Changing Your Acura TL Air Filter

Before you impose passenger weight restrictions or start throwing luggage out of your Acura TL’s side windows to improve your car’s mileage, first check your air filter. A clogged or dirty air filter can affect your car’s gas mileage by up to 10%. The air filter functions as your engine’s protection device against grime and grit. Think of it as your TL’s Achilles’ heel, if you will. A blocked air filter essentially chokes the car and obstructs air intake. However, the good news is that changing the air filter is an easy process that can be done in under five minutes.

When to Change Your Air Filter

You should replace your air filter every 15,000 or once per year, whichever comes first. If you regularly drive on dirt or unpaved roads, however, you’ll want to check your air filter every two to three months. This is something you can do yourself, and you don’t need the eye of a mechanic to evaluate the condition of the air filter. If you notice dust or dirty build-up in the accordion-like folds of the filter, the filter is dirty and should be changed. Or, to be absolutely certain, simply shine a flashlight from the inside of the filter outward. If you can’t see the beam through the fold, it’s time to jump into air-filter-maintenance mode.

Signs That You Need to Change Your Air Filter

Air filters are found on nearly all cars with internal combustion engines. Without the air filter, debris, pollen and dirt are ingested by the engine and burned inside your TL’s combustion chamber. Not only can this damage the chamber itself, but it can also wreak havoc on the vehicle’s emission components. Fortunately, your Acura will likely give off several symptoms that can tell you that it’s time to change your air filter:

1. Decreased engine performance.

If you’ve noticed a reduction in your engine’s power and performance, it could mean your air filter is in need of a replacement. If an air filter is clogged, it won’t allow for adequate air flow into the engine, and the reduced air intake will have a negative impact on the engine’s efficiency. In severe cases, you may notice a decrease in total power output as well as acceleration.

2. Reduced fuel mileage.

Another common symptom of a dirty air filter is a reduction in fuel mileage. Since a highly contaminated filter won’t be able to efficiently filter the air, the engine won’t get enough air, either. As a result, the reduced air will also decrease the engine’s efficiency and will cause the engine to use more fuel to move the same speed or distance that it would otherwise use if your car had a clean filter.

3. Dirty air filter.

One of the quickest and easiest signs that your air filter needs to be replaced is that it is visually dirty. Simply take a look at the filter, and if it appears to be covered in debris and dirt on the intake side, replace it as soon as possible to avoid damaging your engine.

4. Misfiring spark plugs.

As we’ve discussed, a dirty air filter reduces the amount of air that gets to the engine. This, in turn, causes an overly rich air-fuel blend. This may pollute the TL’s spark plugs with soot which will, in turn, cause your engine to misfire. Consider changing your air filter if you have problems starting the car or if your car idles roughly when running.

5. Unusual engine sounds.

When your car is stationary with the engine on, you should feel and hear the engine’s smooth rotations in the form of subtle vibrations if the air filter is clean. However, if you hear a popping or coughing sound or if your car is excessively vibrating, it’s often due to a damaged or dirty spark plug caused by a clogged air filter.

How to Change Your Air Filter

First, you’ll need to locate your air filter. Pop the hood of your TL and look for a black plastic box. It will be about the size of a loaf of bread and secured with screws or clips. If you’re having difficulty finding it, consult your Acura’s user manual for assistance. Once you’ve found the box, use your hands to open the clips. If you want to keep your fingers clean, you can alternatively use a screwdriver. If your Acura TL is older, you may find the air filter above the engine. It will be covered in a round black device that looks like it holds a pillbox hat. To open it, unscrew the center wing nut. Next, take out the filter and bend the paper ridges to check for dirt and grime. If it’s in need of replacement, head to your nearest auto parts store to buy a new one. Simply insert the new filter and tightly secure the casing once more. Not only is changing your Acura TL air filter a fast process, but it’s also fairly inexpensive. Instead of paying a mechanic $20 to change the filter, you can save yourself at least half the cost by doing it yourself in just a few minutes’ time.


The air filter prevents airborne dirt and dust particles from getting sucked into your Acura’s engine. This paper filter stops grime, leaves and other wayward debris before they can cause damage to your car. If you fail to regularly maintain your air filter and it becomes too clogged or dirty, the engine won’t be able to suck enough air into its combustion chambers. If this happens, the engine will have too much gas and not enough air and will, as a result, lose power. Should you neglect the air filter for a long time, your Acura TL may completely stop running. Although permanent damage is rare, it can happen as abrasive, harmful contaminants are continually sucked into the combustion chamber.