Your car's air filter collects dust, dirt, and other debris, preventing them from clogging up your engine and ensuring proper air flow. If your air filter becomes clogged, your engine will receive less air, which will reduce performance and make your vehicle's fuel efficiency much worse. In order to prevent this, you should clean out your car's air filter semi-regularly, once every few months or after periods of extensive driving (your owner's manual will have exact mileage and time requirements for your specific model). Thankfully, cleaning out your car's air filter is a fairly simple process that you can do yourself with just a few simple tools.
There are two main methods for cleaning a car's air filter: using soap or using a vacuum. Using a vacuum is much quicker, but less effective. Using soap and water will provide a deeper clean, but will take more time and runs the risk of damaging your vehicle if the filter is inserted into the engine while still wet.
Before You Begin
Before you get started, you should gather up everything you'll need. You'll need a shop vac if you're vacuuming the filter, and a bucket of warm water and soap, a rag, and a towel if you're washing the filter.
Make sure that the car has been off for at least an hour before you begin working on it to prevent burning yourself.
Cleaning the Filter
Vacuuming the Filter
First, locate the filter underneath your vehicle's hood. Check your owner's manual, but it is usually located at the front of the hood, just in front of the engine block.
Remove the air filter from the enclosure. Depending on the model of your car, it will either be held in place using wing nuts or a series of clamps: in either case, you can remove it by hand.
Shake out the filter gently to remove any loose debris, and then run the vacuum cleaner over each side of the filter for roughly a minute. Use the vacuum cleaner to clean out the enclosure that normally holds the air filter as well, to catch any left behind debris.
Finally, reinsert the filter into the vehicle and fasten the clasps.
Washing the Filter
Remove the filter in the same method as mentioned above, and then dip it into the bucket of soapy water. Move it around to loosen the debris, and then remove it from the bucket. Shake it to remove excess water.
Lay the filter on the towel, preferably in the sun. Allow for it to air dry, which can take several hours depending on the temperature and filter in question. The filter must be completely dry when you reinsert it.
Use a rag to clean out the air filter enclosure to remove any leftover debris, and then reinsert the filter, fastening the clasps after you have done so.
If you need help cleaning your filter, or if you discover you need a new filter, contact a company like Williams Oil Filter Service Co.