Cleaning your air filter is a good way to get some more use out of it. While you can’t reuse it if the air filter has any damage (like if a rodent chewed on it, or there are holes worn in it), a damage-free air filter should work again with a good cleaning.
Determine whether you have a dry air filter or an oiled air filter. Both can take a cleaning, but the steps are a little different. Diesel engines may also have a canister style filter with yet another type of cleaning process.
Once you know which type of filter you have, you can follow these steps to learn how to clean an air filter. Check it out!
Remove Air Filter
The first step is to remove the old air filter. Open the hood of the vehicle and locate the air filter (it’s usually square, but older models may have a round filter near the carburetor). If necessary, remove any nuts or bolts holding the filter in place before removing.
The Cleaning Process: How to Clean an Air Filter
For dry filters, use a strong vacuum like a Shop-Vac to clean the dirt from the filter. Shake it well, and make sure all the dirt is off it when you’re finished cleaning it.
For oiled filters, use warm soapy water to clean the filter, making sure to rinse well. If necessary, wash again to make sure the filter gets as clean as possible. Let it air dry all the way before attempting to reinstall.
For diesel engine air filters with a canister style air filter, try an air filter cleaner like this one. It can go on the road because it’s portable and uses a compressor to make sure as much dirt as possible comes off the filter.
Skip this step if you have a dry filter. It doesn’t need to be re-oiled.
If you have an oiled filter, coat the filter with a specialty oil. You can get this in an air filter cleaning kit, or you can buy it separately at the auto parts store. After coating it with the oil, let it sit and soak up the excess oil before you replace it in the vehicle.
Once it’s ready to use again, put the cleaned filter back in the engine. Use all the hardware that held it on before, making sure you didn’t lose any pieces. A magnetic bowl can help with keeping track of small parts.
Make sure you note whether you’re putting in a new filter or a used filter, because you’ll need to replace a re-used filter sooner. It’s a great way to save money and get your filters to go the extra mile. Still, you’ll want to replace it a little sooner next time than you would with a brand new filter.
Once you’re done, your engine will be able to maximize airflow and keep itself clean. Some studies show it also helps increase acceleration.
Following these steps for how to clean an air filter will make the project run smoothly. Soon you’ll be on the road again.
Make sure you follow directions carefully for safety. If you’re not sure about something, ask a professional who can guide you through the process.
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