to clean car air filters.’
  • Check Engine Light

As we know, the check engine light can illuminate the dashboard for many reasons, some of which are severe and some of which are minor. If there is a lack of air supply by the engine and the air filter, this can lead to a buildup of carbon in the engine, which turns on the check engine light. If this happens, bring your car to a trusted mechanic so they can check the air filter and teach you ‘how to clean car air filters.’

  • Engine Sounds

Keeping an ear out for sounds under the hood can help you save money in the long run. In normal circumstances, when your car is just idling with the engine on, the smooth rotation ph de engine will result in just minimal shakes and vibrations. 

  • However, if your car is vibrating excessively or having a rough idle, this is usually due to a clogged and dirty air filter that is hurting the spark plug. 
  • Reduced Horsepower

If your car is having trouble powering up hills, passing people on the highway, or accelerating at a quick rate like usual, this could indicate that your engine is not receiving the right amount of air and a dirty air filter is a culprit. Since the air filter improves the airflow and the amount of air going to the engine to create a spark, learning ‘how to clean car air filter’ can improve acceleration and fix the issue. 

How to Clean Car AC Filter

Method #1: How to Clean Car Air Filter 

  1. The first step for the ‘how to clean car ac filter’ process is to begin by turning the system off before touching the filter. 
  • Clean the area around the events before opening it, using a screw or latch and swinging the vent open to access the inside area. Vacuum the entire air filter area and then remove the filter from your vehicle.
  • If the system is turned on by accident, the car ac filter can suck in debris during the process and lead to a more involved cleaning.
  1. Next, you need to remove the filter by opening the hood of your car and accessing the interio area. The second step of learning ‘how to clean car ac filter is to check your manual for the location of your air filter or asking your mechanic where it is located. 
  • The air filter housing should be located on top of the engine when finding out how to clean the car air filter quickly and easily.
  1. The following step is to vacuum a dry filter. Connect a hose attachment to the vacuum cleaner and vacuum on each side to ensure it is completely clean of debris and rust.
  • We recommend vacuuming the filter instead of washing it when looking up ‘how to clean car air filter.’ 
  1. Once this step is complete, wash a dry filter. Fill a bucket with soap and water, placing hte filter in the bucket and washing it completely. Take the filter out and shake off excess liquid, rinsing the filter gently under water.
  • Make sure when looking up ‘how to clean car air filter that you don't put the filter back in whie wet. If you put a wet filter back in the car, it can damage the car’s engine and lead to higher repair costs.
  1. After you have washed the fitler, cleanse an oiled filter. Apply a cleaning solution to the outside and inside of hte filter. Leave the filter in a sink or submerged in water for ten minutes, then rinsing it with low pressure. 
  • After this step, make sure you rinse the filter to ensure the cleanser does not dry and get stuck on the filter.
  • After the rinse, the filter should be dry in around 15 minutes. 
  1. Re-oil the filter if possible. Apply air filter oil evenly with a thin layer, allowing the filter to sit for around 20 minutes to absorb the oil. 
  • This step is important in learning the process of ‘how to clean car air filters’ for your vehicle.
  1. Next, clean out the air filter canister. Vacuum dust and dirt from the filter housing using a hose. 
  • Make sure the moisture is dried, since any wetness can damage the engine.
  1. Finally, replace the car ac filter. When looking up ‘how to clean car air filter’ you need to finalize this step to fix any of the cooling and heating system issues. 

When to Learn ‘How to Clean Car Air Filter’

Drivers need to determine the replacement period for when to change their car ac filter in their vehicle. 

  • Replace disposable air filters

A key step in replacing air filters is determining what type of filter is in your car – if it is disposable, you will have to purchase a new car ac filter when you begin to notice performance issues. A cleanable air filter is usually labeled ‘washable’ or ‘reusable’, while disposable ones are not labeled as such.

  • Make sure you do not wash disposable filters, as this can clog them, cause mold, and lead to engine concerns.
  • In addition, disposable filters can tear under the pressure of compressed air. If you frequently have a high pressure solution, it can cause irreversible damage to your disposable filter.
  • Clean or replace your car air filter regularly

When learning ‘how to clean car air filter,’ drivers need to be aware of the maintenance and recommended intervals for change; it is advised to change your car air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. If you frequently drive on dusty or bumpy roads, you need to change your car ac filter more frequently. 

  • Examine your car air filter under a bright light to check for any areas clogged with debris when learning ‘how to clean car air filter.’
  • Disposable filters need to be replaced when you notice signs of damage or during the recommended intervals, whereas permanent filters can be vacuumed to get out any clogged ears.
  • If you don’t learn ‘how to clean car air filter’ or change the filter as needed, you will notice a decrease in your fuel economy, ignition and starting issues, and damaged spark plugs.

Questions about ‘how to clean car air filter’

What to do if the filter is difficult to reach?

For most makes and models, the car air filter is easy reachable when learning ‘how to clean car air filter.’ However, if your car ac filter is not accessible, then you may need to bring your vehicle to a certified mechanic, dealership ,or auto body shop to advise you on the best process for learning ‘how to clean car air filter.’

How often should I replace my car air filter?

Most auto manufacturers recommend replacing your car ac filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. At the very least, your car air filter needs to be replaced at least once a year. However, make sure you check with a trusted mechanic or manual to see the specifics for your car's make, model, and year. 

Consequences of not learning ‘how to clean car air filter’

Changing the air filter increases the comfort and performance of your car and cooling system. Let’s talk about the potential consequences of not taking care of your air filter or learning ‘how to clean car air filter.’

  • Restrictive Airflow

Dirty air filters restrict airflow in your car and prevent proper circulation, causing it to push out more energy to keep the right airflow level. This means that your dirty air filter will have to work harder to produce even close to the same amount of air as normal. When your vehicle’s heating and air conditioning system has to work harder and is under more stress, you are using more energy, draining your battery and your car’s heating system.

  • When a dirty air filter restricts the airflow, other parts of your vehicle need to work even harder to maintain the same air quality. Over time, this excess strain and pressure placed on these parts can lead to mechanical failures – especially on certain days when it is hot outside or the other parts must continue working at a higher rate. 
  • Respiratory Issues

If you let your car consistently drive with a dirty air filter, you could be setting yourself up for more issues than just a costly repair or replacement. When your air filters are constantly dirty and recirculating contaminated air, other particles like dust, pet hair, and debris are being constantly circulated around the car. 

  • If you or your passengers have any respiratory issues that can be exacerbated by a dirty air filter, it is sure to get much worse if you don’t learn the process of ‘how to clean car air filter.’
  • Failure to Cool

Lastly, the final consequence of using a dirty air filter for a long period of time is the failure to cool off your car. This problem occurs from your air conditioning not working correctly – drivers need to learn ‘how to clean car air filter’ to prevent the inability to cool. Dirty air filters can prevent your central air from working at the optimal level, churning out clean, cold air to you and your passengers during those hot summer days.

  • When your air filter becomes clogged with contaminants and suffers from a build-up of debris, less cool air will circulate through the cabin. Dust and other debris can restrict the optimal flow of air. If the airflow is restricted over a long period and over certain air conditioning components, like the coils, the airflow will be further restricted.

The Bottom Line

Drivers need to learn the steps of ‘how to clean car air filter to ensure they prevent a clogged air filter from harming their car’s health and performance! 

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