When to change car air filter? Signs of a bad car air filter

When to change car air filter? The engine air filter in your car keeps contaminants out while providing the air it needs to run. Keeping this filter clean gives you optimal engine health, performance, and efficiency. A filter clogged with excessive dirt and debris will sap acceleration and worsen fuel economy.

What Is a Car Air Filter?

A car air filter prevents dirt, debris, and other pollutants from entering the engine. As you drive in heavy traffic, over gravel, and other daily driving, all the air containing pollution and dirt is pulled into the vehicle. Luckily, the filter only allows clean air to make its way to the engine before combustion, improving fuel economy and performance.

When to change car air filter

Like most air filters, it traps all the particles mentioned above, which will cause the filter to turn from white to a much dirtier appearance over time.

When To Change Car Air Filter?

Different car manufacturers offer different recommendations on how often you should change your car’s air filter. Still, there’s a consensus that a disposable filter is good for 15,000 to 30,000 miles, depending on driving conditions.

If you drive in particularly harsh conditions (e.g., heavy traffic in hot weather, unpaved roads, or frequent off-roading), change your filter more often, or about 15,000 miles between replacements. Remember to keep track of all service records to help clarify when your air filter was last replaced.

Some shops might try to talk you into getting a new air filter with every oil change, but that’s far too often. It might not seem like a big deal since air filters are usually pretty cheap, and replacing them isn’t a big job, but a polite “no thanks” can help you avoid getting a new one when it’s unnecessary.

Can I Replace the Car Air Filter Myself?

Yes. This is one car maintenance job that is easy enough to do in your garage. Most engine air filters are straightforward to access under the hood or in the glove compartment inside the vehicle. If you’re unsure where it is, consult the owner’s manual to clarify where and how to replace it.

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If you’re having difficulty finding the information you need in the manual, check for it online. A quick search using your car’s year, make, and model should give you the answers you need. Reviewing the manual or consulting the web will also tell you the part number for the filter to use in your engine.

Start by opening the air box by removing a few screws with a screwdriver (or sometimes with no tools). When the airbox opens, you’ll see either a flat, rectangular filter or a round, cone-shaped filter.

A flat filter can usually be removed by hand, and a cone-shaped filter will usually be secured with a hose clamp that can be loosened and tightened with a screwdriver. Simply take out the old one, put in the new one, close the airbox back up, and it will be good for the next 30,000 or so miles.

It doesn’t hurt to do a quick visual inspection of the air filter you’re currently using if you’re not sure how long it’s been since you’ve replaced it. You don’t have to be a mechanic to spot an air filter that needs replacing.

If it looks filthy and worn out and you don’t know how many miles are on it, it’s better to be safe than sorry and replace it, especially since it’s a low-cost maintenance item, and replacing it early doesn’t hurt anything.

Signs of a Bad Car Air Filter

While it may be hard to tell when to replace your engine air filter since you don’t see it daily, there are a few warning signs that it may be time. While you can always take a look at it, most of the signs you’ll be able to notice just by paying attention to your vehicle.

When to change car air filter

Your air filter looks dirty

If you know where your air filter is located (you can consult your owner’s manual to find out where to look), you can do a visual inspection. If your air filter is clean, it should be white or off-white. Over time, as dust and dirt accumulate on it, the air filter will get darker and the dirt will be noticeable. When it starts looking dark and grimy, you might be due for a replacement.

Your car seems to have less power

A clean air filter will help your engine perform better; on newer cars, it can increase acceleration by as much as 11%, and on older cars it can improve mileage by as much as 14%. Other signs that your air filter is affecting your car’s performance is a jerking movement when you accelerate — or by not responding as well as it should.

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Your check engine light comes on

There are many different reasons that your check engine light comes on; it can be as simple as a loose gas cap or it can signal a bigger problem. One of those reasons can be that the engine isn’t getting enough air, so carbon deposits form in the engine and that triggers the light on your dashboard.

When you take your car in to your mechanic, they’ll be able to do a quick scan to see what’s causing the problem and can tell you if it’s an air filter issue.

Your car starts making strange sounds

Without enough air, your car’s engine isn’t going to sound like it should. If it’s coughing and sputtering, or if it vibrates excessively when you turn over the engine, there’s a good chance it’s begging for a new air filter.

If you notice strange sounds specifically when your car is idling, you may have what’s known as “rough idle.” Read our topic on this to learn what causes rough idle and possible fixes.

Smoke or flames shoot out of your exhaust when you start the car

One good indication that the air filter needs replaced is the presence of black smoke coming from your exhaust pipe(s) when you fire up the engine. You also might hear a popping sound or see a flame at the end of the exhaust pipe. This can happen when there’s not an adequate supply of air in the engine.

Not all of the fuel will burn properly in the combustion cycle and it will leave the car through the exhaust. The flame occurs when the heat of the exhaust ignites the fuel in the tailpipe. If you’re noticing this happening in your vehicle, you should take it to your mechanic immediately, as it can create an unsafe situation.

Benefits Of Replacing Your Car Air Filters

An air filter might not seem an important component to regularly check and change, but they are essential in maintaining your car’s performance. The filter prevents small particles from entering the engine and causing potentially expensive damage.

Increased fuel efficiency

Replacing a clogged air filter can increase fuel efficiency and improve acceleration, depending on your car make and model. When you realise that, it makes sense to regularly replace your air filters.

How can an air filter make so much difference? A dirty or damaged air filter limits the amount of air flowing into your car’s engine, making it work harder and, therefore, using more fuel. As your engine needs more than 10,000 litres of oxygen to burn every litre of fuel, it’s important not to restrict this air flow.

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Reduced emissions

Dirty or damaged air filters reduce the air flow to the engine, changing your car’s air-fuel balance. This imbalance can pollute spark plugs, causing the engine to miss or rough idle; increase engine depositions; and cause the ‘Service Engine’ light to turn on.

More importantly, the imbalance also has a direct impact on your car’s exhaust emissions, contributing to the pollution of your surrounding environment.

Prolongs engine life

A particle as small as a grain of salt can get through a damaged air filter and do a lot of damage to internal engine parts, such as cylinders and pistons, which can be very expensive to repair. That’s why regularly replacing your air filter is so important.

A clean air filter is designed to capture dirt and debris from the outside air, preventing them from reaching the combustion chamber and reducing the likelihood of you receiving a large repair bill.

How Often To Replace The Cabin Air Filter In Your Car?

Like vehicle air filters, cabin air filters should also be changed regularly as part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance. Most manufacturers recommend scheduled intervals between 15,000 to as high as 45,000 miles. To simplify things, consider changing both of your car’s filters at the same time.

When to change car air filter

The good news is that replacing the cabin air filter in your car is even easier and cheaper than changing the engine air filter. It’s something anyone can do in less than five minutes with few or no tools required. New cabin air filters are readily available on Amazon and at most typical automotive retailers, typically for less than $20.

Why Is Changing An Engine Air Filter Important?

While changing the engine air filter is one of the easier pieces of maintenance a car owner can do, an air filter is an important part of your car’s engine. It keeps contaminants, big and small, out of the engine to ensure it has clean air to keep it running.

There’s a small chance that a dirty air filter will allow dirt and small pieces of debris to get into your engine. A dirty air filter will also sap performance and reduce fuel economy.

Regularly changing your car’s air filter will prolong the life of the engine, reduce emissions, improve fuel economy, and, depending on what kind of filter you use, could even bring some extra performance. The benefits far outweigh the small amount of time and effort it takes to complete the job.


How long does it take to replace a car’s air filter?

Replacing a car’s engine air filter takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

How much does an engine air filter cost?

A standard air filter usually costs between $10 and $40.

What happens if I don’t replace my car’s air filter?

If you don’t replace the air filter, you can experience reduced gas milage and ignition problems.

Above is information about When to change car air filter? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of Signs of a bad car air filter. Thank you for reading our post.

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