We all know the importance of changing out your Jeep Wrangler JK's oil and oil filter, right? Nod your head yes because even if you don't, you are going to go here and make sure you start getting it done on a regular basis.
Your air filter, though, isn't as critical, but ignoring it for too long could cause some issues with fuel economy and overall engine performance thanks to road dust, dirt and other issues. Plus, if you've bought a used Jeep, there is no telling when, or if, the thing has ever been changed out.
So taking a peek inside that air box is definitely a good idea. And the best part, you can check (and change) that filter right from your driveway without having to take the Wrangler anywhere and pay someone else. You just need a 10mm socket wrench and a flashlight to get the job done.
Now, Jeep recommends you swap the air filter every 30,000 miles which is a safe average, but one that should be altered depending on what type of driving conditions you encounter on a day to day basis. For those in dustier areas, you may want to check it earlier and see how much dirt has accumulated on the filter. To check, just hold the filter up to the sun or to a strong light. Is there any light streaming through? If not, try dropping it lightly, bottom side down, on a hard surface. If the air filter is still too dirty to see through after you've dropped it a few times, then it is time for a replacement.
Here is how to open the air box and - if needed - replace the filter:
First, undo both hood catches and prop up that hood.
Next, locate the factory air box on the lower left side of the engine bay and identify the four clips around the air box holding it in place. Undo each clip. Don't worry, those clips are not going anywhere.
Once the clips are detached, take the 10mm socket wrench and undo the two bolts to the right of the air box.
With the bolts out, and clips undone, you can now lift up on the air box to reveal the filter.
Pull out the filter and inspect. If it looks fairly decent or like the picture below, then you are fine for now. If not, go through those above steps to judge if it needs replacement.
If you've determined your current air filter is past its prime, there are many options.
A direct factory replacement like the Mopar Air Filter, or an aftermarket version from Crown Automotive are great for those who want a straight swap out. These filters exactly match what Jeep first put into the air box when that Wrangler JK rolled off the lot, so you know what type of performance to expect.
For those looking to up their air filter game, and to get a bit more performance, high-flow filters that trap debris while allowing more airflow are the perfect upgrade. You have aFe with their Pro Dry S and Magnum Flow filters, as well as AEM and their DryFlow filter. Airaid has two drop in units, a Replacement Oiled Filter and Synthamax Dry Filter, with both designed for the '12-'18 JK vehicles, while Rugged Ridge has a Synthetic Panel Air Filter and K&N retails their Replacement Air Filter.
These higher performance filters also just drop into the air box without any modifications, but are designed to be reusable and can either be cleaned by washing off, or utilizing a re-oil kit to refresh the filter before replacement.
When you have your new filter ready to go, remember the tapered end always points to the driver side when installing and the deeper pleats face down. After you get the new filter correctly in place, close up the air box and replace the two bolts - then make sure you re-engage all four air box clips before shutting the hood.
That's it - you're all set. Just make a note on mileage so you will have a rough idea when to take another look at the air filter down the road.