How to Dispose of Car Air Filters in the Trash

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To run at peak performance a car's engine requires clean fuel and air. The fuel system uses a fuel filter to trap deposits, cleansing the fuel before it arrives in the combustion chamber. Likewise, the engine air intake system uses an air filter to trap airborne dirt and debris, preventing it from fouling the combustion chamber. While no manufacturer has a set mileage or time interval for replacing an engine air filter, it's a good idea to inspect it at every oil change and replace it if you can no longer see light through the filter medium.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bag
  • Open your vehicle's hood. Open the air cleaner assembly. Depending on the year, make and model of vehicle, this might require unlatching the air cleaner top, removing a wing nut that holds the air cleaner lid in place or removing air cleaner retaining screws to take the top off the air box.

  • Lift the old filter out of the air cleaner assembly. Raise the air cleaner up so it blocks your view of a strong light source such as the sun or a shop light. If you cannot see light passing through the filter, replace it.

  • Put the air cleaner into a plastic bag and seal the bag to prevent the dirt inside the air filter from ejecting from the filter medium.

  • Place the bag-wrapped air filter in a trash can.

  • Install the new air filter in reverse of how you removed the old one. Close the air cleaner assembly and shut the car's hood.

Tips & Warnings

  • While you should dispose of oil and fuel filters in accordance with local hazardous material disposal ordinances, air filters do not contain any hazardous materials. As such, engine air filters are suitable for household trash removal. If you have a washable air filter, do not dispose of it unless the filter medium is damaged, in which case you can also dispose of it in the same manner as a standard air filter.

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