How often should you change your car air filter?

Should I be changing my car air filter often? I've never really thought about changing the filter, but it's starting to feel stuffy and a little musty in the car.

Joshua Levy · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
Good question! When replacing your car’s air filter, you should check your owner’s manual for recommended change times. Different cars may have different needs, but the general rule is that you should swap out your air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.
However, it’s important to clarify that your car actually has two air filters. They both serve distinct purposes and should be changed periodically for the sake of health, safety, and driving performance.
Cabin air filters collect pollen and dust that might come inside through the air conditioning, heating, or ventilation systems. Your problem is likely related to the cabin air filter. Changing this filter is especially important if you live in an area with poor air quality.
Engine air filters stop particles of dust and dirt from getting into your engine. It’s hard to make a universal rule for changing your engine filter because the recommended time varies from car to car. However, it may be a good idea to get your filter checked if you’ve driven more than 30,000 miles without changing it. Clogged engine filters can lead to decreased mileage, lower acceleration, and higher emissions.
Alternatively, clogged cabin filters could damage your air conditioning system. Failure to replace air filters can be pricey and rarely covered by insurance. However, policy add-ons like mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) may provide coverage, depending on your provider’s definition of
wear and tear
If MBI sounds like a must-have, try calling your insurance provider and asking if they offer it. Make sure to ask about its range of coverage and any exclusions before making a final decision.
If you can’t find what you need at your current provider, check out the
app. We’ll get you customized quotes from top insurers in seconds, so that all you need to do is pick the plan that works best for you. And once you pick one, we’ll even help you switch!
Best of luck with getting that air filter taken care of!
View full answer 
Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.

Join 4M+ members in lowering their car insurance

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free