When should I change the air filter in my car? Your car needs clean air just like you do. Pollen, dust, and dirt will run your engine down. That’s why it is important to check your vehicle’s air filter. It is one of the simplest maintenance tasks to perform. Internal combustion engines need air to work. Gasoline and diesel won’t burn without oxygen to provide that explosive force that powers the engine. And for your engine to run at peak performance, that air needs to be as clean as possible. That’s where the air filter comes in. The air outside is full of dirt and dust. All of that stuff can foul up your engine if it gets sucked inside. The air filter is made of a porous, paper-like material that is folded like an accordion. The filter is what catches and prevents dirt and other gunk from getting into the engine while letting the clean air pass through. Knowing when to replace the air filter in your car is important if you want your vehicle to perform at its best. While there aren’t any hard, fast rules regarding when to replace your air filter, a good rule of thumb is every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or once every 12 months. You should be able to tell whether it needs replacing just by looking at it. To find your air filter, open the hood and locate the filter box. It’s the black plastic box that is usually situated on top of or to the side of the engine. Loosen the clamps or clips and undo all of the screws holding the air filter cover. Pull the cover out of the air conduit and lift so it comes off the lower housing. Take out the old air filter. Now look inside the folds of the air filter. If it is full of gunk and dirt, then it is time to replace the filter. Most filters are pretty cheap — around $10 to $13. To put in a new one, simply insert it back into the housing in the filter box. Make sure it is snug. Close the top of the box and snap the clips back into place and you’re done. Making sure your vehicle has a clean air filter will make your car run more efficiently. A dirty air filter doesn’t allow air to get through to the engine and less air coming in means that you use more gas. Regularly changing your air filter will save you money at the gas pump and prolong the life of your engine by keeping out dirt and particles that can cause wear and tear.