If you unscrew the wing nut on the lid of your air cleaner and undo any other devices that hold it down, you’ll find the air filter inside. Figure 1 shows a round air cleaner and filter; some vehicles have square ones instead. Most vehicles have pleated-paper filters that can be replaced for a few dollars. Replacing these filters is not difficult: You simply buy a new one to your vehicle’s make, model, and year, lift out the old one, and drop in the new one. According to the instructions in your owner’s manual, a number of older vehicles have permanent air filters, which you should clean.
Figure 1: The air filter is in the air cleaner.
To find out whether your air filter needs to be replaced, just lift it out (it isn’t fastened down) and hold it up to the sun or to a solid light. Can you see the light streaming through it? If not, try dropping it lightly, bottom side down, on a hard surface. Doing so should jar some dirt loose. (Don’t blow through the filter – you may foul it up that way.) If the filter continues to be too dirty to see through after you’ve dropped it a few times, you require a new one.
Because the air filter extracts dust and dirt particles from the air, you should change it one or more times a year or every 20,000 miles, whichever comes first – unless yours gets very dirty before then. If you do most of your driving in a dusty or sandy area, you may need to replace your air filter every 5,000 miles, or less. When a road trip takes you to such an area, it’s smart to check the air filter when you return.
Buying an air filter
When buying an air filter, maintain the following points in mind:
Search for well-known, quality-brand filters; it is possible to get them quite cheaply at discount stores. They aren’t always of good quality, and if your air filter lets a great deal of junk end up in your carburetor, you may find which a cheap filter is very costly in the long run, though unknown brands sell for very little.
Go to your local auto supply store or the parts department at your dealership if you need help determining which air filter is the one you need. Provide them with your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
Make sure that the filter you get matches your old filter in shape and size. If this doesn’t, you’ve been sold the wrong filter for your car. To save yourself a trip back to the car supply store, check the filter you purchase against your current filter while you’re still in the parking lot.
Removing your air cleaner
To improve the air filter, you need merely to detach and lift the lid in your air cleaner. But you will need to remove the air cleaner to access and view a carburetor or other stuff within the cleaner. To achieve this, just unscrew the wing nut as well as other hold-down devices as though you had been going to replace the air filter, and then lift the entire air cleaner up and off. Try to find additional clamps or screws that may be holding it set up if it refuses to budge. If you have to disconnect any hoses in order to free the air cleaner, just disconnect the ends that connect with the air cleaner, and make sure that you remember specifically where they were attached. Draw a sketch before you detach anything., (If more than one hose is involved)
You may run your engine using the air cleaner off, but never drive around that way. The quantity of dirt that gets into your engine determines the life of your vehicle. This dirt creates the kind of wear that causes engines to break down.