The air filter is a vital component of the car’s engine and fuel system. Without it, dust, debris, and other particles would make their way through the fuel system and eventually ruin the engine.
The air filter is typically located up at the front of the engine compartment, inside the cold air collector box, it shouldn’t be hard to find. Some cars, like those with carburetors, have a permanent filter which should be cleaned according to the owner’s manual.
Not all air filters are created equal. You want a durable filter that won’t need to be cleaned or changed too often, but on the other hand this is one of the more affordable parts to change out so there’s no need to go totally overboard unless you’re looking for a performance level filter.
How to make sure you’re getting a good quality air filter:
Decide between paper, foam, or cloth.
Paper - is affordable, and is the kind of air filter your car likely came with right off the assembly line. They are made of sturdy, industrial paper, folded in an accordion pattern in order to best trap dirt and debris. They are cheap but need to be replaced frequently.
Foam - specifically polyurethane foam filters soaked in oil are used in off-road vehicles because they’re very effective. They are reusable and sturdy but eventually break down and can clog up the engine.
Cloth – usually cotton, is also soaked in oil for use in air filters, and they increase the air intake in race car engines. They’re pricey though because they’re considered to be a performance upgrade.
- Paper - is affordable, and is the kind of air filter your car likely came with right off the assembly line. They are made of sturdy, industrial paper, folded in an accordion pattern in order to best trap dirt and debris. They are cheap but need to be replaced frequently.
Choose aftermarket or OEM. This is one part that doesn’t carry a huge financial risk when choosing one over the other. Aftermarket filters offer a wide variety of options, which means you can customize your performance preferences. And although aftermarket parts can bring a car’s value down, in the case of air filters it’s an easy thing to switch to OEM when you prepare to sell your vehicle.
Choose a brand. The better-known brands are a safer bet when it comes to filters. Do your research and pick one that has a good reputation.
Changing your car’s air filter is, in most cases, a simple, affordable, straight-forward process that can be accomplished by even the most inexperienced car owner.
YourMechanic supplies top-quality air filters to our certified mobile technicians. We can also install a air filter that you've purchased. Click here to get a quote and more information on air filter replacement..