Air filter replacements are not needed nearly as often as they used to be, but they are still a very common DIY maintenance project for newcomers and experienced vehicle owners alike. They take minimal tools to replace in most cars, and a clogged or dirty air filter can have a big impact on your BMW’s performance.
Decreased Acceleration and Power
The first thing to note is that you can clean a BMW air filter, and that means some symptoms can be remedied without a full replacement if you catch them early. If you try cleaning it and still experience symptoms, then you definitely need a replacement.
- Decreased air flow means decreased engine power because it restricts the reaction speed and strength in the engine
- This also means low gas mileage and slower acceleration
- Engine noises or misfires often develop if the situation is ignored
- A check engine light comes on
- Acceleration causes jerky movements
- Excess smoke from the exhaust pipe
You can visually inspect a filter to see if it looks dirty or clogged to tell for sure. It’s a good idea to inspect the filter periodically when you do other vehicle maintenance like fluid level checks. If you catch a dirty filter visually and clean it before you notice any performance issues, it can save you a lot of extra wear and tear on your vehicle.
Recommended Filter Inspection and Replacement
Your BMW X3 engine air filter is located in the cold air collector box inside your engine compartment. It is located near the front of the engine compartment on the driver’s side for most model years. To access it, you simply need to open the collector box and lift it out. Air filters are sized to the collector boxes and do not have anything fastening them in place within those boxes.
Look for dirt and buildup on the filter. Excessive dust should be obvious and come loose with a little shaking, but clogs caused by small pieces of debris might not be visible until you take a closer look. You can shake the filter a little like you would a rug or doormat to get loose material free, but a full cleaning requires either a vacuum cleaner or an air hose.
When cleaning a filter, the key is to blow debris and dirt off the surface, not through the filter. At best, that will clog your filter. At worst, you’ll need a new air filter car specific replacement because blowing material through the filter rips holes in it. When the filter can no longer be cleaned with a simple vacuuming or air hose cleaning, it’s time to get a new one.
How Often Should You Replace an Air Filter?
BMW recommends replacing engine air filters every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, depending on their performance. That means you can gain a lot of life if you clean your filter and keep an eye on it. The upper end of the recommendation indicates that even well-cared-for filters break down past a certain point, so make sure to replace it on time even if it looks good after 30,000 miles. Adverse conditions can lower the lifespan to 10,000 miles too, so you should start working routine air filter inspections into your maintenance schedule today.