Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance December 11, 2019

How Often Should You Change the Engine Air Filter?

It’s a classic story of getting duped at the auto repair shop … the salesperson comes up to you, gets down on one knee, and presents a filthy-looking air filter for you to inspect: “It looks like you need to replace your engine air filter, ma’am.” But how do you know if you need a new engine air filter or if you’re just being tricked?

Changing the air filter

Why should I replace my engine air filter?

Replacing the air filter isn’t a service auto repair shops invented to get a few extra bucks during your visit. It’s actually a vital part of engine performance and maintenance.

Engines need a lot of clean air to operate. The engine air filter prevents debris, dirt, bugs and other contaminants from entering the engine and causing damage. When the filter is dirty and/or clogged, it results in decreased gas mileage, slow acceleration, decreased engine life, higher emissions and poor engine performance.

How often should you change the engine air filter?

Virginia Tire & Auto recommends replacing your engine air filter every 15,000–30,000 miles or at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended mileage. Check your owner’s manual to find out the recommended mileage interval for your vehicle.

If your commute consists of frequent stops and construction areas or you regularly travel on dirt/gravel roads, consider replacing your engine air filter more frequently.

Here are some signs that it’s time to replace your vehicle’s air filter:

  1. Jerky or Slower Than Usual Acceleration: If you notice that your vehicle doesn’t speed up as well as it used to, there’s a good chance that the air filter is not allowing enough air into your car’s engine. You also may notice jerky acceleration when you press the gas pedal.
  2. Decreased Fuel Economy: When the filter is clogged, the engine has to work harder to get the same amount of power, resulting in poor gas mileage.
  3. Unusual Sounds: A dirty or clogged air filter often leads to many strange noises when the car is idling. Unusual sounds could be a sign that your car’s engine is not receiving enough airflow.
  4. Dirty Air Filter: You can also visually inspect your engine’s air filter. It is usually easy to access, and you can refer to your owner’s manual if you have trouble finding it. If the air filter contains a lot of dirt, debris or grease, then it’s time to change your air filter.
    Not sure if it’s too dirty? Hold the filter up to the light. If you can’t see any light through the filter, it’s definitely time to get your air filter replaced.

How long does it take to replace my vehicle’s air filter?

Installing a filter is typically a quick 5- to 10-minute service, but it can depend on your vehicle model. The air filter is more difficult to access in some models, so, if that’s the case, it will take our technicians a little bit longer to replace.

Air Filter Replacement at Virginia Tire & Auto

At Virginia Tire & Auto, we’ll never recommend parts or service your car doesn’t need—including air filters. Our technicians inspect your engine air filter as part of our 25-point courtesy inspection, and we’ll let you know if we think it needs to be replaced. And we’ll always recommend following your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for air filter replacement and other services.

Drop by any of our 17 locations or schedule an appointment online to get your engine air filter switched out. We’ll have you back on the road in no time!


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