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How Often Should You Change the Engine Air Filter in Your Car?


In order to function properly, your car’s engine needs clean air to flow in and out unobstructed. That’s where the engine air filter comes in. It filters out dirt, dust and pollutants to prevent them from getting inside the engine and causing performance issues. Like any filter, the engine air filter will get clogged over time and need to be replaced. 


Here’s how to know when it’s time to replace your engine air filter.

Follow the Manufacturer Recommendations

The base guideline for when to change the engine air filter is the timeframe recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Depending on the age, make and model of the vehicle, the exact recommendation may vary slightly. Generally, it will be around 12,000 to 15,000 miles driven or around once a year, whichever comes first.

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How Firestone Direct Can Help

Firestone Direct offers a range of fleet services, including tire inspections, repairs, and installations, brake services, battery replacements, fluid, and filter changes and more. In addition to service, we can also help with preventative maintenance to reduce the chance of unexpected breakdowns across your entire fleet.

Next, we can help you keep track of your maintenance history, and breakdown causes to help inform an optimized service schedule that makes sense for your fleet and business. 

Occasional vehicle trouble is inevitable, but there are ways to prevent the most common causes of unexpected breakdowns. Partner with Firestone Direct to get direct-to-your-business service you can trust and set up a plan for preventative maintenance for your fleet.


Consider Your Driving Habits


Like the rest of your car, the engine air filter’s longevity also depends on how often you drive and the road conditions. If you have a long daily commute, enjoy a lot of road trips, or your vehicle is a daily driver, the filter may need to be replaced more often. Doing a visual inspection can help give you an idea of the condition of the engine air filter and if it needs to be replaced earlier than recommended.

The engine air filter also has to block more dirt and debris if you often drive on dirt or gravel roads or you use your vehicle for off-roading. After you’ve had the vehicle a couple years, if your driving habits and conditions remain the same, you should start to get the hang of the typical replacement timeline for your car.


Think About Where You're Driving


The engine air filter’s job is to filter out pollutants before they make it inside your engine, so naturally, the air quality where you live, work and play will have an impact on the longevity of the filter. An urban area generally has more pollution than a small town or farm country. At the same time, certain times of the year come with increased levels of allergens like spring pollen and even insects that can clog up the filter more quickly. 


5 Signs it's Time to Replace Your Engine Air Filter


It’s impossible to know exactly how long your engine air filter will last, so it’s important to be aware of the signs that it’s time for a replacement. Ideally, you’ll replace the filter before these things start to happen, but if not, here’s what to watch out for:

  1. Decreasing fuel economy: With reduced airflow, the engine will have to work harder and use more fuel to reach the same level of performance, so you might notice you’re filling up more frequently.
  2. Engine misfires: If you have to turn the key a few times to get the engine going or it seems “sluggish”, a dirty filter could be preventing enough air from reaching the spark plugs and igniting the fuel.  
  3. The car is struggling to accelerate: A clogged air filter means the engine can’t reach its full potential. If you feel a jerky or hiccup sensation when accelerating, it could be time for a new air filter.
  4. The smell of gasoline: If there isn’t enough oxygen available when starting the engine, the car may send unburnt fuel through the exhaust system. This is a tell-tale sign you need a new engine air filter.  
  5. The filter is gray and dirty: New filters are white and clean, so a dirty filter will be obvious. If it’s grey or even black with visual debris stuck to it, it’s time for a replacement.


How to Replace Your Engine Air Filter


The engine air filter is usually located under the hood in a black plastic box near the engine. If it’s time for a replacement, a Firestone Direct mechanic can come directly to you with a brand-new filter. In just a few minutes, they’ll remove and inspect the old filter before installing the new one. 

While it’s a simple fix that some people choose to DIY, having a mechanic replace the filter means you’ll be sure that it’s done right. Not to mention an expert set of eyes looking under the hood to catch any issues you might not notice yourself. Add engine filter replacement to another service appointment, or schedule it on its own.

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Firestone Direct mobile mechanics have everything they need to complete your on-site service wherever you are. Schedule your appointment today!