For most car owners, the only DIY maintenance they ever perform on their vehicles is gently guiding it between those two tracks at the car wash every so often. The good news is that for those who feel a little more adventurous, there are some simple things that they can do to tackle issues under the hood. 

The Importance of Cleaning the Car Air Filter

One of those maintenance tasks that can be placed on a DIY list is the cleaning of the car air filter. Although the car air filter may seem unimportant, the component is vital to ensure that debris, dirt and other types of contaminants never make their way into the car’s engine. Debris and other types of contaminants can potentially cause more expensive problems. 

When this filter becomes clogged, the motor is no longer as efficient because it has to work even harder. This can lead to increased wear and tear, poor gas mileage and loss of acceleration and even power. In addition to having a car that is underperforming, these secondary issues can end up costing the owner hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars in engine repair bills. 

With all of that said, it is easy to understand why having a clean car air filter is so important and why it can be easily achieved with a few simple steps.

cleaning your car air filter tips

Changing The Car Air Filter

Some drivers prefer to simply purchase a new car air filter once the old one has become clogged with dirt and debris. The reason why more car owners choose to replace the filter is because it is one of the easiest maintenance tasks that can be completed without visiting an autoshop. Changing the filter does not take hours to complete and there are usually no special tools that are required. 

The only steps required are to purchase the air filter, find the air filter box that is under the hood and open the box to remove the old filter. 

Then, place the new air filter in its place. 

What Are The Steps To Cleaning A Car Air Filter?

Cars are either equipped with an oil-coated filter or a dry filter. Make sure you know which type is in the car because the approach to cleaning them is different for each. The following steps are for cleaning a dry filter. 

First, find the filter and remove its cover. 

Air filters generally have a rectangle shape and they are located near the top area of the motor. They are separated from the engine by plastic housing. If the car is an older model, it may have a round shape and rests on the carburetor. 

After the filter has been removed, shake the filter in the opposite direction of the engine. This will prevent loose debris, dirt, leaves and insects from flying into the engine. 

tips for changing and cleaning car air filters

Cleaning the Filter

There are two options for cleaning a dry filter. One is washing the filter and the other is vacuuming the filter. Even though vacuuming is the fastest way to clean the filter, washing it will ensure all of the dirt and debris is removed. 

To vacuum the filter, use a hose attachment and carefully clean both sides of the filter. For washing the filter, move it around in a container or bucket of water with a cleaning solution. Make sure the filter is rinsed clean. Always make sure the filter is dry before placing it back in the car. 

Also, clean the filter’s plastic housing with a damp cloth. It should also be completely dry before it is placed back into the car.

Cleaning an oil-coated car air filter

These types of filters are not as common. However, many of the same steps listed above apply to this cleaning process as well. 

The only difference is that an oil-filter cleaning spray should be used instead of using a vacuum or a regular cleaning solution. 

Allow the cleaning spray to soak the filter for at least 10 minutes. Then, rinse off the solution and allow the filter to dry. The car air filter may need to be sprayed with a specialty oil. After it has absorbed the oil, It can be placed back under the hood.

Commonly Asked Questions about Cleaning the Car Air Filter

What To Do If The Filter Is Difficult To Reach?

For most makes and models, the car air filter is accessible. However, if this is not the case, it is best to allow a certified mechanic to look at the filter and advise on whether it should be cleaned or replaced.

How Often Should Air Filters Be Cleaned/Replaced?

Most auto manufacturers recommend that the air filter is changed between every 12,000 miles to 15,000 miles. At the very least, the filter should be replaced once a year. However, it is important to check the driver’s manual for specifics regarding the car. 

The frequency of changing and cleaning air filters is also dependent on other factors such as the amount of dirt that is moving through the filter as well as driving conditions. 

Changing the car air filter may need to be done if the owner begins to notice changes in the car’s performance such as:

– Losing acceleration

– Idling is rough

– Huge decrease in gas mileage

– Problems with the ignition

– The check engine light starts coming on

– The engine sounds different

where is my car air filter and how do I change it

What Time Of The Year Should The Air Filter Be Changed/Cleaned?

As the days get warmer and longer, Spring is one of the best times of the year to give a car some TLC by changing or cleaning the air filters. All of the filters should be replaced, especially the one for the engine. 

So, why should air filters be cleaned or changed in the Spring? During the Spring season, the air filters in a car work plenty of overtime making sure that the car is running efficiently. Trying to drive a car with dirty air filters once pollen starts falling can leave a driver with more than a pollen dusted car. It can also lead to huge car repair bills.

Final Notes

When a car has a clean air filter, it is able to do what it was designed to do. Your vehicle will be able to take you where you want to go, when you want to go, with no major issues. Splash and Go Express Car Wash is here to keep your car shiny clean with exceptional customer service. Call us for questions concerning your vehicle, and stop by today to give your car the attention it deserves!