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How to Change the Air Filter in a BMW X3

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Johnny is a longtime online writer and car enthusiast. As a BMW owner, he has years of experience fixing problems with their engines.

The location of the air filter box on a 2006 X3.

The location of the air filter box on a 2006 X3.

This a detailed guide on how to change your engine air filter in a BMW X3. The car in the photos is a 2006 model but the process is the same for any year, and for that matter, just about any late-model BMW crossover or car. Only the accessibility of the air box under the hood, the filter type, and the clip locations will vary.

This job should only take about 10-20 minutes and does not require any tools. Ordering your filter online (links below) and replacing it yourself will save you money and keep your engine breathing nice clean air.

How to Change the Air Filter in a BMW X3

  1. Unclip each of the clips holding the top to the bottom of the airbox.
  2. Lift up on one side the air box top to separate the halves.
  3. Use a rag or a vacuum to wipe out the dirt in the bottom half of the air box.
  4. Install the new clean filter back into the air box.
  5. Re-attach each of the clips all the way around the air box.

This really should go without saying, but just in case: never do this with the car running.

1. Unclip each of the clips holding the top to the bottom of the airbox.

Working around the sides of the air box, unclip each of the clips holding the top to the bottom of the airbox.

There are 5 clips holding the top of the airbox down as indicated by the red arrows.

There are 5 clips holding the top of the airbox down as indicated by the red arrows.

2. Lift up on one side the air box top to separate the halves.

With the clips loose, you can then lift up on one side the air box top to separate the halves. You can then access the air filter. Lift it up and slide it out. Note that air flow comes in the bottom of the box, through the filter and out the top and into the engine. Thus below the filter is the dirty side and the top is the clean side.

Unclip each of the clips holding the box together.

Unclip each of the clips holding the box together.

With the clips unlatched, lift the corner of the airbox to reveal the air filter.  You can lift the filter up and slide it out.

With the clips unlatched, lift the corner of the airbox to reveal the air filter. You can lift the filter up and slide it out.

The removed filter sitting on top of the air box.

The removed filter sitting on top of the air box.

The bottom dirty side of the filter.  This filter is about 8 months old and not quite ready to be changed.  It's a bit dirty but not too bad.

The bottom dirty side of the filter. This filter is about 8 months old and not quite ready to be changed. It's a bit dirty but not too bad.

3. Use a rag or a vacuum to wipe out the dirt in the bottom half of the air box.

Use a rag or a vacuum to wipe out the dirt in the bottom half of the air box. The top half of the air box should be clean since only filtered air reaches it, but if you see any dust there at all go ahead and clean it out.

Looking inside the air box with the filter removed.  You can see the accumulated dirt.  It's a good idea to take a rag and wipe out the inside of the air box so that your new filter doesn't have to eat that dirt.

Looking inside the air box with the filter removed. You can see the accumulated dirt. It's a good idea to take a rag and wipe out the inside of the air box so that your new filter doesn't have to eat that dirt.

Wiping out the dirt in the air box before re-installing a new filter.

Wiping out the dirt in the air box before re-installing a new filter.

Look at all this dirt that was in the bottom of the air box.  Once cleaned out, install the new air filter back into the air box and latch each of the clips back again to close.

Look at all this dirt that was in the bottom of the air box. Once cleaned out, install the new air filter back into the air box and latch each of the clips back again to close.

4. Install the new clean filter back into the air box.

Install the new clean filter back into the air box. Make sure the soft foam seal is at the top and the longer paper part of the filter is down. The foam seal should seat easily into the bottom half of the airbox. Close the top half of the box making sure the seal all the way around is seated properly and not being pinched or crimped anywhere.

5) Re-attach each of the clips all the way around the air box so it once again forms a nice airtight seal between the top and bottom halves.

Grab yourself a beer and toast a job well done and feel good knowing your car is now breathing freely again with good clean air.

5. Re-attach each of the clips all the way around the air box.

Re-attach each of the clips all the way around the air box so it once again forms a nice airtight seal between the top and bottom halves.

Grab yourself a beer and toast a job well done and feel good knowing your car is now breathing freely again with good clean air.

How Often To Change Your Air Filter

This depends on your driving conditions but it's usually recommended to change the filter every 30,000 miles. If you drive off road or in dusty conditions you may want to check your filter more often. I replaced mine 8 months ago (about 10,000 miles) and I'm pretty surprised at how dirty it is already. Given how relatively cheap it is to replace I probably will be changing mine every 20,000 miles or so.

Air Filters and Ordering Online

It's easy and cheap to order new air filters online and I order mine from Amazon. They provide a nice fitment tool so that you can enter the year and model of your car to make sure you get the filter that fits your car. Note that there is a difference between the filter for 2004-2006 and 2007-2010 models.

Here are some links to some good OEM German air filters.

2004-2006 X3 Air Filters

2007-2010 X3 Air Filters

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

Michel on April 21, 2013:

And How about changing all interior bulbs in a BMW X3 ? ? ?

Thks in advance.

Michel on April 21, 2013:

Great explanation ; many thanks indeed.

All the best - Michel