What Happens When Your Car's Air Filter Gets Dirty?

A dirty air filter can have a significant impact on your car's performance. It reduces the amount of air supplied to the engine, resulting in an increase in unburned fuel that becomes soot residue. This soot can build up on the tips of the spark plugs, making them unable to produce a proper spark. As a result, your car may move sharply, idle, and in some cases, the engine may fail.

Decreased fuel economy is another sign of a faulty or dirty air filter. When the filter restricts air flow and reduces oxygen in the mixture, your engine compensates by consuming more fuel to produce enough power to move the same distance or speed as it could with a clean filter. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the air filter every 12,000 miles (approximately 19,000 km) or every 12 months, whichever comes first. For every gallon of gasoline consumed by a car, it must be able to ingest thousands of gallons of air to process that fuel efficiently.

If your air filter is old and clogged, you should consider replacing it as it can make driving much more difficult for modern vehicles. A clogged air filter on an older model vehicle will cause the engine to run poorly, resulting in reduced mileage, misfires and potential damage to some components. Most automotive companies recommend changing your air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or every 12 months. If you see black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, ask the mechanic to replace or clean the air filter.

Replacing the air filter can improve acceleration or power by up to 11%. But when the air filter doesn't allow enough or constant air to enter, it can cause the engine to have problems accelerating. If your car is not responding properly or if you notice sudden movements when you step on the accelerator, this could indicate that your engine is not getting all the air it needs to run. Newer cars with fuel-injected engines use on-board computers to calculate the amount of air entering the engine and adjust fuel flow accordingly.

For this reason, most car manufacturers recommend changing the air filter every 12,000 miles (approximately 19,000 km) or every 12 months, whichever comes first, regardless of how dirty the air filter appears to be. But while most people know at least the basics of oil changes or tire rotation, the air filter is one of those parts that can often be overlooked. Regularly replacing the air filter and checking it helps reduce the risk of this happening in the near future.

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