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DIY: How to Change Your Engine Air Filter

Dirty air filterWe are one week closer to summer, when hopefully any residual snow or flash-freezing that has plagued the roads across the northernmost part of the country has finally disappeared, allowing muscle car enthusiasts to finally take their cool rides out on the streets. After all, it’s not just you who has been holed up all winter because of the inclement weather. Your classic sports car also likely spent the last several months in storage, just waiting to return to its natural habitat and burn some rubber.

However, as we’ve discussed before on this blog, making your car look beautiful is only step one in the process of getting it ready for some spring cruising. There is also a bevy of tweaks to be made under the hood and behind the wheel to make sure that you’re having the best ride possible come May.

One of the most basic yet extremely important DIY car repairs that you can make is checking the filters in your ride.

Start off by checking your engine’s air filter, as this piece can be found in pretty much any make or model car built over the past half century. Not only that, but changing or inspecting your air filter is one of the easiest maintenance rituals a car owner can perform, and also pretty cheap. When having a mechanic take care of this for you, you could potentially be throwing away about $15 in just service charge – this doesn’t even include the roughly $10 cost of a new filter, which you could easily purchase and install yourself.

The whole process takes about 10 minutes out of your day – as opposed to the entire afternoon that could be spent waiting around the shop – and only really requires a butter knife and two screwdrivers – a flathead and Phillips. Once the engine is completely cooled, you can pop the hood open and begin.

If you have a newer car – one made in the past three decades – the filter is housed in a large plastic box either near the top of your engine – aligned at the center of the block parallel to the cabin – or off to either side. It’s pretty easy to locate as the filter casing is generally the largest non-metal item under the hood.

To open up this box, there should be two metal clips on either side holding the cover in place that will easily pop off with a little pressure. For this, either insert your butter knife and separate the cover from the main casing or do the same using a flathead screwdriver. Along the sides of the casing you may find a few bolts holding the filter in place that you can easily unscrew using the Phillips.

For older rides – basically, any engine that has a top-mounted carburetor – removing the air filter is even easier, as it is housed in that circular metal container directly over the carburetor. In almost all cases, these can be removed simply by spinning the small wingnut at the center of the casing by hand.

For either kind of air filter, replacing it is basically the same – pop a new one that you purchased at the auto shop into the casing and reattach the lid. Once you have done this, you can ensure that all of the pollen and dust that are in the air this spring won’t be clogging up your engines, allowing you to enjoy the ride – unless of course you got allergies.

Video by: ore83

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