"Any part of the car that takes in fluids or air from the environment should have a way of separating the good from the bad, of taking in only what benefits the mechanism and leaving the rest behind. This is why cars have air filters and fuel filters. True, they require regular looking after but this is one of the simplest and least expensive — and most important — maintenance procedures you can perform for your car. Changing your car's filters on a regular basis can have a significant impact on engine life and performance.
We'd like to walk you through a basic filter change. It doesn't take long, saves you money, and sends your car down the road refreshed and renewed. A clogged air or fuel filter can cause poor performance, poor fuel mileage and reduced engine life. This simple procedure guards against that.
How often should you do this? Check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended intervals. If the manual's not available, a good rule of thumb is: air filter replacement every 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first); fuel filter replacement every 2 years or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first).
Changing the Air Filter
If nothing else, learn how to change your own air filter. It's quick and easy and saves you money.
How so? Chances are, the last time you went to the Quick Lube-n-Tune place the technician probably hit you up with, "Hey Bud, you need a new air filter." After which you nodded and watched as he added it to the invoice. How much? $17.99? $23.99? Heck, we've even seen $27.99.
The chief purpose of Edmunds.com is to empower the consumer. Don't let them stick it to you. Learn to say no — there's no law against it. Just say "Thanks, I'll look into it," and go home after the oil change and perform this procedure yourself — if, in fact, it really needs to be done.
First, park your car in the shade and pop the hood. Prop it up so it doesn't bang you in the head, then let the engine cool for a few minutes.
While it's cooling, go get your tools. You'll need very few for this procedure — grab a butter knife, two medium-sized screwdrivers, one standard and one Phillips, and head back to the car.
The air filter is typically enclosed in a black plastic casing near the center-top of the engine (sometimes, however, it will be off to the side). It should be the largest non-metal assembly you see, about the size of a breadbox. Find it? Good. Now, open it.
How? Well, most of them are held together by a couple of large metal clips on the side. Slide the butter knife or flat-headed screwdriver between the casing and the clip and then pry the clip away. Continue around the case's perimeter, loosening all the retaining clips which should allow you to open the case up. Occasionally you'll find an air filter housing that's held together with several long screws, in which case you'll have to unscrew them to get at the filter." [Continue reading...]