Signs of a Dirty or Clogged Air Filter

You have likely heard people refer to a vehicle’s engine as its heart. If the engine is the heart, the air intake is the lungs. However, you need an air filter to get the clean oxygen that invigorates the engine.

Dirty air filters are to a car like cigarettes are to an athlete’s lungs — they diminish performance. Learning how to clean K&N air filter is not enough; vehicle owners must also learn when cleaning is necessary. Discover five signs of a dirty or clogged air filter to protect your vehicle.

1. Unusual Engine Sounds

An engine should purr when in park. The sound should be balanced and even, representing good oxygen flow. If your engine makes strange noises, like hiccups or excessive vibrations, it could mean you’re facing a bad air filter.

A dirty air filter can also cause problems with the spark plugs, polluting the units. For that reason, many professionals suggest checking your spark plugs when cleaning your filter.

2. Reduced Engine Performance

An air filter car can affect the engine performance. A clean filter allows oxygen to flow freely through the system, but a clogged or dirty filter deprives the system of oxygen. The restricted oxygen can cause a reduction in horsepower or may cause the car to jerk when accelerating.

Horsepower is dependent on engine function. When the engine struggles to get the oxygen it needs, it dumps more fuel into the system, causing reduced gas mileage and decreased horsepower.

3. Engine Misfires

A dirty or clogged air filter can also cause a vehicle to misfire. You may notice this when your car struggles to turn over. Dirty filters cause a reduction in oxygen and an increase in fuel use, which can cause a flooded engine and spark plug pollution.

Because vehicles with dirty filters use more fuel, the fuel may not burn off all the way, seeping through to other parts of the system. The excess fuel can end up in the exhaust system and cause black smoke or even flames to shoot out.

4. Check Engine Light Comes On

While many people curse the check engine light because it seems to come on at all the most inconvenient times, it is a warning that something is awry with your engine. A dirty filter is one possible reason the light illuminates. Because the filter is not performing well and impurities are entering the system, the system triggers the light.

You can take your vehicle to an auto parts store to get a reading for your dashboard light. The reading should help you and the technician understand more about what is happening with your vehicle.

Your vehicle’s air filter needs regular maintenance or replacement, depending on the type of filter. You can use AutoZones Vin decoder to help you locate appropriate parts for your car, including filters. If your vehicle shows signs of a dirty or clogged filter, clean or replace it before the damage becomes extensive. Contact a local auto parts store to learn more.

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