Mechanic Checking and Replacing the Air Filter in a Car

5 Signs That You Need to Change Your Car Air Filter

Many car owners aren’t sure when the best time to change the air filter in their car is. There are ways to know if your car is ready for a fresh filter. Here are five signs that it is time to switch out your air filter in your car.

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  1. Air Filter Looks Dirty
    • A new air filter will be white or an off-white color. As dirt accumulates in the filter, it will turn darker. If your filter looks dark, be sure to switch it with a new one. Sometimes the inner layers will have dirt that is not easy to spot. A mechanic can check if this is the case.
  2. Check Engine Light Turns On
    • The Check Engine Light can come on for many different reasons, and sometimes it is due to the air filter. If there isn’t enough air, carbon can build up and trigger the warning light. Your mechanic can check what triggered the warning sign when you take the car in for maintenance.
  3. Lower Horsepower
    • The car will jerk when you press the gas or won’t respond as well as before if there isn’t enough air. Replacing the air filter should improve this problem.
  4. Black, Sooty Smoke Leaving the Exhaust Pipe
    • Fuel may not burn the way it needs to if there’s a lack of oxygen. If you see this, the air filter needs to be cleaned or replaced right away. Popping sounds or flames at the end of the tailpipe also warns of this problem and can be very hazardous. Take your car to maintenance if you notice this immediately.
  5. Smell of Gas When the Engine Starts
    • If you are smelling gas when you start up your car, you need to replace your air filter. The fuel that didn’t get burned from its lack of air will exit through the tailpipe and leave that smell.

Person Holding a Very Dirty Air Filter from their Car

Person Opening and Checking their Air Filter in their Car

Person Replacing Their Air Filter with a New Clean One

Why is an Air Filter Important?

Air filters help your car and engine last longer. These filters prevent problematic materials from reaching the engine and other important car parts and contribute to keeping the appropriate balance of fuel being consumed.

We hope these signs help you identify that your filter needs a change. Follow our blog for more maintenance tips!