Your engine relies upon its air filter to keep dust and debris out of the engine. By providing a clean stream of air to the engine, an air filter ensures the engine gets the right amount of air needed to operate at its peak level.

Worn or dirty air filters will cause your engine to perform poorly; among the things you’ll notice is that you’ll have less power and weaker acceleration. Your throttle response will be diminished as well. But how do you know if it’s time to replace your air filter?

One rule of thumb is to keep track of how long your air filter has been in place. The average recommended length of service is about 10,000 to 15,000 miles, which for most people is every year or so. But keep in mind that, as with most things related to your car, this is just a recommendation and it doesn’t take into account your individual driving situation.

1. Reduced Fuel Efficiency

The most common sign is a decrease in gas mileage. When the air filter is dirty and the air is restricted, it causes the engine to work harder. More fuel is consumed to produce the same power. If you notice that you have to fill up more often, it’s time for a new air filter.

2) Your Car Seems to Have Less Power

A clean air filter will help your engine perform better; on newer cars, it can increase acceleration by as much as 11%, and on older cars it can improve mileage by as much as 14%. Other signs that your air filter is affecting your car’s performance is a jerking movement when you accelerate — or by not responding as well as it should.

3. The Air Filter Is Dirty

You can also check the air filter yourself. A new air filter is white or off-white in color. If you see that the filter is a grayish color, dirty, and full of debris, get it replaced.

4. Jerking Movements When You Accelerate

If you step on the gas and the car jerks forward, the air filter could be causing the problem. The reason for this is that the engine is not getting enough air to perform at its best.

5) Smoke or Flames Shoot Out of Your Exhaust When You Start the Car

One good indication that the air filter needs replaced is the presence of black smoke coming from your exhaust pipe(s) when you fire up the engine. You also might hear a popping sound or see a flame at the end of the exhaust pipe. This can happen when there’s not an adequate supply of air in the engine.

6. Strange Engine Sounds

Soot that accumulates on spark plugs, and ultimately damages the plugs, will cause a popping or an unusual coughing sound. If you hear strange sounds, ask your technician to check the spark plugs for damage when the air filter is replaced.

7) Your Check Engine Light Comes On

There are many different reasons that your check engine light comes on; it can be as simple as a loose gas cap or it can signal a bigger problem. One of those reasons can be that the engine isn’t getting enough air, so carbon deposits form in the engine and that triggers the light on your dashboard. When you take your car in to your mechanic, they’ll be able to do a quick scan to see what’s causing the problem and can tell you if it’s an air filter issue.


If you would like to schedule your air filter to get changed, give us a call at Murrieta Tire & Auto today! We can schedule an appointment for you!