Jeep 4WD How-to: Replacing
a Clogged Air Filter Along the Trail!
A common Jeep 4WD
maintenance question is when to change the engine air filter. On-highway, under optimal conditions, an air
filter element can last for thousands of miles. By contrast, mere hours of alkaline dirt road exposure
will clog an air filter to the point of air starvation!
For backcountry travel, carrying a spare air filter element is always
wise. You can quickly change a modern Jeep air filter element—even alongside the trail—using minimal
Note: Always carry extra Mopar air cleaner elements
when traveling overland for days on end. Keep your Jeep engine breathing a fresh and ample air
1. Locate the air box. On this XJ Cherokee,
the box is at the driver's side, just behind the radiator filler neck. Identify the air box on your Jeep model.
Brush or vacuum off dust and debris before loosening the lid.
2. Three spring clips hold down the upper air box cover on this XJ Cherokee. Clips can be
loosened easily with a screwdriver. Do not bend or distort the clips or plastic lid in the
3. Make sure clips are clear of the lid. Brush off remaining dust from the cover before
lifting the lid. Typically, the lid hooks onto tabs. For this application, tabs are on the long side of the
air box, opposite the clips.
4. On many Jeep engines, it is practical to loosen the air intake hose before lifting the air
box lid. Brush away dirt before loosening this hose. A screwdriver will release the clamp tab at
its teeth. Lift gently—this is plastic and can become brittle over time.
5. The hose clamp and hoses are now loose. On the XJ Cherokee, loosening the crankcase
breather hose allows removal of the air box lid. With the hoses out of the way and lid clips loose, you can pivot
the lid upward and slide it off the locating tabs.
6. The top of this generic air filter appears clean. This is the engine supply side. It's
the bottom side of
this filter that catches dirt and debris. You must lift the filter out of the air box for inspection. The
filter seals at the box and lid edges.
7. The inlet side of the filter is exposed to trail dust, debris and grit. Clean the
box out with a shop vacuum. This area of the air box is accessible once the filter element has
8. Conveniently, the new Mopar air filter
element has a protective wrapper. This is helpful when carrying a spare filter in your Jeep 4x4. The filter remains
clean even in stowage over dusty trails.
9. The new Mopar air filter element fits securely at the lip of the air box. The
seal between the upper lid and lower air box is critical. The lid must fit squarely, snugly gripping the entire edge of the
10. The Mopar filter has
a mesh screen above the pleated paper element. This screen prevents the engine's induction draw from pulling
the filter material apart. Filter fit is excellent—one more reason
why Mopar filters and service parts
are our choice!
11. Carefully install the lid
on the tabs. Fold the lid onto the air filter seal. Make sure the filter remains squarely against the air
box ledge. The filter must hold its shape and seal thoroughly around the entire air box and
12. Once the lid's clips have
been snapped into place, reposition the hoses. Align the hoses in their original positions, making sure they will
seal snugly once the clamp is tightened. Hose and filter seal is crucial for engine
13. With hose in original
position and seated properly, the clamp can be secured. Make sure the clamp seats properly, making full
contact in its groove. To assure a quality seal, this curved-end pliers squeezes the clamp's tabs
Caution: Do not over-tighten the clamp. It is plastic and can break! Make sure the hose seals snugly
against the lid duct. Dust must not enter the airstream here.
14. The lid is now seated
properly, sealing around the Mopar filter element. Clips secure, hoses in place and clamped, this air filter
change is complete!
See other service related 'how-to' articles in the "Routine Service & Preventive
Maintenance" section of the magazine!