Fuel Economy Tip – Replace Your Air Filter

Today’s tip will might cost you up to $20 bucks but in the end will probably help you save 10 times that amount!

Replace your dirty air filter.

According to fueleconomy.gov driving with an excessively dirty or clogged air filter can reduce your vehicle’s gas mileage by up to 10%. In terms of dollars, that’s the equivalent of adding close to $.30 to each gallon of gas you buy!

Edmonds.com recommends that you change your air filter at least once per year. But how do you know when your car’s air filter is dirty enough so that it should be replaced?

Here’s a simple way to know that your air filter has become so clogged that it has become a detriment to your fuel economy: Remove the air filter from its casing and shine a flashlight on it. If light (or most of the light) is able to get through, your air filter is fine for the time being. However, if most of the light is unable to get through, it’s time for you to replace the filter.

More than likely, the air filter that you would need is readily available at most auto parts stores and you should be able to replace the filter on your own. All said and done, it should take less than 15 minutes to check and, if necessary, replace a clogged air filter.

Sounds to me that 15 minutes and $20 bucks (for the new filter) is time and money well spent if it means your not tacking $.30 extra cents on to each gallon of gas you buy!


  1. Is 30 cents per gallon equivalent to 10% savings per mileage?
    eg. If your mpg is 30 and you fill in 10 gallons, you can drive 300 miles on one fill. Bad air filter causes 10% loss, so you can drive only 270 miles or 27 mpg. If you pay 3$ per gallon, you pay 30$ for 270 miles or 1/9 $/mile instead of 1/10$ per mile or 0.01 $/mile * 270 miles / 10 gallons = 2.7 cents per gal..
    Just kiddin, its 27 cents.. she’s right! sorry 🙂

  2. If you click on the “Data Sources” button on that EPA report, you’ll notice that the penalty for a dirty air filter is from a study conducted in 1981, which the EPA admits was “before the introduction of computer-controlled, fuel-injection engines.” Modern engines can probably compensate for a dirty air filter better. Keeping a clean air filter is still not bad advice, but that 10 percent might be a questionable statistic…


  1. […] Replace your car’s dirty air filter. Driving around with a dirty or clogged air filter can reduce your vehicle’s gas mileage by up to ten percent, which at today’s prices, is the equivalent of adding about 28 cents to each gallon of gasoline you buy. It probably takes less than ten minutes to change the filter and will probably set you back less than 20 dollars, so there’s really no excuse to not get this done. […]

  2. […] out of kilter. A dirty air filter can actually decrease your mileage by 1 to 2 miles per gallon. Cleaning your air filter or replacing it will thus save you money on gas almost immediately. In most cars that have a replaceable air filter […]

  3. […] for whether a new air filter can increase fuel economy, it’s been found in numerous tests that it won’t. In most tests it increases acceleration and […]

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