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10 Signs You Need to Change Your Car Engine Air Filter

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Don’t expect your car to work its best with a dirty car engine air filter. When dirt blocks your engine’s air filter, it causes your engine to shut down. It’s surprising when people ignore such an important part of their car and think it’ll continue to work perfectly.

A filthy air engine filter will also cost you a lot of money and repairs since it can brutally decrease your car’s performance. If you have a very muddy engine air filter, you’re probably tired of hearing noises from your car. And if not, they’re going to show up soon.

So, how can you save yourself from all the unwanted repairs and car problems a dirty car engine air filter gives?

Here are the TOP 10 signs that tell you when to change car engine filter:

The top 10 signs you need to change your car engine air filter:

1. It’s clearly dirty!

A clogged engine air filter is not a pretty sight. It’s a sign your engine is badly in need of a cleaning session. If the dirt has settled and hardened on the air filter's surface, it's about time you get a replacement.

Change your car engine air filter so that it can breathe and perform better. The paper of your engine air filter needs to be changed often, if not regularly.

But in some cases, the filter paper can be too clogged and this will require professional help to clean. Moreover, cleaning it helps your car perform better and burn fuel faster.

2. Check engine light won’t turn off

When you see the dreaded check engine light turn on, firstly don’t ignore it. It points to serious issues with your engine that needs to be fixed.

Extra clogged engine air filters cause an imbalance in the air-to-fuel ratio of cylinders, which means there is more fuel than air or vice versa.

The check engine light turns on because your car isn’t getting enough air. Because the filter is too dirty, it blocks the regular flow of oxygen.

The solution to this is simple, get the best car engine air filter for your car soon. You can also clean your existing one, and consult mechanics if necessary.

3. Your car is driving slower

When driving, your car is slower and you feel it dragging through the road. This is because the dirt in your engine air filters negatively affects the torque and horsepower of your car.

And, you don’t see your car driving smoothly as it used to before.

The build-up of dirt in your car engine filter will decrease your car’s performance and make it harder to accelerate smoothly while driving.

Another major effect of lowering car speed is the loss of oxygen to your engine.

It is important to keep all parts of the engine clean for your car to work properly. So, if you notice your car is slower than usual, check its air filter.

4. The fuel tank is suffering

Your car starts using more fuel when the air filters are dirty. It will cost you more than needed if the air doesn’t reach your engine properly. Your car’s other inner parts will also struggle to perform if the engine aka.’ the heart of your car’ is not receiving proper air.

Keeping your air filter dirty for a long time gives you more future car problems. Get your engine air filter cleaned at the earliest - to avoid unnecessary repairs in the future.

Save your car from stalling and, protect your engine for the long term.

5. Car exhaust coughs smoke!

If you see black smoke or sparks of fire coming out from your car, it’s a major sign of engine issues.

The tailpipe of your car shows these signs when clean air is not entering your air filters. This can lead to the exhaustion of gas and be problematic for your car.

The combustion chamber of your car needs to have sufficient air reaching it. When this doesn’t happen, it results in starting problems for your car.

This causes major issues if you don’t replace your car’s engine filter at the right time.

6. You hear odd noises

Hearing noises such as coughing, knocking, or popping is a major sign of dirt build-up in your engine.

When your engine’s filters are dirty, the fuel injectors don’t receive clean fuel. This compels your engine to make odd noises.

The dirt in your car air filters will also affect the ability of your AC system to work properly.

You’ll then start hearing sounds coming from the inner parts of your car. An easy fix to this is to give your engine a regular or daily clean.

7. Your car reeks of gasoline

Your car isn’t burning fuel the way it’s supposed to. The leftover fuel comes out through the exhaust system and, gives a gasoline smell.

This creates a limited supply of oxygen to your engine’s air filters and, affects fuel efficiency. For your car to work perfectly, it needs at least 10,000 liters of air mixed with the fuel it gets.

When there isn’t enough air present with the fuel, the combustion of the car doesn’t work properly. To avoid these smells, make sure your engine air filter is maintained well.

8. The engine is misfiring

This is a very common cause of blocked engine filters. Your engine misfires because there isn’t enough air reaching it. If your engine is too dirty, clean, or replace it soon - to avoid stalling issues for your car.

When your engine is too choked, air doesn’t reach your engine. Because of this, there is a problem with ignition - and it causes a misfire.

You can opt for a car engine air filter replacement if too damaged or choked. Moreover, it’s important to note that - even if your car starts with an extremely dirty air filter, don’t do it.

The inner parts of your car require protection from climate change as well. This is only possible if fresh air can reach your engine and make it work properly.

9. Problems starting your car

The spark plugs of your car get wet because of fuel that wasn’t burnt properly.

When air is not reaching your engine filters in the right way, it causes spark plug problems and gives your car starting issues in the future.

When you see residue on your spark plugs, clean your air filters to keep your systems working optimally.

Dust them often to keep dirt away. Also, it’s important to keep your engine air filters and spark plugs clean to preserve fuel economy.

10. Your engine is fighting to breathe

Just like your heart needs sufficient air and oxygen, the heart of your car - its engine needs it. But, it’s impossible when the combustion chamber of your engine doesn’t receive air.

Your engine air filter might be too dirty to let oxygen in.

The main solution to this issue is to get filters cleaned soon. Perform regular checks on the air filters and clean them.

Never let them get to a point where they get too dirty, and need to be replaced. As this can cause long-term issues for your car.


Your car engine air filter is important for your car to function properly. Not cleaning them results in low gas mileage, drivability problems, noises, black smoke, and more. It is important to pick the best car engine air filter for your car - as per its requirements.

To avoid long-term problems, check on the air filters regularly and replace them if they are too clogged or damaged. Your air filter paper needs to be clean too.

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Frequently Asked Questions.

1. Why should I clean my car air engine filter?

It is important to clean your engine’s air filter to make your engine work properly. Cleaning your car engine air filter increases its lifespan and saves it from unwanted harm. It helps your car perform better and produces lower emissions too.

It is also an economically efficient choice as your car burns fuel faster when the engine air filter is cleaned. So, make sure to pick the best car engine air filter for your car according to its requirements.

2. Will my car become slower if I don’t clear my engine air filter?

Yes, your car performs slower when your engine air filter isn’t clean. This is because the engine needs a sufficient amount of air to function properly. And, when a default in the ratio of fuel-to-air in the engine system occurs, it gives drivability issues.

3. What will happen if my engine air filter is dirty?

In the event your engine air filter gets too dirty, it will clog your car engine. This will cause a brutal fall in the drivability and fuel efficiency of your car. And, if too much dirt collects on the engine air filter, it causes your engine to shut down in the long term.

4. How often should I change my car engine air filter?

You should change your car engine air filters every 13,000 to 15,000 miles. But, if you drive in dustier weather conditions, you should change your car filter sooner by 11 to 12,000 miles.

5. Will my engine air filter affect AC?

Dirty engine air filters will cause your car to give harmful emissions. When the air isn’t filtered, it induces toxic pollutants to reach your lungs. This not only affects your health but also causes stalling in your car.

6. How long does a car engine air filter last?

A car engine air filter is very important to your car’s functioning. It’s built to go a long way but it needs to be changed every 13,000 miles. Damaged engine air filters should be replaced quickly.


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