Car air filter question

  • #1
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After getting an oil change yesterday, the people there said my air filter was pretty dirty and it needed to be changed soon. They didn't have a replacement, but said the one I need is like 50$.
I was wondering if you really need to replace the air filter, or if you can just clean it.
If you can clean it, that means those people took out my air filter, saw how dirty it was, and then put it right back in. That seems kinda strange to me. That's like a doctor doing an operation on someone, and he checks everything else out while he's in there, sees there's a kidney stone in the kidney and leaves it there and tells you later that you should get a new kidney soon.
 

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  • #2
BobG
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I don't know what kind of exotic car you have to own a $50 air filter that needs replaced, unless....

For most cars, there's two different strategies for buying air filters:

1) Buy the cheap air filters and replace them when you change your oil (or perhaps every couple of oil changes, if it's not dirty, but air filters get dirty fairly quickly if you drive off-road a lot, as I do).

2) Buy the expensive air filter that you clean instead of replace. It's the last air filter you should need to buy for your car. Sounds like a great idea and I've done that ..... once. But then I went back to the cheap air filters because replacing them is a lot easier than cleaning them.

It's possible you have the expensive air filters that you're supposed to clean, but have gone so long without cleaning it that it seems like a lost cause. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine having to pay $50 to replace an air filter.
 
  • #3
marcusl
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Yes, you should replace it regularly (yearly is "average," no longer than every 2 years for low mileage driving in "clean" locales, 6 months if you drive a truck on a farm), and no, you can't clean it. $50 sounds high, but you are paying for labor which might be worth the money since changing a filter can be difficult (it certainly is on my 2004 Highlander). You can always do it yourself for around $15-25 from your local auto parts store.
 
  • #4
OmCheeto
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Thank you for reminding me that I need to replace my air filter.

This will be the first time I've done this with my new truck.

And look! An instructional video! Looks about as difficult as on my last 10 vehicles.

Googling indicates that it will cost me between $12 and $56.

ps. I have never cleaned an air filter, nor, to my knowledge, had a kidney stone.
 
  • #5
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Buy the expensive air filter that you clean instead of replace.
I didn't know there was such a thing. How do you clean them?
 
  • #6
Ivan Seeking
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I was wondering if you really need to replace the air filter, or if you can just clean it.
You can blow it off with an air line but particulates are embedded in the material itself.
 
  • #7
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I didn't know there was such a thing. How do you clean them?
I had one of the K&N's once. You need a special oil and there is a procedure.

To the OP: Just buy one at a parts store and do it yourself. They are usually quite simple (unless your car makes the air filter particularly difficult to access, but most cars are pretty straightforward). Probably shouldn't be more than $20 (USD) and an hour of your time (probably more like 15 minutes after you have done it a few times).
 
  • #8
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Actually the price the lady gave me was just the price of the filter. I checked online and it was about right. I have a Mazda 2, so not only do I need an expensive oil, but I need an expensive air filter too. That's why I wanted to just clean it.
 
  • #9
OmCheeto
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So you have a cleanable air filter installed?

I've never had one of those.

Press the button for my solution:
https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT2ieP1ZdYIgfpfVSJf3T6MW-kSyUBpmD5iQm6hda20a4zKDfDr [Broken]

~$10 for the cheap disposable ones.

ps. I would never jeopardize the life of my $10,000+ investment by worrying about whether or not to pay $10-$50 annually to keep it properly maintained. But that's just me.
pps. I change my own oil and filters.
ppps. I am so glad I got rid of my Chrysler Ebola......
 
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  • #10
jim hardy
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Near as i can tell, a Mazda 2 takes Fram CA9484 air filter, Should be twenty bucks or so at an auto parts store.. half that mail order but add shipping....

Learn to do simple maintenance yourself...

Not an endorsement, just a sample result of google search for your part ....

http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=3071157
 
  • #11
AlephZero
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Near as i can tell, a Mazda 2 takes Fram CA9484 air filter, Should be twenty bucks or so at an auto parts store.. half that mail order but add shipping....
That sounds about right compared with a "manufacturer's original part" - $20 for the filter, plus $30 for a fancy box with a Mazda logo on it.
 
  • #12
Ivan Seeking
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Oh, just stick a panty hose foot into a sock and place it over the intake.
 
  • #13
jim hardy
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I was wondering if you really need to replace the air filter, or if you can just clean it.
They load up with dirt in direction of airflow.
Knock the dust and leaves off incoming side with a soft brush.
If you have an air gun like in that video blow thru it backward.
Look at outgoing side - when it begins turning dark it's time to replace.

I grew up in S Florida where they last ten years because the seabreeze is clean air.
Since moved to midwest now they only go ~2 years, maybe 30 K miles...
 
  • #14
SteamKing
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If you can replace or rebuild your engine for less than $50, I wouldn't worry about it.
 
  • #15
lisab
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If you can replace or rebuild your engine for less than $50, I wouldn't worry about it.
:smile:
 
  • #16
OmCheeto
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If you can replace or rebuild your engine for less than $50, I wouldn't worry about it.
I paid $50 for my first car. I think it might have been the fact that the drivers door was missing that got me such a great deal.

That was in 1975.

I think I spent another $500 trying to get that damn bug to go over 45mph.
Took the whole thing apart.
Put the transaxle back in backwards.
I ended up with 4 reverse gears, and 1 forward gear.

I had the fastest backwards car in town.

:biggrin:
 
  • #17
BobG
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I didn't know there was such a thing. How do you clean them?
Here's the procedure for cleaning the K&N Air Filters.

Instead of buying replacement air filters, you get to buy the cleaning "accessories" periodically.

The bigger pain is Step 3, which requires you to let the filter air dry naturally after cleaning. It turns a 5 minute replacement job into a few hours where your vehicle is unavailable because you're waiting for your air filter to dry.

That's not really a huge pain, but it does require at least a small amount of planning. You clean it at night before you go to bed and then finish the job in the morning after the air cleaner is dry.

Some people swear by these air filters. Personally, I just decided to just go back to the cheap ones that are easy to replace.
 
  • #18
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K&N and similar style air filters are a bad idea for 2 reasons...
first, they let more dirt through the filter. They are designed as a performance upgrade which lets more air into the the engine. The trade-off is less effective filtering and more engine wear.
Second, they use an oily substance to make dirt stick to the fibers of the filter media. This oil can come off of the filter and stick to the heated wire of your mass airflow sensor, causing it's measurement to be skewed. Don't expect the manufacturer to waranty a MAF failure if you install a re-usable filter.

Periodicly removing your air filter and blowing it out with compressed air will extend it's life, but sooner or later you will have to replace it. This is not something most mechanics do because they don't make any money doing it.

Most garages sell oil changes below cost just to get your car in the the shop where they can inspect it and find profitable work they can sell you. The $50 air filter is probably the same one you can get at AutoZone for $25. The shop just markes it up to make a profit. After all, that's what they're there for right? It is a business.
 
  • #19
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Most garages sell oil changes below cost just to get your car in the the shop where they can inspect it and find profitable work they can sell you. The $50 air filter is probably the same one you can get at AutoZone for $25. The shop just markes it up to make a profit. After all, that's what they're there for right? It is a business.
The lady told me that I needed to replace my air filter soon and that they didn't have one in stock, and she told me it was 50$. Was she talking about the K&N air filter? Because I looked up the prices of the air filters for Mazda 2's, and the K&N air filter is about 50$. But if it's a reusable air filter, why would I need to buy a new one?
 
  • #20
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The lady told me that I needed to replace my air filter soon and that they didn't have one in stock, and she told me it was 50$. Was she talking about the K&N air filter? Because I looked up the prices of the air filters for Mazda 2's, and the K&N air filter is about 50$. But if it's a reusable air filter, why would I need to buy a new one?
No. She was selling you a paper air filter. Like I said, if you bought that same filter at a parts store it would cost you $25. The shop was marking it up in order to cover their cost of doing business and so they would have pay checks at the end of the week.
 

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