How to Clean Air Filter car Professionally and why you have to do it

Let’s discuss how to clean the air filter car and why you need to do this. You will perform this action in two cases. The first reason why is when you want to prolong the lifespan of the air filter. It should be changed every 30000 miles, but if you clean it, you can change it after 50000. The second reason is when you want to make sure the air filter is in perfect condition and your car is getting all the air it needs.

How to Clean Air Filter Car Step By Step

In order to make sure the air filter is properly cleaned and protected you will need to follow the guide below. It requires you 10 minutes of time and basic tools.

Things and tools you will need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Filter oil spray
  • Brush
  • Vacuum cleane

Secure the car and locate the air filter

You won’t need to know how to clean a paper air filter in your car? Well, the first thing you need to do is to find it. An air filter is located in a plastic housing inside the engine bay, usually on the front of the vehicle. Make sure to turn off the engine and secure the car using a parking brake. You will see a massive housing or hose leading from the air intake to the air filter housing.

Remove the air filter

Simply undo the 4 or fewer screws present on the air filter housing and take off the air filter. This step is the same for all cars such as BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and etc. Don’t forget that some cars have 3 or 2 screws and clips that hold the air filter cover. Make sure you do not break the clips or you will have to replace the entire air filter housing.

Wash the air filter

It is important to use warm water and not hot with soap. Use the brush to rub the mixture in all curves of the air filter and to remove all the dust and debris from the filter. Take your time and don’t rush this step. You are done once your air filter looks like new. In addition, you can use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum the larger particles from the surface of the air filter. This is optional and in most cases, soap and water will be sufficient. We said warm water because hot water can damage the paper construction of the air filter so it should be avoided. Once you are done, let the air filter dry on the sun. Don’t use hot air guns or anything like that or you will damage the construction.

How to clean air filter

Vacuum the housing compartment

Almost always you will see some dust and large particles inside the air filter housing and around the air filter. You should remove them. Using a vacuum cleaner is the best and the most effective method. If you want to learn how to clean the engine air filter properly, you need to use this step. Make sure that the air intake is perfectly clean as well because it is known that some insects and spiders like making nests there. You can use a rubber hose as an addition to the vacuum cleaner to make sure this part is clean.

Apply air filter oil spray

Here is an important step that is highly recommended. You need a spray that comes in all possible sizes and with different characteristics. All of them are on an oily base and they are made by well-known brands such as Motul or etc. You will use this spray to apply a thin layer of coating all around the air filter. This coating is used to capture the smallest dust particles from the air. The air filtration will be much better and you will eliminate the risk of some small particles reaching the car engine.

air filter oil spray

We will also add that KN or high-performance air filters require different types of spray. They have two components. The first one is used to clean the surface and the second one is used to apply the sticky coating. We will have to recommend this step to all drivers who live in an area with dirt roads or who like off-roading. This step should be a part of regular maintenance and should be used on new air filters as well.

Install the air filter back to the housing

The step we have here is obvious. Once you have cleaned the air filter and it is perfectly clean, with the applied coating of the sticky compound, you should mount it back to the housing. There is only one, accurate position in which the air filter can be installed back and you should make sure to put it back properly. The reason why is obvious. If you make a mistake, there will be a gap between the air filter and the housing where the air will pass, unfiltered, and reach the engine. This can cause various damages to the engine and can significantly decrease performance.

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Start the engine

Although this isn’t a mandatory step, you will likely want to see the fruits of your labor. Once you are done with all the steps mentioned above. Start the engine and you should notice better throttle response, more power, and a quieter engine. Your engine is protected as it should and you are ready to make as many miles as you like. After 20000 miles repeat all the steps and your car will continue to run smoothly.


Still, want to know how to clean air filter car? We guided you through the entire process and we helped you learn why this is an important task. Be free to clean the air filter as often as possible, but replace it when you see damages and cracks to the surface. An air filter is the cheapest maintenance point of your car that has a huge effect on the performance and durability of the engine.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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