What is An Engine Air Filter? | Symptoms of Bad Engine Air Filter

All vehicles contain an engine. The engine contains a combustor that needs adequate air to generate enough energy to power the car’s engine. However, the air circulating throughout the engine shouldn’t be contaminated. An air filter is used to supply fresh and contaminated free air to the engine. As the engine air filter goes bad, it damages the engine. This article explains the signs of a bad air filter and some other aspects.

What is an Air Filter?

An engine air filter is a mechanical device that prevents dirt and grime from entering the engine. If your vehicle doesn’t contain an air filter, the dust may wear out engine parts or damage the engine parts badly.  

A bad air filter generates various signs throughout that you can identify it.

engine air filter

Poor engine air filters can result in unusual engine noise, misfiring, poor fuel economy, black exhaust smoke, engine overheating, or poor vehicle performance.

What is the function of the Engine Air Filter?

The main function of the engine air filter is to stop the entry of road dust, dirt, debris, and insects into the engine and ensures sufficient air supply to the engine’s combustor.

A bad or clogged air filter reduces the performance of the car engine or badly damages the engine. An efficient air filter ensures the efficient working of the vehicle and prevents the engine parts from being damaged.

Therefore, for the efficient working of the engine, you must properly maintain your filter and replace it every 12 months or 12000 miles. Follow the owner’s instructions to replace the filter.

Symptoms of a Dirty Air Filter

The efficient working of the engine air filter is important for the higher performance of the engine. A dirty or clogged engine filter produces different signs. A clogged or dirty filter may cause engine failure. Therefore, you must replace or repair your dirty filter as soon as possible. Following are the symptoms of a dirty or bad air filter:

1) Unusual Engine Noises

The unusual engine noise is one of the common signs of a bad air filter. When the engine filter is clogged, the proper amount of air does not flow into the combustor, which can result in coughing, splattering, or splashing noises.

You may also hear a slight screeching noise if the airflow is restricted by excessive accumulation on the filter screen. In this case, only the engine sucks in the outside air via the filters.

2) Visibly Dirty Air Filter

The visibly dirty filter is a common symptom of a faulty engine air filter. Maximum cars contain an easy-to-use filter. To clean such a filter, you will just need to remove the filter casing or airbox. The clean filters have yellowish or white color, while the dirty filters are very similar to dirty filters on a vacuum cleaner.

Your owner’s manual should include the original air filter size, so you know which air filter to order if it needs to be replaced.

3) Poor Engine Performance

If the filter is dirty enough, it can affect the engine performance because the debris build-up blocks the airflow to the engine. A clogged filter can lead to engine deceleration, poor acceleration, and rough idling.

A large accumulation of dirt in the filter severely clogs the filter, which affects the engine performance. In general, this happens with the passage of time, and the engine’s performance gradually decreases. Therefore, you must check your engine filter regularly and replace it if necessary.

4) Poor Fuel Economy

A bad air filter may generate fuel economy issues. The bad filter restricts airflow to the engine due to that the engine works harder to get the required air. Polluted air or a low amount of air may also create issues to achieve the correct air/fuel ratio, which can also lead to poor engine performance and reduced fuel consumption.

5) Black Exhaust Smoke

Exhaust gases usually don’t have color. Black smoke indicates the engine is burning dirt or dust particles coming out of or through the filter, while blue exhaust smoke generally indicates that the car is burning oil. The dust particles may also foul spark plugs and burn additional oil or fuel.

6) Engine Misfiring

When the engine spark plug becomes clogged with dirt, it loses power or stops working altogether. This can cause the engine to misfire and reduce its overall performance of the engine. The longer the air filter lets dirt through, the more likely it is that the spark plug will fail and cause misfire problems.

7) Engine Stalling or Failure

If your engine misfiring becomes severe, the engine may stall. The continuous engine misfiring may damage the internal parts of the engine—the engine misfires due to the lack of combustion in one or more combustors.

8) Check Engine Light Illuminates

The “Check Engine Light” illumination is another sign of the damaged air filter. Your car naturally produces some carbon deposits as a by-product during engine combustion.

A damaged filter can restrict airflow to the engine, resulting in insufficient airflow and possible excessive fuel combustion. This can lead to unnecessary carbon build-up and ultimately trigger your check engine light.

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