Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: I unknowingly drove my car for the last 5,000 miles without an air filter, what potential damage has been done?

asked by on

I get my oil changed at a quick service chain regularly. My Honda has an oil life sensor that goes off when 15% of the life is remaining and that's when I get the oil changed. 5000 miles ago I had my oil changed and I paid for an air filter replacement. Today I went to get my oil changed and even though they could see I had my air filter changed on my last visit at a separate location, they opened the housing as protocol and found no air filter. This was all noted on my service record and printed out for me. I am afraid that some serious yet not visible damage has been done to my engine. They are offering to do some sort of cleaning to my intake, will that be enough? Is there some sort of inspection that can be done to assess any damage? Thank you for your time.

My car has 55000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

I do believe that no serious damage would have occurred. The air filter is made to prevent any leaves or other debris from entering the engine. However, due to the design of many newer intake systems, the debris would likely not make it that far anyway. This is due to screens that are built into some throttle bodies. I would recommend going with the intake/fuel system cleaning as well as another oil change. Once all of these maintenance items are completed, the vehicle should be good to go with no damage to worry about. If you want to have this looked at, a certified professional from YourMechanic can come to your car’s location to conduct a comprehensive inspection so that any issues can be addressed as needed.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  • Home
  • Questions
  • I unknowingly drove my car for the last 5,000 miles without an air filter, what potential damage has been done?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: SUV getting only 15 mpg

It is possible that your tire pressures may be low and went unnoticed by the technician who last serviced your vehicle. I would recommend having your tire pressures checked because, if they are low, it could potentially cause both of...

Q: How do I check the coolant level?

It’s a good idea to occasionally check the coolant level. To do so, pop the hood, and locate the coolant reservoir. This reservoir should have two lines labeled Cold Fill Range. The coolant level should rest between those two lines....

Q: How do I check the health of my seat belts?

It’s important to periodically inspect your seat belts, to make sure that they are in good health. A seat belt that is dying should be replaced immediately. To inspect the seat belts, extend them from the retractors and use your...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.