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What Is An Engine Air Filter And Why Is It Important?

If you open your VW's cold air intake box, you'll see an engine air filter. It's a tightly pleated paper filter with a plastic frame. It may seem like a simple part, but it's very important to your engine's health.

Why Your VW Has An Engine Air Filter

Image Credit: BrianSchoedel

An engine air filter protects your engine from harmful elements like dust, dirt, and debris (leaves, for example).

When the engine is running, it sucks in air. Engines need air to achieve the right air/fuel mixture so it combusts thoroughly. As the engine sucks in air, the air has to go through the engine air filter first. It's because the filter is set up to trap all the harmful elements in the air. The air outside your VW is full of tiny particles that can affect your engine's health. For example:

  • The dirt and particles can grind between the pistons and cylinder walls. This can cause your engine to wear prematurely.
  • The dirt and particles can contaminate your vehicle’s mass air flow sensor. When this happens, the sensor will no longer send the correct information. This may result in your engine running poorly.

Those issues cause engine problems, such as:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Poor engine performance
  • Engine failure (eventually)

Without a functioning engine air filter, you're just asking for trouble.

Why You Need To Replace Your Engine Air Filter Every 12K-15K Miles

Like any air filter (such as the cabin air filter), the engine air filter gets too dirty over time. The contaminants it removes from the air builds up on the filter material. Soon enough, the pores will be too clogged up to let any more air through. A general rule of thumb is to replace it every 12,000-15,000 miles. Sometimes you would need to replace it sooner. For example, your engine air filter will clog up faster if you drive on dirt roads often.

The purpose of an engine air filter replacement is to ensure that your engine keeps getting the right amount of clean air it needs. If you neglect to replace your VW’s engine air filter when it gets too dirty, your engine gets deprived of air. A clogged filter can no longer let enough air in. When that happens, you'll experience some engine problems, such as:

  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Sluggish acceleration
  • Reduced torque
  • Overheated engine

These issues can also serve as symptoms of a clogged air filter. If you notice any of these symptoms, take a few minutes to check your air filter.

Where To Find OEM VW Air Filters Online

OEM vw engine air filter

When it's time to replace your engine air filter, buy a replacement filter online from an authorized retailer of genuine OEM VW parts. This will save you a lot of money as opposed to buying at a Volkswagen dealership.

When buying anything on the internet, you should always make sure that you are buying from a reputable website. This is the best way to ensure that you are getting a genuine OEM product. At, we're an authorized retailer of OEM Volkswagen parts. We offer rock bottom prices on genuine OEM VW air filters. For example, this air filter for certain 2007-2020 VW models is about 30% cheaper than the exact same filter at a VW dealership.

Please contact us if you need help finding the right air filter for your engine.