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How to Replace Air Filters Without Risking Your Warranty

BY: Keith Benline
Mechanic replacing a dirty engine air filter

Your vehicle’s engine air filter is responsible for removing dust and contaminants from the air that gets pulled into the engine. When it gets old, a clogged air filter won’t be able to do its job properly, and your engine performance could suffer, or you could end up with other issues like reduced fuel efficiency. For the most part, you should replace your vehicle’s air filter once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. This will ensure that you don’t end up with problems and that your engine can stay in good shape for as long as possible.

As a car owner, while it is important to change your filter regularly to keep your engine running smoothly, it’s also essential if you don’t want to void your vehicle’s factory warranty. Many factory warranties explicitly require you to stay on top of regular maintenance, including air filter changes, spark plug replacements, and oil changes. You also want to be sure that when you change the filter, you are keeping in compliance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Knowing how to replace engine air filters without risking your warranty will help you make the right choices and keep your vehicle in great shape for a long time.

Understanding Warranty Compliance for Car Air Filters

When you buy a new car, it will be covered by a factory warranty provided by the manufacturer. This warranty is usually good for anywhere between three years or 36,000 miles and five years or 60,000 miles. During this time period, if an issue arises with your vehicle through no fault of your own, you can take it to the dealership to have it repaired under your warranty coverage.

There are, however, almost always going to be requirements to keep your vehicle covered. While they may not specifically include air filter changes, they might require regularly scheduled maintenance. If you don’t want to void your vehicle’s factory warranty, it is a good idea to change your air filters on schedule and do it properly.

How to Choose the Right Air Filter

It is incredibly important that you choose the right replacement air filter for your vehicle at the auto parts store if you want to keep your factory warranty coverage active. While there are plenty of aftermarket automotive options available to you when it comes to engine air filters, it will always be best to make sure you are using an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) component.

OEM air filters will be the same brand and model that came with your vehicle and are your best bet when it comes to keeping your warranty valid. Plus, you can be sure that they are compatible with your vehicle and will offer the same level of protection for your engine, which is essential.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing Your Car’s Air Filter

Replacing a car engine air filter is a relatively simple job that should only take a few minutes.

  1. First, you will open the vehicle’s hood and locate the air filter housing. Most of the time, this housing can be opened using plastic latches or clamps on the side, but some makes, and models will require a screwdriver or wingnuts that you have to remove.
  2. Open the housing (or air filter box) and note how the old air filter is placed inside. If possible, take a photo of it so you can reference it when you put the new one in. The old, dirty air filter will most likely be discolored, which is a sign that it is time to replace it.
  3. Put the new air filter in the housing in the same manner as the old one, lining it up properly with any tabs or guidelines. The filter has to be put in correctly; otherwise, it won’t make a tight seal, and it will let dirt and grime into the engine.
  4. Once you have the new filter in, gently close the housing and the hood.
  5. Start the vehicle and listen for any strange noises like humming or whirring. This can be a sign that the new filter isn’t properly aligned in the housing. If you don’t hear any new noises, your new filter should be ready for at least another 12,000 miles.

When to Consult a Professional

If you want to be certain that your new air filter is put in properly and that the right tools and materials are used, it is always best to have the job done by a professional mechanic. A professional can consult your factory warranty and your owner’s manual and will make sure that everything is done correctly so your warranty stays valid.

If possible, take your car to the dealership’s service center and have them replace the filter per your service manual. This is the best way to get peace of mind that your warranty is not being voided and that you are getting the best service possible for your engine air filter replacement.

Documenting Your Maintenance for Warranty Purposes

The other benefit of having your filter replaced by a professional shop is that you can get the proper documentation. When you take your vehicle in for an auto repair that should be covered by your factory warranty, the dealership may want to see proof that you have kept up with the scheduled maintenance.

While you can keep your own documentation when you do car maintenance yourself, your odds of having your warranty claim approved by the manufacturer are much higher if you have an invoice for maintenance procedures by a professional mechanic. It is even better to have it all documented at the dealership, which makes the dealer shop a great choice for your maintenance needs, at least while your factory warranty is still valid.

How Air Filter Maintenance Enhances Extended Warranty Benefits

Once your factory warranty is up, you will be financially responsible for any automotive repairs that have to be done on your vehicle, whether they are a result of a factory flaw or not. If you want to make sure that you are still covered, an extended car warranty, which is more accurately called a vehicle service contract (VSC) or auto protection plan, is a great option. Third-party extended warranties can offer excellent coverage that will help you keep your car running smoothly for a long time and give you the help you need when the time comes to get a repair done.

By keeping up with your air filter replacements, you can keep your auto protection plan valid and increase your odds of getting claims approved. Keeping clean air filters in your vehicle is a low-cost way to keep your engine running smoothly and prevent any issues.

If you have a cap on your extended warranty coverage, this frees up money for other repairs that may be more pressing. Regularly changing the air filter will also help you get the repair you need by showing that you are staying on top of maintenance, which may be a requirement for your VSC coverage.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid when changing out engine air filters is using the wrong type. While there are all kinds of air filter brands and models to choose from, not all of them will be approved by your warranty provider, whether it is a third-party company or the manufacturer. By only using OEM equipment when you replace components, you can be sure that your coverage will remain valid and that you can get the help you need when the time comes.

You should also be sure that the filter is put in correctly when replacing an old one in the housing. If the filter is not airtight, it could let in dirt, road debris, and dust. This will quickly cause issues with your engine and may even void your warranty. Because of how important proper installation is, it is almost always a better idea to have it done by a professional instead of doing it yourself.

Get the Best Coverage for Your Vehicle With Endurance

Changing out an air filter is a simple, fairly inexpensive job that can increase the longevity of your engine and keep your warranty valid. By knowing what to watch out for and learning basic car care, you can protect your vehicle and your warranty coverage. Whether your factory warranty is still running or you have an extended plan, it is always a good idea to do every maintenance procedure correctly and comply with your warranty’s requirements.

If you need the best extended coverage possible, Endurance has auto protection plans available for nearly every kind of car and driver. Starting at a low monthly payment, you can get a custom vehicle service contract, whether it is a high-mileage car or a high-end luxury vehicle.

With plans ranging from basic powertrain coverage all the way up to comprehensive near bumper-to-bumper protection, there is something for everyone. Endurance also has plans for vehicles that other VSC providers won’t cover, such as Canadian Gray Market vehicles, cars with a rebuilt or salvage title, or vehicles used for commercial purposes like rideshare or delivery.

On top of excellent repair coverage, Endurance customers also get a collection of standard benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance, towing, rental car coverage, and trip interruption protection. Plus, for a small activation fee, you can also get access to Elite Benefits, which includes extra perks like tire repairs, key fob replacement, and up to $1,000 in total loss coverage.

Check out our available services and experience our award-winning customer service firsthand by contacting our dedicated team at (800) 253-8203 and requesting a FREE quote. You can also take advantage of our online store for an instant price preview so that you can shop from your coverage plan with confidence.

You can also find more auto expert resources on the Endurance blog. Explore FAQs, warranty provider comparisons, mechanical breakdown insurance guides for California drivers, DIY maintenance know-how, and more.

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