Step-by-Step Guide: How to Change the Air Filter in a Subaru Forester

As a Subaru Forester car owner, it’s important to understand the significance of regular car maintenance and how it can extend the life of your vehicle. One crucial aspect of car maintenance that often gets overlooked is changing the air filter. A dirty air filter can negatively impact your car’s performance and even result in costly repairs. In this article, we’ll take you through the process of changing your air filter, step-by-step.

Why is Changing Your Air Filter Important?

The purpose of an air filter is to prevent debris, dirt, and other particles from entering your car’s engine. If your air filter is dirty, it can’t perform its function correctly and can cause serious issues. A dirty air filter can lead to reduced fuel efficiency, decreased horsepower, and engine damage over time. These issues can result in costly repairs; thus, changing your air filter is a crucial step in maintaining your car’s overall performance.

Signs of a Dirty Air Filter

Before diving into the process of changing your air filter, it’s essential to know the symptoms of a dirty air filter. The following signs indicate that it’s time to replace your air filter:

  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Reduced horsepower
  • Lit engine warning light
  • Unusual engine sounds
  • Strong fuel smell

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to replace your air filter.

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Tools Needed

Now that you know how crucial changing your air filter is, let’s go over the tools you need to get the job done:

  • New air filter (make sure it matches your Subaru Forester’s make and model)
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Gloves (optional)

Steps to Change the Air Filter in a Subaru Forester

Step 1: Locate the Air Filter Box

The air filter box is typically located under the hood of your Subaru Forester. Look for a black plastic rectangular container attached to the engine compartment.

Step 2: Remove the Air Filter Box Cover

Use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the screws that attach the cover to the air filter box.

Step 3: Remove the Old Air Filter

Once the cover is removed, you should be able to see the air filter. Gently pull it out of the box. Check the air filter for debris buildup or dirt accumulation. If it’s dirty, it’s time to replace it.

Step 4: Install the New Air Filter

Insert your new air filter into the box in the same position and orientation as the old one. Ensure the filter is seated firmly in its slot.

Step 5: Reattach the Air Filter Box Cover

After inserting the new filter, reattach the air filter box cover by securing the screws back in place.

Step 6: Test Your New Air Filter

Close the hood of your Subaru Forester and start the car. Check for any unusual sounds or smells. After a few minutes, recheck the air filter to make sure it’s set correctly.

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Common Mistakes and Tips to Avoid Them

When changing your air filter, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Not replacing your air filter regularly
  • Installing the air filter backward
  • Not securing the screws tightly on the air filter box cover

To avoid these mistakes, ensure you change your air filter regularly, check and double-check the orientation of the filter, and secure the screws tightly.


  1. How often should I change my air filter?
    It’s recommended to change your air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on your driving conditions.

  2. Can I clean the old air filter instead of buying a new one?
    While it’s possible to clean your old air filter instead of buying a new one, it’s not recommended as cleaning might not remove all buildup, which can negatively impact your car’s performance.


Changing your air filter is a vital component of Subaru Forester car maintenance. It helps to ensure your car runs efficiently and extends the life of your engine. With these easy to follow steps, you can change your air filter yourself, ensuring you save time and money on costly repairs in the future. Keep your Subaru Forester running smoothly and efficiently by replacing your air filter regularly.

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Billy Covington

With a passion for all things automotive, Billy is our go-to expert on Subaru performance upgrades and modifications. He's been featured in several car magazines and blogs, and his extensive knowledge and expertise make him a valuable member of our team. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys playing guitar and writing music.

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