A clean engine air filter allows for proper acceleration, extended engine life, lower emissions and overall improved engine performance.
Your vehicle’s engine requires both fuel and air to create power. However, to prevent damage to the engine, the air needs to be filtered before it enters the combustion chamber. Your engine air filter handles this task – filtering out contaminants such as dirt, dust, bugs, leaves, and other debris. When the engine air filter becomes dirty or clogged, airflow to the engine is restricted, which can sap your vehicle’s performance. Auto manufacturers generally recommend replacing the air filter once a year or every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Depending on where you live and drive most frequently, your installer may suggest replacing it more often.
Here are 5 signs that it’s time to replace your engine air filter.
1. Decreased Throttle Response
If your car is not accelerating with adequate power or it is jolting when you accelerate, it’s possible that a dirty air filter is the culprit because it’s preventing enough air from entering the engine.
2. Check Engine Light
Carbon deposits can form on the engine and activate the check engine light if there is deficient air supply. Ask your installer to check the air filter when troubleshooting the source of the problem.
3. Gasoline Odor
If you smell gasoline when you start your car, it may mean that there is a lack of oxygen getting into the fuel injection system. The gas odor is the unused fuel that has escaped through the exhaust pipe and a warning to check your air filter.
New air filters come in a few different colors. Whether yours is white, yellow, red, green or orange – if you inspect your air filter and find that it is full of debris or is discolored in any way, consider replacing it.
5. Torn or Damaged Filter Media
Any opening in the filter media will allow dirt and contaminating debris, or particles, to bypass the filter and interfere with the mass airflow (MAF) sensor. The mass airflow (MAF) sensor has a very important job in telling the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU) exactly how much fuel should be injected for optimal efficiency and performance. If a damaged engine air filter is neglected, dirt that sticks to the MAF sensor will eventually prevent it from telling the ECU how much fuel is required. It’s worth mentioning that if the MAF sensor is damaged, it will most likely need to be replaced – and some can cost hundreds of dollars.
Small bits of preventative maintenance such as this will help you avoid major headaches later. Avoid headaches by keeping an eye out for any of these 5 signs that it is time to replace your engine air filter. Remember that it’s best to always have an inspection during routine service by a professional installer. They have the tools, parts, and expertise to get the job done right.