All About Air Filter

Just like humans, oxygen is crucial for our vehicles too. While we use it to breathe and make it run our body, cars use it for the combustion process. But like the lungs, cars also need filters to provide the engine with clean air for combustion. For this, vehicles are installed with an air filter which prevents any dust, insects, unwanted particles, sand, or debris from reaching the combustion chambers and ensures a wonderful mixture of air and fuel to support performance. Read along to know more about the functioning of the car air filters.

What Is A Car Air Filter?

The task of eliminating the particulate matter and various other impurities is undertaken by the air filter. In automotive applications, two types of air filters can be used namely the cabin air filters and the regular engine air filters. The engine air filters are a crucial component in the intake systems where they hold the responsibility for providing filtered, particulate-free air to the engine. Similarly, the impurities (mostly pollen and other allergens) are removed from the air entering the passenger compartment by the cabin air filters.

Internal combustion engines depend on clean air for the proper combustion of the air-fuel mixture and keep the impurities from entering the engine, thereby, protecting it from wear and tear. We don’t recommend you to use the engine without an air filter. Nevertheless, artificial constriction is created on airflow through the intake system using a clogged air filter that often leads to deficient power.

How Does My Car Air Filter Work?

Do you know how air filters function? The small particles present in the environment are trapped by these air filters that enable the passage of air undisturbed. The air filters sit ahead of the throttle body and mass airflow sensor in an automotive intake system.

In old models, the air filters were typically on the top of the carburetor while the latest models have these air filters installed in the “air filter boxes” present at the head end of the intake system. It is very easy to locate the air inlet on old vehicles as it is directly on the air filter box or the air inlet is connected to the box by a tube opening at the front of the engine compartment.

The air entering the intake system passes through the air filter. While passing through the filtration media, all particulate matter larger than the pores gets trapped in the filter, while the air passes easily. Although this causes a slight restriction on the passage of air, it is almost negligible when the filter is cleaned.

In the absence of an air filter, the particulate matter will probably enter the throttle body and pass into the combustion chambers. According to the quantity of particulate matter in the air, your engine or other components can get damaged. So, it is true for a reason that the air filter sacrifices itself to safeguard the engine. Also, as time passes, the filter often clogs, so it should be cleaned or replaced as per the requirements (depending on the type of the filter).

How To Choose The Right Car Air Filter?

What Are The Common Car Air Filter Problems?

Are you aware of the problems that you might face with the air filter? It is a device that filters particles from the air passing through it, mostly the one protecting the air inlet of an internal -combustion engine. The common car air filter problems are as follows:

  1. Presence Of Black Smoke In Exhaust - Are you observing black smoke emitting from the exhaust pipe? Well, this can be a symptom of the jammed air filter. Also, if the oxygen is too less, the mixture might end up being too rich. Consequently, leading to more fuel consumption in the combustion leading to black soot-like residue exiting the exhaust.
  2. Rough Engine Noises - Has your engine been running roughly? Or it sounds like something is missing? A bad or a dirty air filter can cause dirt to enter the cylinder and cause the spark plugs to misfire. This can also lead to the clogging of spark plug electrodes and cause the engine to perform erratically. 
  3. Engine Backfires - When you encounter sounds of explosion or something similar to a gunshot coming from the exhaust pipe, it could probably have resulted due to the rich fuel mixture and some unused fuel emitting from the engine into the exhaust system and then igniting from the heat. You might even notice a flame at the end of the exhaust pipe. This could again be caused by an air filter that requires replacement.
  4. Low Gas Mileage - Decreased oxygen in the mixture can lead to the engine using more fuel than required to run the engine. This can further lead to the mileage per gallon ratio to reduce significantly.
  5. Scent of Gasoline In The Exhaust - If you smell gasoline when you start your vehicle it is due to a lack of air getting into the carburetor or fuel injection system. When the quantity of oxygen is less there will be no fuel required for the combustion being blown out in the exhaust.

Which Tools Do I Need To Repair My Car Air Filter?

If you want to repair your Air Filter all by yourself, then let’s face it that you will need some auto body tools. You can always start by building your own tool chest. Searching for some tools needed to repair your Air Filter? Don’t Worry! We are here to help you out. Here are some common tools that you will probably end up needing while repairing your Air Filter:

  • 6-inch extension
  • Air filter (new)
  • Gloves
  • Ratchet
  • Safety glasses
  • Screwdriver
  • Sockets - 8mm and 10mm (specific to Toyota, Honda, Volvo, Chevy, etc)
  • T25 Torx socket (specific to most Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Audi vehicles)

Which Top Brands Air Filter Parts Should I Choose?

For vehicle owners, the brands really matter a lot. You might pay for a specific car part brand, over time, as it has created a perception of quality, stability, and trust. Some leading car parts brands are more than just products or services as they give rise to memories and emotions related to quality. So have a look at some top brands for Air Filter.

  •  Beck/Arnley Air Filter
  • K & N Engineering Air Filter
  • Purezone Oil & Air Filters Air Filter
  • Wix Air Filter
  • Mann-Filter Air Filter
  • Fram Air Filter

To know more about top brand Car Air Filters, visit our “Which Top Brand Air Filter Should I Choose?” section.

Which Parts Are Related To My Car Air Filter?

Do you want to know what the related parts of the car Air Filter are? Say no more! We are here to help you out. Have a look at Air Filter related parts below: -

  • Air cleaner
  • Air cleaner clip
  • Air filter wrap
  • Air cleaner assembly
  • Air cleaner cover
  • Air filter housing

If you are still confused about which type of air filter you should buy, then you can visit our Ultimate Air Filter Buying Guide. You should always look for the warning signs of a bad air filter and replace them at the earliest you can. With us you can find air filters at the most economical costs.

What Are The Steps Of Changing My Car Air Filter?

Your car requires air just as much as it does fuel; air filters keep dust and insects out of the engine. To maintain air flowing freely and your automobile running at its optimum, replace or clean your air filter at the recommended interval. You can perform this routine maintenance yourself because air filters are affordable and easy to replace.

Step 1

If you need help identifying the correct filter for your vehicle's airbox, go to an auto parts store or go to the company's website. To get the greatest engine life and fuel efficiency out of your vehicle, try to get the OEM filter that came with it.

Step 2

Make sure the vehicle is secure. Apply the parking brake and park the automobile on flat ground. Turn off the ignition and shift into first gear (manual gearbox) or Park (automatic transmission).

Step 3

With the lever on the inside of the car, open the bonnet. To complete the release, move the external bonnet catch. Lift the bonnet and use the prop rod to secure it (if necessary).

Step 4

Find the air box. Typically, the air box housing is located near the engine, following a duct that runs from the front of the vehicle.

Step 5

Remove the hose clamp that seals the air conduct and loosen it. Remove all of the screws that keep the air filter cover in place. Some air filters feature wing nuts, while others are simply glued on with a quick-release system. So you can find screws and other parts later, keep them together and in a safe place. Lift the cover off the lower half of the housing by pulling it out of the air conduit. If you don't know how to lift the cover, seek assistance from a mechanic.

Step 6

A round or rectangular filter consisting of cotton, paper, or gauze may now be seen. The interior of the unit is sealed by a rubber rim on the filters. Simply remove the filter from the housing by lifting it out.

Step 7

Connect the air hose to the compressor and blast out the dust with compressed air, or vacuum out any dirt with a vacuum cleaner.

Step 8

Remove the old filter and replace it with a fresh one. Simply place it into the housing, rubber rim facing up. Ensure that the rubber rim seals the edges.

Step 9

Replace the cover in the air conduit with care, then press the entire piece against the lower part of the air filter unit.

Step 10

Check the filter regularly to keep the dust out of your car's breathing system.

Step 11

Every 50,000 km (30,000 miles), or roughly once a year, replace the filter. It will need to be replaced more frequently if you drive in a dusty environment. Recommendations for your car should be found in your owner's manual or in a periodic maintenance guide.


Articles and Guides that are written with the help of mechanics to ensure you have all the knowledge you need to make the correct purchase here at PartsAvatar.

Read all Guides & Articles


Check your owner's manual; it should tell you when your air filter should be replaced. This is every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on your vehicle. If you have driven more than that since the last time your air filter was replaced, it's probably time to get it changed.

An air filter might not seem an essential component to regularly check and change, but they are important in maintaining the performance of your car. Yes, changing a car air filter will surely make a difference as it will lead to: The rise in fuel efficiency, decreased emissions and prolongs engine life.

When the car air filter will get too dirty, then it will get clogged and then the car engine won’t be able to suck up enough air to the combustion cham

No, replacing just car air filters will not make a car sound louder.

Your air filter contributes to your fuel efficiency, but a dirty filter can cause a decrease in oxygen flow.

persona image
John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.