How Often To Change Air Filter In Car

How Often To Change Air Filter In Car

The engine’s air filter is a part that requires replacing now and then. The air filter is included in the regular maintenance of the car. Modern cars with a bad air filter will show an alert on the computer. How often to change the air filter in a car?

The air filter in a car should be replaced once every year. The actual mileage for changing air filters depends on the car’s model. Usually, the mileage varies from 12 000 miles to 30 000 miles to 40 000 miles. The best thing to do is to change the air filter once a year. 

Cars have components that require regular changing. Basically, parts with an expiration date. Maintenance of this part is crucial for a healthy car. Neglecting to replace the filters and oil in a car exposes the engine to damage.

To keep your engine in mint condition regularly change the air filter. Here’s everything you need to know about replacing the air filter in a car.

Replacing The Engine’s Air Filter

Replacing The Engine's Air Filter

Most car owners have trouble with deciding when to change the air filter. Now, changing the air filter too early is not dangerous at all, you are just wasting a good air filter.

Changing the air filter too late on the other hand is dangerous. Driving with a bad air filter can cause damage to the engine.

So, when is the right time to change the air filter in a car?

Air filters are changed after a certain amount of time or after an amount of mileage driven. The mileage depends on the car’s model. So, the best way to find out when to change the air filter is to check your car’s manual.

The car’s manual should have instructions about changing the engine’s air filter.

If you can’t find the manual for your car, consult with an expert who repairs specifically cars the same as your model.

Keep in mind, the air filter in a car is changed every 12 000 to 30 000 miles.

Or, you can just change the air filter once every year. It’s the safest option if you are not driving your car in tough road conditions almost every day.

[Related Article: How Long Can A Car Go Without An Oil Change]

Signs Of A Dirty Air Filter

Signs Of A Dirty Air Filter

Instead of following a schedule for replacing the engine’s air filter, you can change it once you see signs that it needs changing.

This is not the recommended way because you will be driving the car while the engine has bad airflow. [Source]

Here are signs that your car’s air filter needs to be replaced with a new one. If your car is experiencing any of these problems, you need a new air filter.

Bad Fuel Efficiency

Bad Fuel Efficiency

One subtle sign of a used-up air filter is bad fuel performance. In other words, your car will not be able to achieve the same mileage with the same fuel as it used to do.

Car engines perform best when there is good airflow. Without proper airflow, the engine will start to overwork. Because it’s working more than usual, it will waste more fuel than usual.

This is a very subtle sign that you may not notice at first. However, if you keep on driving with a dirty air filter, the change in fuel efficiency will be significant. So, you will eventually notice it.

If you notice that your car can’t get the same mileage as it used to do. And, there’s no other reason for it. It may be the time for an air filter replacement.

Dashboard Signals

Now, if you have a modern car, chances are, you don’t have to worry about any other signs of a dirty air filter. Modern cars have a sensor that checks up on the air filter.

When the air filter gets too dirty, the sensors will set off. So, you will see a sign on your dashboard telling you that you need to change the air filter.

This makes replacing the air filter really easy. All you need to do is keep an eye on your dashboard for the sign. If there is a sign about the air filter, just replace it with a new one.

Black Smoke From Exhaust

Black Smoke From Exhaust

Another sign that your car needs a new air filter is black smoke coming out from the exhaust.

As already mentioned, the engine uses more fuel when the air filter is dirty. Due to increased usage of fuel, the exhaust will have black smoke.

The excess fuel will turn into black residue which results in black smoke coming out of the exhaust.

Now, an occasional black smoke from the exhaust is nothing to worry about. However, if black smoke is constantly coming out, you should check your air filter.

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Starting Problems

Lastly, a car with a bad air filter may be experiencing problems with starting the engine. Again, the problem comes down to bad airflow in the engine.

A car with a dirty air filter will start no matter what. If the cranking amps are there, the car will start. The car will struggle though. So, you need to keep an eye on how your car is starting.

If you notice some stalling while the engine is being cranked, check the air filter. The bad airflow may have caused damage to the spark plugs.

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Should I Drive With A Dirty Air Filter

Should I Drive With A Dirty Air Filter

Despite all of this, some people will still be tempted to drive their cars. Even though there are signs of a dirty air filter, they may think waiting for regular maintenance is a good idea.

You should replace a dirty engine air filter as soon as possible. Driving with a bad air filter will eventually cause damage to the combustion system. A dirty air filter will clog up the engine and the fuel lines. [Source]


Some of you only want to know when to change the air filter. So, to sum things up, check the car’s manual to find out how often to change the air filter.

A good tip is to change the air filter every time you are changing the oil. So, change the air filter once every year or once every 10 000 miles.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

What Happens If I Don’t Change My Car Air Filter

Driving with a dirty air filter results in bad fuel efficiency and poor engine performance. The car’s engine won’t be able to function properly because of the bad airflow.

Can You Rinse A Car Air Filter

No, you shouldn’t wash a car air filter. The car air filter is a part that should be replaced regularly. You can’t clean the dirt properly from the air filter. Your car requires a brand new air filter.

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