Car Air Filter Replacement Cost Guide

Author: Daniel Rey

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During the engine combustion, your vehicle gets oxygen from its environment in order to burn the fuel properly and efficiently. The last thing that your car’s engine needs is to get contaminated by filthy air.

Without an air filter, your vehicle’s engine parts will be running with dirt, dust, and other particles that may result in clogging and blockages in the exhaust system.

If dirty air filters are left on the vehicle too long, less oxygen will be able to get into the engine and not enough fuel will be burnt to supply power in your vehicle.

Estimated Cost of Car Air Filter Replacement

For some reason, not a lot knows that the engine’s air filter should be cleaned or replaced after 24,000 miles or every two years, whichever comes first. When you go to different dealerships or auto shops, they might say something different so it is best to check your vehicle’s manual for the suggested time to replace your car’s air filter.

The car air filter change cost alone should not really be expensive since it is a very basic routine care for your vehicle. If the air filter is somewhere that is easy to reach, it should not take more than an hour to have it replaced. For professionals, it should just take about 20 minutes to do so. It just really depends on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

For labor rates, always keep in mind that it will be more expensive if you take your car to a dealership. Dealerships tend to charge more since they have partnerships with various carmakers and they have the access to the best service available.

Independent auto repair shops will charge $70 to $80 for a simple maintenance service like changing the vehicle’s engine air filter. This will also depend on what type of air filter will be used. What is most likely with the labor cost is that it’s the lowest they could charge among all the services they offer since this is a simple maintenance work.

Here is a list of popular air filters and their prices. The prices listed do not include any additional parts.

BrandPrice Range
K&N$22 to $120
Mann Filter$12 to 140
Fram$5 to $60
Bosch$12 to $90
AEM DryFlow$15 to $105
Injen$49 to $130
Spectre Performance$50 to $130
Holley$50 to $160
Purolator$11 to $90
EPAuto$8 to $20

Where Can You Get Your Engine’s Air Filter Replaced?

Aside from taking the car to the dealership where you will most likely get charged more for labor, you may take your vehicle to have the engine’s air filter replaced at any auto repair shops near you. Some shops or dealerships would even allow you to bring your own replacement air filter. If you want to make the most from the amount you will pay for labor, it is highly suggested for you to have all other issues on your vehicle be serviced.

Here are a few well-known places all over the states that you may contact to schedule an appointment with or directly visit:

LocationBody ShopContact Number
CAUSA Touch-Up Auto Body, Inc.(408) 292-0808
VABest Auto Body Shop(703) 922-0777
FLAmerica’s Best Auto Body Shop(772) 778-0443
MTBeetle’s Auto Body(406) 248-7600
ILAmerica’s Auto Body(847) 985-3760
NCB&S Body Shop(910) 347-4156
MAHogan & Van Auto Body(781) 436-0366
MIPriority Auto Body(517) 669-6905
VTRay’s Auto Body, Inc.(802) 244-1716
engine air intake

More About the Engine Air Filter

As already mentioned, the air filter helps your engine get clean oxygen to use for engine combustion. With its function, this is one of the areas in your vehicle that can get really dirty.

The engine’s air filter is usually connected to the vehicle’s intake manifold. Most filters are rectangular in shape, but old vehicles usually have a round or donut-shaped air filter.

Manufacturers have different shapes and styles available. Aside from rectangular and round air filters, they also create ones that are in the shape of an oval, triangle, trapezoid, and a lot more with different styles.

The engine air filter, if not exposed, is in the airbox. The easiest way to describe how it looks like is that it is like an accordion.

There are different types of engine air filter but the most common ones are made of paper-like fibers. It was designed to look like an accordion or to have pleated sheets so that it can trap dirt better. Aside from dust, it can be your engine’s shield to bugs, debris, cigarette butts or even leaves.

There are different beliefs as to when the engine’s air filter should be replaced. But aside from checking your vehicle’s manual, it could also be your call. What you really have to consider is the environment you drive in.

It is suggested to replace your engine filter more often if you drive in a polluted area or near the desert since it is most likely that the air your engine is trying to suck is filthy.

Different Types of Engine Air Filter

Before the paper-like engine air filters that are now widely used, vehicles made in 1900-1930 used water baths as air filters. The engine would suck in air through a filtration unit with water and metal shavings. It does the job but eventually, they moved on to using oil so that the particles would stick better on the filtration unit.

Both water and oil bath used for air filtration were tedious to have since the filtration unit has to be cleaned all the time. It was even messier when they used oil and oil-based filtration units that are big and heavy.

In the 1960s, round air paper filters were produced. The reason why they were shaped round was because they were made to be attached to the carburetor. The part of the carburetor where the air filter has to be attached was circular or cylindrical in shape.

Eventually, different manufacturers came up with engine air filters made of different materials.

  • Foam – Air filters that are made of foam are basically like the bath sponge you use at home. The foam air filter is oiled up and put in a filtration unit so that it could filter the air the engine sucks in. The problem with air filters made with foam is that it could easily get clogged with dust or any particles and can greatly affect the amount of air that your engine can take.
  • Cotton – Air filters made with cotton are considered to be the solution to lessen waste since they are reusable. Cotton filters offer an increase in air flow better than paper filters. They are also designed to look pleated and the cotton is oiled up so that it can catch dirt better.
  • Stainless Steel – Engine air filters made of steel promise to give your vehicle more horsepower. This is preferable if you would not want to change your air filter more often. As much as they sound promising to use, some would complain that the sound of your engine will be intensified and they don’t filter like paper or cotton.
  • Oil Bath – Some automobiles are still equipped with an oil bath for engine air filtration. Constructions mobiles are mainly the ones equipped with this since they are used in dusty areas and they can accommodate a big air filtration unit.

When to Get Your Vehicle’s Engine Air Filter Replaced?

Changing or cleaning your engine’s air filter is more of a maintenance service rather than a repair, but your vehicle will need heavy repairs if maintaining this is ditched.

Here are some signs to look out for if you should be replacing your engine’s air filter already:

  • The check engine light is on – this may set off because of many possible reasons and one of it is because your engine is not getting enough oxygen.
  • Dirty looking filter – most air filters look white or red in color. If your filter looks black and has debris or lots of dust in its pleats, have them replaced right away.
  • Reduced horsepower –a dirty air filter will affect your car’s acceleration.
  • Reduced fuel economy – without enough air or oxygen, your engine will not be able to burn fuel efficiently. Your vehicle’s engine will just make up for the lack of oxygen by using more fuel.
  • Damaged spark plugs – a damaged spark plug can cause your engine to misfire and create odd noises. One of the reasons why a spark plug can be damaged is because of unburnt fuel that is caused by a dirty air filter.

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