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When should i change the air filter ?

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Got 2001 that i bought with 70000 miles and i havent ever replaced the filter. It now has 115000. It has a filter guage that is suppose to tell when it needs changed but it doesnt look like its moved since i had the truck. I took the filter out and here is how it looks. It is stained looking but betwee the seems it doesnt look dirty and pretty white..maybe its more dusty then i think and i'm just not seeing it. You guys think it needs changed and my gauge is probably not working ?


Edited by buckhousebuck
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buckhousebuck - You saying it's white between the seams, it's probably not that bad. That filter is fairly inexpensive, get a new one and note the difference in get-up-and-go. Performance versus the indicator should dictate how dirty you should let it get in the future.

Edited by The Zip
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Manfacturers of oil filters make OEM type air filters, I use K&N but that is just a personal preference. A cotton filter like the one you show is fine and not as expensive as K&N. But then K&N advertises 1 million miles as long as you keep it clean and charged. If you are not familiar with K&N, I wouldn't recommend using it. You can screw-up emission control components if you overcharge the filter.

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I've had 4 trucks with the air filter gauge on them, I've never seen the indicator move on any of them.


For comparison's sake, here's what my Purolator filter looked like with just shy of 28,000 miles on it (< 20 miles of those being off-road):








The white one is a new AC Delco:








If my filter looked like yours, I'd go ahead & spend the $25 for a new one. I'd probably clean the MAF and throttle body while I was at it.



  • Like 1
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I change mine once a year....my filter gauge has always shown green.....I guess it would really have to get plugged up to change



An air filter is $20-$25...that's $2 per month if you change it once a year


The air filter indicator on my 98 never moved in the 13 years that I had it (and I went almost 2.5 years between filter changes one time)

Edited by hammerhead611
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I basically change mine out every 15k miles. Is it a waste, maybe but I do live in a dusty environment from all the farm land around me. Also I just use Fram air filters from Amazon. Cheaper than Walmart. All my used oil analysis's (UOA's) show great results.


Now my in cab filter gets pretty nasty in a year so it gets changed out once a year. Amazing that crap that falls out when I pull both of those filters out from under the dash.

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I've also heard of "over-filtering", or changing too often. The premise is that a brand-new filter is less efficient than one that has been "loaded" with a small amount of dirt, because the dirt will seal-off some of the microscopic holes in the filter media. I found it discussed here: http://www.fleetequipmentmag.com/clearing-engine-air/



He goes on to say that over-servicing will spur increased service cost in both time and material, and may cause dust contamination of the engine due to:

  • Filter damage from excessive handling;
  • Increased chance of improper installation of the filter; and
  • Increased initial inefficiency.

The efficiency of an air filter increases as it is used. As soon as the air filter is put into operation, it begins to remove harmful dust particles. As these particles accumulate throughout the filter media, many of the microscopic openings in the media become obstructed. This on-going reduction in the size of the openings helps the filter stop smaller dust particles, thus resulting in a more efficient filter. As the filter continues to load with contamination, the filter will develop a dust cake that further increases filter efficiency. The restriction to air flow will increase with this dust loading until it reaches the engine manufacturer’s specified restriction level. This defines the dust capacity of the filter element.



Just food for thought... or, maybe just food for overthinking.


I usually check the filter at the "heavy use conditions" mileage, and keep an eye on it every 5K miles thereafter.



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