CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Air filter change

How often should your car’s air filter be changed? I have a 2006 Toyota Corolla. Every time I go in for an oil change every 6 months, they always want to change the air filter too. But I wonder if it’s always necessary.

It depends on where you live, how often you drive and under what conditions.

But replacing the air filter every six months shouldn’t be necessary.

Tester

.

2 Likes

Thanks. I live in Hawaii, a warm climate, don’t drive too much. Drove maybe less than 5,000 miles probably in 2020 so far. Mixture of some short stop and go trips and some highway trips. Maybe about a year since I had the air filter changed.

I change the engine air and cabin air filters every 20,000. Not that they are real bad but easy to remember.

Is there a lot of dust in the air where you live? I’d guess not. You can probably go a couple-a-three years before changing the engine air filter. If you change it yourself, you can inspect it and change as needed. Too dirty is when you think the dirt keeps air from flowing thorough the filter. You are estimating the % coverage of dirt on the filter.

We have pretty good air quality where I live.

Thanks for the information

Pretty clear air in Southern Minnesota too but still dust, dirt, and bugs collect on the filters.

When does your owner’s manual tell you to change it? Why don’t you believe what the people who built your car recommend?

2 Likes

Air filter replacement is usually listed in the maintenance schedule every 3 years/30,000 miles, more often if you live on a dirt road.

The lube techs are going to try to up-sell filters on every visit, if they don’t make up-sells they only make minimum wage.

I worked next to a used car technician for years that replaced air filters if there was a spec of dirt or a dead fly on the filter. The real reason for replacing the filters was because the company paid 1/2 hour labor to slide in two filters. Every used car received new filters and a wheel alignment, easy money.

5 Likes

Six months is a bit much unless there’s a ton of miles accumulated and/or you’re out on the dirt roads a lot.
Around here I have to clean out the condenser on my central A/C unit twice a year; mostly due to milkweed. Once in early spring and again in mid summer.
Milkweed and wheat chaff along with other harvest debris kind of mucks up automotive air filters also.

I once took my Miata to one of those quick-oil change shops, run by a major oil manufacturer. I decided I didn’t want the shop to do ANYTHING else to the car. When I saw the tech start to open the hood and approach the air filter, I informed him that I didn’t want anything else other than the oil change. I saw the tech go to the manager, and after they talked, the manager came to me and told me that they were all out of the oil that my car needed (10W-30). I haven’t gone to a quick change place for 15 years. Similarly, there are many places that I will not go for my car inspections. I got kicked out of one station because they told me that in five years, they had never found anything wrong with my car, and they weren’t making any money.

1 Like

It takes 5 minute to remove an air filter.Why don’t you inspect it yourself instead of relying on what the mechanic says.You don’t need a lot of mechanic skill to do this…if my 3 year old grandson can do it so can you.

Some air filters aren’t so easy to check, with hard to find/release clips and stiff hoses to the air intake.

4 Likes

My previous car was a 2006 Toyota Matrix with the same engine as the Corolla.
The filter is easy to access and requires no tools.
The manual says every 30,000 miles for the filter, unless driving in dusty conditions, then it’s 15,000.
Later on I installed a restriction gauge; when it reached half the restriction limit I replaced the filter.
That took 43,000 miles.
So 30,000 miles is a safe and slightly conservative interval in most cases.

Where are you taking it for the oil change? If it’s a quick change place (in which case, find a different place for a number of reasons) then most of them are trying to get every customer to replace the filter at every oil change because it makes them money.

They’ll often bring over a very dirty, ragged out filter to show you how badly it needs to be done, but it’s not uncommon for them to deceive you by using their own dirty filter rather than showing you the one that’s actually in your car.

Its a Corolla and there is only 4 clips to release and pop out the filter.

1 Like

FWIW, I used to work for a supplier of air intakes, and Toyota was big on design for serviceability. The air box caps were always held on with 4 to 6 thumb clips and were readily accessible. GM for whatever reason secured theirs with torx screws. That was always a hassle.

My Pontiac has clips but I do remember the brass screws. You needed to use anti-seize on them to make sure you didn’t break the inserts out.

go by the manual but if you just drive on normal paved roads filters last a long time . 30-35000 miles is a good target . I have changed them at this mileage and even then they are not very dirty at all .