enter image description hereMy air filter housing was quite dirty. I'm referring to the part in the pic which I believe is referred to as the air filter housing.

I was trying to clean it out, it was quite windy and I noticed some dirt(dust and maybe small particles of other dirt) flow into the air intake hole.

1) Would a little bit of dirt cause any noticeable damage to the engine?

2) Why does one need to clean this housing? It seems to me the filter will block/trap any dirt going u and you can remove it by hand if need be, that's even if the dirt goes onto the filter to begin with. Basically can I just not clean the housing since it seems unnecessary and when vacuuming the dirt might flow into the intake hole which would be worse.

3) If you guys do still vacuum how do you go about covering the hole, do you really go to the trouble of sealing it up as I recall reading somewhere.

1 Answer 1


The reason your car has an air filter is because a little bit of dirt can cause engine damage. Dirt will abrade valves and other mechanical parts before getting caught by the oil filter. A little bit occasionally isn't going to do much, however if you saw dust going into the intake you should vacuum it out before you start the car.

Cleaning the housing is done to make sure dust doesn't get into the air intake while you're changing the filter. The idea is you clean the outside first before you take the cover off, then if there's a load of dust under the cover clean the edges of the filter and housing before you carefully lift the filter off. If the filter has a good seal and is doing its job the housing past the filter should be dust free. If it is dusty in there then your air filter either isn't seating properly or it isn't filtering right.

I don't cover the intake past the filter unless I'm going to leave the filter and cover off for awhile for some reason.

  • good common sense answer. plus one from me.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 7:48
  • Gdd are we talking about the same thing? I have added a picture. I think you were answering about outside the cover and its inside(which should be dust free). I was asking about cleaning the inside of the housing in front of the filter which you cannot get to unless you remove the filter to begin with. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 9:38
  • We are talking about the same thing @JamesWilson. The front of the filter is before the air is filtered, the back is after the air is filtered, and my answer addresses both.
    – GdD
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 9:40

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