Replacing My Car’s Air Filters

This is my third post on the blog within a week. I guess I feel like writing more here these days despite the fact that I should probably be spending the time to do research, do homework, do something with my social life or even sleep. Anyways, here is another mundane post of me doing some simple task, and this time it’s replacing my car’s air filters.

One of the old filters
One of the old filters. You can see how dirty it is.

I haven’t replaced the air filters on my 2006 Mercedes ML-350 since I bought the car last year, and I didn’t know when or if the previous owner had them replaced. A couple of weeks ago, I opened up the hood to check the air filters out of curiosity. I found the filters to be quite dirty and decided to replace them. Last year when I visited the dealer, they said that they charge $100 to replace the filters. I did an online search and found the compatible filters, the Mann-Filter C 3698-2 Air Filter, for sale for around $30 including shipping. I’m no car mechanic, but replacing the filters is a relatively simple task so I might as well do it myself and save $70.

I had to wait more than a week for my order to arrive, but the filters eventually got to my place. Replacing the filters on a 2006 Mercedes ML-350 is pretty simple in principle: just remove the front plastic cover on the engine, disconnect the three air hoses (2 big, 1 small) and the pull out the air intake assembly. The plastic air intake assembly holds a pair of air filters in two boxes, and each box is held by four T-25 Torx screws.

ML-350 Air Intake Assembly
The ML-350's air intake assembly. The pair of filters are held in the boxes on sides.
The box of new filters
The box for the Mann-Filter C 3698-2 Air Filters
Old filter inside the air intake assembly
The old filter sitting inside one of the boxes of the air intake assembly.
Old filter (right) vs. new filter (left)
Old filter (right) vs. new filter (left). The old filter is clearly much dirtier.
Before and After
The engine bay before and after the job.

Opening the boxes and replacing the filters was a pretty straight forward task. The replacements I bought were exactly the same model as the old ones, and they fit snugly into the assembly. As you can see from my photos, the old filters were quite dirty and probably haven’t been replaced for a while. Putting the air intake assembly back on top of the engine also should be a simple task, but like in many occasions putting something back together is a little harder than taking the same thing apart. I had trouble lining up the assembly with the air intake of the engine and it took me many tries to finally push the assembly into the right position. Without the troubles, I probably would have finished the whole job within 15 minutes; I ended up taking closer to half an hour thanks to the wrangling I had to do to put the air intake assembly back properly.

As a car owner, I’m going to have to do these small maintenance tasks every so often to keep the car in good shape. Next time I replace something else I’ll probably write another post here.

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