An air filter is one of the most critical parts of a vehicle. It prevents dirt, bugs, and other particles from entering the engine. Also, it ensures that the occupants of the vehicle remain safe through their time driving. Over time, it may accumulate dust particles that clog the filter and deteriorate the vehicle’s performance.

Here are some of the common signs that will help you identify a bad air filter:

The Filter Appears Dirty


The air filter changing from a white to a brown or black color is due to air contaminants continuously getting into the filter. When the filter looks covered with dirt, dust, and debris, it is time to replace it.

Check the Status of Engine Light


Your Check Engine Light (CEL) can turn on if your vehicle’s air filter becomes overloaded with pollutants. Make sure to take your car in for service if this occurs. A skilled auto mechanic will check your air filter and will be able to determine if the Check Engine Light came on due to a bad air filter. Then, from there you’ll have a better plan of attack on how to get your vehicle up to running at optimal efficiency.

If you cannot fully repair the vehicle’s issues, prioritize those that threaten your driving ability. It’s immensely important to take these into account and not only have them ready to go when you get to the mechanic, but also be prepared to seek out second opinions. Your vehicle’s long term ability to function at a high level will be directly tied to how you handle maintenance. If you do not consistently maintain your vehicle, you will see small issues become more major. These can raise the price and cost of replacement tenfold, as repairs will sometimes be too far gone to be possible. Fuel efficiency is a great example of this.

Poor Fuel Efficiency


When the air filter of your car is blocked, the engine fails to achieve an adequate air/fuel mixture since it does not get enough oxygen to maintain its horsepower. In certain cases, to balance the lower levels of oxygen, the engine will consume more fuel to maintain its strength—the outcome results in poor fuel efficiency.

Having Trouble Starting the Engine


Trouble Starting the Engine

In addition to these, a bad air filter can also cause a low air-to-fuel ratio to develop, which means you will have a difficult time starting your car. This can lead to a spark plug pollution and engine flooding. A rough, idle, or a reluctant start is a common warning sign of a bad air filter.

Reduction in Horsepower


The lack of oxygen can also make acceleration sluggish, indicating a reduced horsepower. If your car responds slower than usual and jerks while accelerating, it may be due to the lack of air, caused by a potentially bad air filter. Lacking air filtration causes build of for debris and oxygen to not be circulating well.

Strange Engine Sounds


Usually, when your car is parked, and the engine is idle, you can hear a smooth, humming engine sound. However, if you hear or feel unusual vibrations, hiccups, or coughing, while your car idles, it is an indication of a damaged or a dirty spark plug due to a clogged air filter. This will be very easily noticeable if you are training your ears to be attentive to it. Without any background noise or music on in the vehicle, and a window rolled down, you’ll identify these in a heartbeat.

Exhaust Pipe Producing Black Smoke


When your air filter is clogged, the air is unable to reach the engine properly. Therefore, during the combustion cycle, the engine fails to burn off the fuel efficiently. This leads to fuel leakage through the system to the exhaust pipe. It not only damages your vehicle but can also be dangerous to the environment.

If your car shows any of the signs mentioned above, it is clear that it has a faulty air filter. A-Z Tech Automotive is at your service, just a phone call away! Call us at (949) 472-8111 or book an appointment online for
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