Air filters have a very high markup. Every driver should know how to find, and inspect their car's air filter. Maintaining your air filter is an essential part of your vehicle's maintenance. It's an easy part to purchase and change yourself, and you'll save money every time.
How to find your air filter
A car's air filter is usually situated at the base of the windshield. You may need to rummage around under the hood to find it, if you know what you're looking for. Occasionally, the air filter access can found behind the glovebox. When in doubt, consult your car's owner's manual.
Why is air filter maintenance essential?
When air filters are changed or replaced when required, you'll not only improve the air quality inside your vehicle, you'll improve the longevity of your engine as the air filter prevents contaminants and debris from getting into your engine.
What affects the service life of your air filter?
There are two vital aspects on which the service life of an air filter depends. They are:
The quality of filter used; and, Operating conditions
As an example, an air filter in a vehicle that frequently drives on gravel roads will have a shorter lifespan than that of the filter in a vehicle driven around city suburbs.
That being said, even if you never drive on gravel roads, other airborne contaminants such as diesel exhaust and urban air pollution will wear on your air filter.
When should you change your air filter?
Automakers' recommendations range anywhere from 12,000 to 30,000 miles. Folklore says you should change your air filter every time you go for an oil change. Truthfully, it's subjective on wear and tear, which can be easily determined by a visual inspection. A dirty air filter is obviously blackened and clogged with dust and debris.
Refer to your owner's manual, or consult a trusted mechanic for their recommendations. If you're comfortable inspecting, purchasing and replacing your own air filter, you'll be sure to save on parts and labor.