What Are the Symptoms Of A Bad Air Filter?

For a vehicle, the engine is like a heart, and the air intake is similar to the lungs. But what happens when the lungs get affected?

Every engine has a combustion chamber that relies on air to generate power. But the air has to be uncontaminated and clean; otherwise, it can make the vehicle suffocate. So, a bad air filter can lead to extensive problems.

But don’t worry, the good news is you can quickly identify a bad air filter by some symptoms.

An air filter can get dirty over time due to central function. Thus, a bad air filter can restrict sufficient airflow into the engine. As a result, you may face several troubles because of a bad air filter.

In this article, you will learn “what are the symptoms of a bad air filter.” Hence, you will know within the time when to change your air filter with a new one.

What Is the Necessity of An Air Filter?

An air filter keeps the contaminants, dirt, and debris of the air away from the vehicle not to reach the engine. It also ensures sufficient airflow into the engine combustion chamber.

An air filter is a crucial part of any vehicle as it makes sure the engine is working correctly. Without a properly working air filter, it will be quite difficult for the machine to perform as it helps the engine last longer than usual.

So, a bad air filter can decrease the power and performance of a vehicle. So, you must check your air filter as a part of the automotive routine. According to experts, replacing your air filter every 12 months would be okay.

But if your air filter does not work correctly for some reason, you should always check it out with a mechanic. The symptoms of a bad air filter given in this article will help you to recognize it.

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The Symptoms of a Bad Air Filter

Then, let’s get the answer to what are the symptoms of a bad air Lifter?

1. Appearing Dark and Dirty

The easiest way to recognize a lousy filter is to appear dark and dirty from the outside. Usually, a new air lifter appears nearly white and gradually turns brown or black.

The continuous dirt and debris from the outside and contaminants of the air darken the air filter over time. When the air filter visually gets darken, check it manually whether it is working correctly or not.

It would be wise of you to inspect it under bright light. If it is darkening only for dirt and debris, make sure to clean it but if you face other problems, find a replacement.

2. Unusual Noises

An engine with good airflow has a typically smooth sound that you well-known.

But if your air filter gets clogged, a lack of airflow into the combustion chamber would create strange sounds like sputtering and popping, even sometimes may excessively vibrate.

If you face anything like this unusual engine noise, know that it’s time to check the air filter. You should also check the spark plugs if they have suffered any damage as well.

Replacing your lousy air filter and damaged spark plugs will remove this problem.

3. Lack of Power and gas mileage

A lousy air lifter would restrict the airflow to the engine, causing the machine to work inefficiently. One sign of having this problem is the poor acceleration of the vehicle.

A decrease in gas mileage would occur due to a bad air filter due to a lack of fuel efficiency.

The vehicle will seem to lack power and slower than usual. In this case, checking the air filter should be your first step.

4. Misfiring or Missing of the Engine

If you face difficulty in starting your vehicle, like making multiple attempts to turn on an engine, there is a possibility of having a bad air filter.

When the vehicle has an imbalanced fuel ratio, the engine can misfire or have trouble starting. So, if your vehicle’s engine misfires or fails to start causing a rough jerk while idling and accelerating, you should check your air filter first.

5. Check Engine Lights Illuminates

Another way to find out a bad air filter is by checking the service lights. A vehicle usually produces some carbon as a byproduct during engine combustion.

A clogged and bad air filter restricts airflow, which leads to excessive carbon deposits. Eventually, this excessive amount of carbon would trigger the engine lights.

Although the engine lights can illuminate for various reasons, there is a possibility to cause this due to a bad filter.

6. Black Smoke from Exhaust Pipe

Due to the restriction of airflow, fuel may not burn at a sufficient rate. As a result, it can lead to fuel leaking out of the exhaust pipe.

As super-heated fuel expels through the exhaust system, you may hear a popping sound coming out of your vehicle. This situation can turn into a problematic issue for the machine.

It will also pollute the environment. If you see unusual exhaustion from your vehicle, make sure to check your air filter.

7. Strong Fuel Smell During Startup

A terrible fuel smell is a good indicator of a bad air filter. When an air filter went terrible, the unburned fuel due to inadequate air supply would produce smoke or flames. In this case, the engine will emit a distinct gasoline smell.

You can confirm a lousy filter in case of exhaust leakage by checking the emission of black smoke.

8. Reduction In fuel Economy

An engine needs gasoline and air to produce power. Because of a lack of airflow, the machine compensates for the deficit of air with extra fuel. As a result, A visible reduction in the MPG occurs.

This reduction in fuel economy is a clear indicator that the air filter might not be working correctly. So, it’s time to replace your old air filter with a new one.

Dirty Air Filter Fixing

A malfunction of one part can lead to another one’s damage and, thus, create a chain of issues in a vehicle.

Sometimes a simple part like an air filter can lead to immense damage like harmful emissions, fuel wastage, damaged spark plugs, carbon builds up, etc.

So, it is essential to be careful and aware of all the parts of a vehicle that can cause any damages.

Knowledge of the symptoms that indicate damage or problem in any vehicle part will keep you ahead of any future damage. You can even take precautions early just by observing the symptoms of a bad filter.

The benefit of knowing the symptoms of a dirty air filter is you can fix it at a low price on the primary stage because the dirty air filter is an easy fix.

Just keeping your air filter clean can help you avoid any additional issues and ensure the vehicle’s safe and more extended performance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can one wash and clean an air filter?

Washing and cleaning methods depend on the types of air filters. For a disposable air filter, replacement is the only option as you cannot clean it. However, you can clean the reusable and foam filters, but you must dry them before installing them.

What happens if you do not replace your lousy air filter?

Not replacing a lousy air filter will cause harmful contaminants to damage your engine performance. As a result, you will face a lack of power and other damages to your vehicle.

Can a bad air filter cause a vehicle not to start?

If your vehicle is not starting, it can occur for various reasons. A dirty air filter may be one of them. A dirty air filter can cause excessive carbon build-ups, which damage the spark plugs and misfires the engine. Eventually, driving your vehicle not to start.

Final Words

A vehicle needs enough air to reach its engine to burn fuel and generate enough vehicle energy. An air filter plays a vital role in this case.

The air filter keeps the contaminants and dirt away so that the airflow does not restrict reaching the engine. Thus, it also keeps the combustion chamber away from building too much carbon builds up, which leads to other damages.

When an air filter gets clogged, it does not work correctly to supply adequate air to the engine. This insufficient air supply can sometimes cause a decrease in the vehicle’s performance and power, along with other problems like damaged spark plugs.

When you know that the air filter is not working correctly beforehand, you can avoid such damages and restore your vehicle’s performance. If you have a minimal issue, you can quickly fix the air filter as it is not that expensive.

This article gives you a crystal-clear idea about “What are the symptoms of a bad air filter.” Moreover, by observing your air filter symptoms, you can decide whether you need a fix or replacement for it automatically.


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