7 Symptoms of a Bad / Dirty Air Filter in Your Car

We all know that car engines need fuel to generate power. But what they also need is good clean air as well. Without a balanced mixture of gasoline and air, there would be no combustion power generated in the engine. A fuel filter is used to keep the fuel clean before it enters the engine. Likewise, an air filter is used to keep the air clean before it enters the engine too.

Think about all the contaminants in the air that come into your vehicle. There is carbon, bugs, dirt, debris particles, and so much more. If any of these things were to enter your engine, they would have a severe impact on its functionality and performance. An air filter is designed to block all these contaminants so that only clean air can pass through into the engine.

7 Bad Symptoms

Air filters can only stay good for so long. The more bad air they need to filter, the dirtier they are going to get. If an air filter were to get too dirty, it would become clogged and unable to let air pass through it. The filter could also get damaged, causing dirty air to pass through. Either way, your car’s performance will be what suffers because of it.

Fortunately, there are some easily recognizable symptoms of a bad air filter that you can look for. If you notice any of them, take your vehicle to the nearest auto shop and have them replace your air filter right away. Of course, if you know how to do it yourself, then go for it. This will save you some money.

Below are the top 7 symptoms of a bad air filter.

1) Engine Misfire – When a dirty or worn out air filter limits the amount of air entering the engine, the cylinders may be left with an abundance of fuel that does not get burned. When the unburned fuel tries to leave the cylinders, it will turn into soot. If the soot gets onto the spark plugs, that will mess up the ignition of the air and fuel mixture. This will create an engine misfire.

2) Lower Fuel Economy – If you have a clogged or worn out air filter, the engine cylinders will receive less air. When this happens, the missing air in the cylinders will be supplemented with more fuel instead. In other words, your engine will be burning more fuel than normal to sustain the same amount of power. This will lower your fuel economy tremendously.

3) Check Engine Light – The Check Engine warning light will come on whenever an imbalance of air and fuel is detected in the internal combustion chamber. So, if there is less air and more fuel in the cylinders, the engine control unit will surely activate this warning light once that is detected.

Read also: 7 Symptoms of a Bad / Clogged Fuel Filter in Your Car

4) Strange Engine Noises – If your air filters are clogged with debris, resulting in your spark plugs being covered in soot, then your engine will make various popping or coughing noises. There may even be vibrations felt within the vehicle too.

5) Dark Air Filter – The number one way to verify that you have a bad air filter is to simply inspect it yourself. Good air filters are very white or at least mildly white. If your air filter is dark brown or black, then it is too dirty and needs to be replaced.

6) Weak Horsepower – If you step on the gas pedal to accelerate but the vehicle fails to pick up adequate speed, then it could mean that your engine is not getting enough air to generate this power.

7) Black Smoke – When the unburned fuel in your engine tries to leave your vehicle through the exhaust pipe, it will start to heat up inside of the exhaust system. This will cause black smoke to flow out of your exhaust pipe along with the fuel.

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