I changed the engine air filter but one of the housing clips broke off as I was trying to seal it up afterwards. It was rusty and it appears that the plastic hinge broke off. I got the other one on. 2 questions: is it bad to leave it is is (i.e. just one clip sealing the housing) and, if not, is there an easy way to repair without replacing the entire air cleaner housing?
My car has 151000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.
The best solution be to get the other clip back on the air box, so that the box will fully seal. Unfortunately since the air box is made of molded plastic, and a piece of it has broken off, it cannot be repaired. The air box must be replaced in order to get the other clip back on there. On the other hand, if the top of your air box is fully seated against the bottom of your air box, you should be fine with the one clip holding it together. Let's say the air box looks fine, and you drive on it for a while. Then all of the sudden your Check Engine Light pops on. If this were to happen, depending on which code was saved, the air box could have a vacuum leak and therefore causing Check Engine Light. I would recommend having you vehicle look at by certified a mechanic in order to properly diagnose and fix your issue before you go through with a replacement.
For a vehicle like yours with high milage it is perfectly normal for things to start breaking down such as the air box holding clips. As far as your first question goes, as long as the air box is completely sealed and there are no air leaks past the mass airflow sensor. There should not be any difference in performance. There are multiple ways that you could hold it down if it does not completely shut due to the broken clip.
I've seen zip ties being used which can be bought at any hardware store. However, this might require modification of the air box because where the clip has broken out, the plastic is also broken. In this case, zip-ties cannot be fixed to the air cleaner box. You would need to drill a hole of some kind into the air cleaner box and then run the zip tie from the top part of the air cleaner to the bottom part. The only true fix will be to completely replace the air cleaner box. As I said before, as long as there are no air leaks in the intake's running tubes that are past the mass airflow sensor, the vehicle should not act any differently than it has before. I hope that this information is helpful that you can get your issue resolved. Thank you for using YourMechanic.
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