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Kia Optima Engine Air Filter Replacement Guide
How to clean or change the engine air filter for the Theta II 2.4L GDI I4 in a 4th generation 2016 to 2020 Kia Optima.

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Paul B. Michaels
Author & Photographer
Auto Mechanic Since 1989

2019 Optima 2.4L I4
Engine Air Filter Housing
Pull Open Flap - Left
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the 4th generation (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 model years) Kia Optima sedan in cleaning or changing the engine air filter element for the Theta II 2.4 liter GDI inline four cylinder motor. (The procedure should be the same or very similar for the Theta II 2.0L Turbo I4 engine.)

Owners of other Kia, Hyundai or Genesis vehicles such as the Niro, Sportage, Sedona, Telluride, Sorento, Rio, Forte, Soul, K900, Cadenza, K5, Stinger, Tucson, Santa Fe, Kona, Palisade, Elantra, Sonata, Accent, Veloster, Ioniq, Nexo, Venue, G70, G80 and G90 may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

A few compatible replacement replacement air filters for the Theta II 2.4L GDI I4 engine with their part numbers include the following: Spearhead MT-942, Premium Guard PA99072, EcoGard XA10426, Fram CA11942, K&N 33-5026 and Wix WA10127.

No tools are needed to access and replace the old filter.

The first two steps are to open the hood and then move to the right rear area of the engine bay.

The rectangular shaped black plastic engine air filter housing is situated behind the 12V battery, to the left of the fuse box and in front of the brake fluid reservoir near the cowl in front of the windshield on the driver's side of the vehicle.


Release Fastener - Right
Filter Access Cover Open
Swing Down Lock Tab
Gently pull open the bottom edge of the access flap to release the two friction fasteners.

Swing up the access cover to view the outer edge of the filter tray.

Push down the lock tab on the left side to release it.

Release Right Side Lock
Old Filter Unlocked
Slide Out Old Filter
Then swing down the release tab on the right side of the filter tray.

Grasp the small handle in the center of the filter tray before pulling it straight out of the slot.

Old Filter Removed
After 30K Miles
Inspect Both Sides
Inspect both sides of the old filter.

If the old filter is dark grey or black and clogged with dirt, dust, pollen, soot, leaves, insects, hair, twigs, sand and other debris, it should be replaced with a new element.

I recommend buying the Spearhead MT-942 engine air filter since it has excellent reviews on Amazon from other Kia owners.

If you would prefer to have a more environmentally friendly option, choose the K&N 33-5026 engine air filter which can washed and re-used many times up to 100,000 miles or 10 years.

Clean With Vacuum
Empty Filter Slot
Slide In New Air Filter
If the old filter is relatively clean, just tap out the large debris and remove any fine dust with a vacuum cleaner.

Check the filter slot in the air box for any large debris.

If necessary, clean out the slot with the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

Orientate the new air filter with the two grey plastic locking tabs facing out towards and their ends facing down towards the floor as shown in the picture above.

New Filter Inserted
Swing Up Left Lock Tab
Swing Up Right Lock Tab
Slide the new filter into the slot.

Make the sure the filter is fully seated.

Swing the two grey plastic lock tabs up towards the top of the air box to secure the filter in place.

Lower Access Cover
Push To Secure Fasteners
Engine Air Filter Replaced

Swing the access flap down over the new filter.

Firmly push on the flap to secure the two friction fasteners.

Double check that the access cover is securely attached.

Be sure to write down the filter change in your vehicle's service records.

The service interval specification in the owner's manual for changing the engine air filter is every 30,000 miles (48K KM) or at least every two years.

Please check out all of my 2016-2020 Kia Optima DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

If you found this guide to be helpful, please consider making a small donation by clicking on the "Donate" button located to the right of this paragraph. Thank you!
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