One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your vehicle’s fuel efficiency is to regularly check and change your air filter. Your car runs on a balanced ratio of air and fuel, making a clean air filter all the more important. By trapping dust, debris and insects your car’s air filter reduces the amount of buildup in the engine and fuel systems. Buildup of dirt and grime can lower fuel efficiency as well as cause unneeded damage to your fuel injection system and engine. All it takes are a few quick and easy steps to increase the life and efficiency of your vehicle.

In newer cars the filter is housed under the hood in a square housing between the front grill and the engine. For older vehicles, the housing will be a bulky, rounded metal or plastic covering. Each make and model has its own specific filter size and type, so check your owner’s manual for specifics. With the car parked on level ground and with the engine off, locate your air filter unit. Loosen the hose clamp and undo all of the screws holding the cover in place. Pull the cover off, being careful not to drop or lose any screws, and set aside. There will be a round or rectangular filter made of paper or a cotton-like material that is easily removable.

You can use compressed air to blow out any debris or dust that has built up in the housing for the filter. Be sure to cover the air conduit to avoid blowing any dirt into the engine during cleaning. Next, swap the old filter for a new one by simply inserting it into the housing with the rubber rim facing out. There should be a tight fit around the edges. Unseal the air conduit, keeping it clear of any debris. Replace the cover, inserting it over the air conduit first and then securely lowering the remainder. It’s important to make sure the cover is on securely. A loose cover could cause performance problems down the road by letting in dirt or excess air.

Most air filters are inexpensive, ranging from $8 to $15 and can be found at your local auto parts store. It is recommended you check your air filter approximately once every 6 months and replace it once a year or every 30,000 miles. Most oil changes include or offer an air filter change so be sure to ask. By regularly checking and replacing your air filter you will decrease the amount of debris collecting in your engine. This helps maximize your fuel efficiency and reduce acceleration time making it a cheap preventative step to getting the most out of your vehicle.