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Air filter questions

Mazda Protege 1996, 129,000 miles.

It is time to change the air filter and after my first foray into the world of diy repairs, I am ready to think about the possibility of maybe doing this myself! I have found simple instructions online which confirm my thinking, “I can do this”. Several questions:

  1. Is there anything to watch out for?
  2. What kind of filter is recommended? cloth, paper, foam? I see several kinds when I did my research.
  3. Is a “performance” filter really necessary? pros? cons? I drive only in town, but get the car out about once per month to get it up to 65 or 70.

Thank you!

“Performance” is not necessary. An ordinary $10-$15 paper filter will do fine.

Just go to the parts store and get the OEM specified air filter. This is the filter that was used to test the engine on the dyno to get the best performance/protection for the engine when it was tested.


Oh heck yah…the air filter is one thing you SHOULD do yourself and not pay them to do it at oil change time.
Get anything you want at the McParts stores.
At O’Reilly’s ;
Microguard $ 9.00
Wix $ 15.00
Fram $ 17.00

jesmed1, Tester and ken green:

These are exactly the answers I was looking for! Thanks!

Agree with others, just OEM. The only thing in changing it is to watch how it comes apart and if there is good access to get the cover off without taking other items off. Make sure you get it put on right side up and make sure it is the same as the old one. Then when you put it back on make sure the housing is sealed down properly and you snap or screw everything back into place. Also sometimes there is a sensor with wires attached so just be careful you don’t damage it.

I have start to buy my air filter and cabin filters online too. Usually I am short a few bucks for free shipping on Amazon, so I will add one filter that is due for one of my cars. They are much cheaper online and you also have more selections while sitting in your shorts.

OEM filters all the way and change them yourself.

OEM, WIX or NAPA. I got 5 Toyota OEM oil filters on Amazon for almost half the price of the dealer. Stay away from oiled performance filters. They last 50k miles, but they will gunk up your MAF sensor and cause idle problems. I know, I did it and I got rid of mine after having to clean the MAF sensor.

How often does a cabin filter need to be changed?

@Juanita just follow the recommended interval in your vehicle owner’s manual. You can’t go wrong there. You can lessen the interval yourself but never extend any interval and that goes for your fluid changes as well.

I remove the filter, look at it, and decide if it is dirty enough to change. Look between the pleats, too. A lot of the debris can be just shaken off. You are looking for dirt pushed into the filter media. I do this for both the engine and cabin air filters. Check then every time you change oil. You will probably need to change them every 2nd or 3rd oil change.

Just be sure, when you are closing up the air-filter housing, that the new filter is positioned correctly and the box is sealed tight so no dirt can get around the filter…Your car may not have a cabin filter…Check your owners manual…

All good suggestions! Thanks!

I’m with jesmed on this. Budget filters from Walmart will serve you just as well as the “Genuine Mazda” filters for a fraction of the cost.

As regards changing them yourself, it’s easy. I think that since you’re becoming more involved in maintaining the car yourself a repair manual from any parts store (or the internet) will be an investment that will quickly pay for itself.

I have received a downloaded manual from a friend who actually found it on the internet, the same mountainbike. It is even searchable. It is helpful and has a scheduled maintenance section as well.

By searching the manual, I discovered there is not a cabin filter, at least by that name, Caddyman.

It’s recommended that the cabin air filter be replaced every 30,000 miles.

Or if you can smell a fart from the vehicle in front of you:)


@tester so funny!

Thanks for the feedback. My car also has no cabin filter. It has a housing for one, but Scion didn’t start putting the filters in until the following year. Nomatter. I didn’t want one anyway.

Cabin filters are good. I prefer the air through them rather than opening the windows. It has only been a few years that I have a car with cabin filter.

The air and cabin filter life also depends on the air quality of where you live/drive. I am in CA and it is dry and windy for the most part. I have noticed that my cabin filter is pretty gunky at around 20K miles, whereas the manual calls for 30K mile change. I get them real cheap online and now I have started buying ones with activated charcoal. Not sure if they are any better though :slight_smile: