The engine intake air filter is a pleated paper element housed inside a plastic box. The paper is designed to be porous to air flow but prohibit dust particles and grit from entering the engine intake ports. With time and depending on local conditions, the filter element becomes clogged and may eventually slow down or even altogether stop sufficient intake air from entering the engine. If air intake is restricted, fuel economy and engine efficiency is reduced; the restriction may reach a point at which the engine does not run at all.
In this article, I'll go over the steps involved with replacing the air filter on the BMW X3 with an M54 engine. Replacing on other engines is similar.
Replace the air filter once a year or more frequently if you drive in a dusty area. I suggest checking each time you change your engine oil, assuming you are changing your oil every 5,000 miles. It's easy to remove to inspect it and replacing it early will help you maintain your maximum fuel economy.
Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.
Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.
Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please include your vehicle information.
The air filter is located in the air filter housing (red arrow), it is mounted in the left side of the engine compartment.
Then, remove and replace the air filter. I suggest cleaning any debris (red arrow) from the air filter housing once the filter is removed. Leaves and dirt can gather inside the housing and possibly plug the air filter. Install the new air filter; be sure it is properly seated. Then install housing lid and clip it in place.