How To Determine If The Air Filter Is Dirty: 5 Signs To Look Out For
Air filters ensure that any air that gets to the engine is clean or free of debris and dust. If the car air filter is dirty and needs to be replaced, you’ll notice unusual sounds, a reduced fuel economy and other signs that indicate something is wrong. If the air filter is not changed in good time, debris and other contaminants may quickly get to the engine and cause severe damage. Here are a few signs that your car’s air filter needs replacing.
A misfiring or jerking engine
When dirt and debris accumulates on the air filter, there lacks adequate supply of air to the engine. This later causes soot residue to accumulate on certain components like the spark plug. When the spark plug is corroded, the engine performance is adversely affected. You will often notice misfiring or jerking whenever you try to start the car. The mechanic can inspect the air filter and recommend a change before the spark plug is completely damaged.
Reduction in acceleration or horsepower
Have you noticed a lag or jerking whenever you try to press the accelerator? It could be that the air filters are dirty so the engine is not receiving enough air. Lack of adequate air supply could lead to poor engine performance. In fact, research shows that a simple maintenance step such as changing the air filter can boost acceleration by 11%.
Higher fuel consumption
If you’ve noticed your average fuel consumption has gone up, it could be an indication that the air filter needs to be changed. This is especially true for older cars. New cars have a technology where a computer is able to calculate the level of air in the engine and then adjust the fuel accordingly. Thus if you have an older car, the dirty air filters could significantly affect fuel economy but this may not be the case for new car models.
Presence of dirt or contaminants on the air filter
The most obvious way to tell that the air filter needs to be changed is by looking at its appearance. When it’s clean, the air filter will appear white or off white. When dirty, you may not even tell that it was white in the first place; it usually has a dark color. You can use bright light to inspect the air filter. Watch out for signs of dirt or dust on the inside paper in the air filter. Ask your mechanic to inspect the air filter on your behalf.
The smell of gasoline
If you smell gasoline whenever you start the car, it’s probably time to change the air filter. The smell occurs because there is inadequate supply of air to the carburetor when you start the car. This means that any unburnt fuel will exit the car via the exhaust pipe.
Regular car maintenance can help you to avoid any of the problems mentioned above. When you take the car for regular servicing, the air filter will be inspected to ensure it is clean.