Engine filter autozone

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How Much Does It Cost To Replace an Engine Air Filter?

The Average Engine Air Filter Replacement Cost Is $20 to $85, Depending on if You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.

  • Cost at the Mechanic: $40 to $85
    • Parts: $20 to $40
    • Labor: $20 to $35
  • DIY Difficulty Level: Beginner

This is one of the easiest maintenance jobs you can do yourself. Engine air filters are easily accessible under the hood and usually require no tools at all to replace. This is an excellent job for a first time DIYer.

  • Cost to DIY: $20 to $40
  • Urgency: Perform this service within a month to avoid vehicle damage. 

*These prices are based on national averages. Related repairs or maintenance may also be needed. For a custom maintenance schedule based on your make, model, and mileage, download the free FIXD app.

What Is an Engine Air Filter?

Ford E250 van air intake system

Your engine breathes air the same way you do. While you breathe air through your nose, your car breathes in through the air intake system. This is a series of plastic tubes that bring air from outside your car into the engine. A simple filter, usually made of paper, sits near the beginning of your engine’s air intake system. It makes sure that only clean air goes into your engine, with no dust or debris that might cause damage to sensors or the engine itself. It works rather like the face masks we all got used to wearing in 2020.

A mechanic will take very little time to replace this filter, charging maybe half an hour of labor. Even a quick lube shop can do it quickly while you get your oil changed and will often recommend it, whether you need it or not.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Car’s Engine Air Filter?

Clean and dirty engine air filters

What happens if you breathe dirty air? You cough, sputter, and get dirt into your lungs. That’s also what happens to your engine if you don’t change the engine air filter. The engine may run rough. You may lose power and/or fuel economy. The check engine light may turn on, particularly if your engine misfires, or indicates a lean condition, which is a sign that your mass air flow sensor is dirty or has failed completely.

A dirty air filter can cause more serious problems down the road, but replacing it is so cheap (around $20-$40 for parts) and easy to do, you might as well do it yourself.

How Often to Replace the Engine Air Filter

Generally speaking, you should replace your engine air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. This may vary, however. Check your vehicle maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual, and go by what the manufacturer recommends. Also, if you find yourself often driving in dirty or dusty conditions, check your air filter more often than recommended, and replace it as needed.

Common Symptoms You Need to Replace Your Engine Air Filter

  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Loss of power
  • Rough running
  • Check engine light

Related Maintenance Services

The following services are commonly performed with replacing your engine air filter:

Claim Your Custom Maintenance Schedule

Get the FIXD Sensor and free app today for a custom maintenance schedule based on your make, model, and mileage. Never miss important maintenance again with automated maintenance alerts! Learn more at fixd.com.


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An air cabin filter is an important component in any vehicle's heating and cooling system. It helps protect the passengers from contaminants in the air they breathe. Learn more about this part of your vehicle and how to care for it properly.

Cabin Air Filter

The cabin air filter in a vehicle helps remove harmful pollutants, including pollen and dust, from the air you breathe within the car. This filter is often located behind the glovebox and cleans the air as it moves through the vehicle's HVAC system. If you notice that your car has an unpleasant odor or the airflow has decreased, consider replacing the cabin filter to give the system, and yourself, a breath of fresh air.

This filter is a small pleated unit, often made of an engineered material or paper-based, multifiber cotton. Before air can move into the interior of the car, it goes through this filter, trapping any contaminants within the air to prevent them from infiltrating the air you breathe.

Most late-model vehicles contain cabin air filters to catch airborne material that can make it less pleasant to ride in a car. Cars.com reports that if you suffer from allergies, asthma, or other health conditions that impact your respiratory health, the cleanliness of the air you breathe is especially important. According to AutoZone, whether you're behind the wheel or riding as a passenger in a vehicle, you deserve healthy, clean air to breathe. The best way to make sure the air is clean is to change the cabin air filter as frequently as the auto manufacturer recommends.

Within the owner's manual for your car, you might find mileage stamps for recommended cabin air filter changes, although they vary depending on the type of vehicle and manufacturer. Champion Auto Parts reports that some recommend changing every 15,000 miles, while others recommend a change at least every 25,0000-30,0000 miles. Each manufacturer has its own recommendation, so reviewing the manual for your specific make and model will provide you with insights into what it needs.

The area where you drive can also play a role in how often you change the filter. Those who drive in urban, congested areas or places with poor air quality might need to replace their filters more frequently. If you live in a place with a desert climate, your filter might get clogged with dust faster, requiring frequent changes.

If you don't have your owner's manual or you want to know the signs that your filter needs changing, watch for:

  • Reduced or weak airflow, even when the heat or air conditioner is set to high
  • A whistling sound coming from the cabin air intake ducts
  • Musty, unpleasant odors coming through the air in your vehicle
  • Excessive noise when the heating or cooling system is running

If you are experiencing any of these signs in your car, consider replacing the filter to see if that resolves the problem.

Replacing Your Cabin Air Filter

In most cars, the cabin air filter sits behind the glovebox. You might able to access it yourself by removing the glovebox from the fasteners that hold it in place. If this is the case, your owner's manual should provide guidance on how to remove the glovebox. However, if your cabin air filter is beneath the dashboard or under the hood, it might not be as accessible.

If you do plan to replace it yourself, consider buying a replacement filter at an auto parts store or website to save money. Car dealerships can charge up to $50 or more for one unit. The average cost for a cabin air filter is between $15 and $25. CARFAX and Angie's List report that the labor cost to have the filter swapped out is $36-$46, although you could end up paying more if it's harder to reach. Higher-end cars have more expensive parts, and they might only be available through the dealerships.

If you're having your vehicle serviced at a repair shop or dealership, the technician might recommend a cabin air filter replacement. Before you agree, ask to see your current filter. You could be surprised to see a filter covered in soot, dirt, leaves, twigs, and other grime, which confirms the replacement service is important. However, if your cabin air filter is clean and free of debris, you can probably wait.

Failing to replace a dirty, clogged filter will impact the efficiency of the heating and cooling system in your car. Poor efficiency can lead to other problems, including a loss of air volume, bad odors in the cabin, or premature failure of HVAC components. Simply replacing a dirty filter can make a big difference in the car's air quality.

Other Steps To Protect Your Vehicle

You can take additional steps to maintain air quality and prevent other allergens from settling in your car:

  • Vacuum upholstery and carpeted floor and mats regularly.
  • Wipe down surfaces, including door panels, steering wheel, console, and dashboard.
  • Check the weather-stripping of the doors and windows for a proper seal.
  • Clean up spills right away to prevent mold growth.

Problems Associated With a Dirty Filter

A clogged, dirty air filter can cause other issues for both you and your car. One is a decline in your health, as pollutants can move through the air and cause allergic reactions or breathing problems. A dirty filter can't do its job properly and filter out the contaminants, so it's important to replace the filter in your car frequently. Consider replacing it every year in February before the spring allergy season begins.

Another problem that comes with a clogged filter is poor HVAC efficiency. As a result, your car's heating and cooling system has to work harder, potentially causing the blower motor to burn out. Poor efficiency also leads to a loss of airflow, which can make your car feel less comfortable as the seasons change.

Weakened airflow also impacts the system's ability to clear fog or condensation from the car's windows. Dirty air can cause condensation to build up on the windshield, making it hard to see the road ahead of you. By replacing the filter, you should notice that the windows are clearer and visibility is better.

Information and research in this article verified by ASE-certified Master Technician Keith Canete of YourMechanic.com. For any feedback or correction requests please contact us at [email protected]









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