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DIY: How to Change Your Air Filter

The air filter and positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve are important parts of your vehicle's fuel system.

What You Will Need:

  1. Phillips and straight blade screwdrivers
  2. Assorted wrenches
  3. Pliers
  4. New air filter
  5. New breather filter

Why change your Air Filter?

The air filter and positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve are important parts of your vehicle's air intake system. Your air filter removes dirt and provides clean air to your vehicles fuel system. A clogged or dirty, air filter can cause your vehicle to run rough, idle rough and reduce gas mileage.

The Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve prevents the release of gas fumes and blow by vapors from the engines crankcase. If it becomes blocked or clogged, it can cause oil leaks and promote the formation of sludge in the engine.

You should change your air filter every 15,000 miles or one year. If you live in an especially dusty or dirty area, you may need to change it more often. To see if your air filter needs to be replaced, shine a flash light from the inside out. If you can't see any light or very little light, it needs to be replaced. Change the breather filter and check the PCV at the same time.

If you have an older car, the air filter is in a big round housing on top of the engine. These are very simple to change. Simply unscrew the wing nut holding the cover down and lift it off. There may be three or four clips holding down the cover as well. Just unsnap the clips as well.

All you need do now is remove the old air filter and install the new one. Make sure it is the right air filter for the car. If it is too big, the cover will not go back on and if it is too small, the cover will not seal to the top of the filter.

Now, change the breather element. Most breather elements come in a plastic holder with a fitting that goes through the side of the air filter housing. There is a clip around the fitting on the outside. Just pull the clip off, replace the breather filter and pop the clip back on. Replace the air filter cover and tighten it snugly, bit overly tight.

In newer cars, the air filters are generally rectangular in shape and involve a little more work to get to. Look for a rectangular shaped housing under the hood. It will usually be located on one of the fender wells or over the radiator area. On most Chrysler 4 cylinder engines, it's located between the engine and the firewall. Cover attachments vary; on some there will be four or six screws around the outside edge. There may be four clips or a combination of both. Use the appropriate tools to open the cover and remove the air filter. Be careful not to let any dirt or debris fall into the bottom of the housing. When you install the new air filter, reattach the air filter housing and be careful not to over tighten the holding screws.

Air filters of this type do not have a breather filter since the PCV inlet is below the air filter. You should still check the PCV and be sure it's in good shape.

This is one of the easiest things you can do and it will reward you with a smoother running and more fuel-efficient engine.

Additional Information provided courtesy of
ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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