Do you know that your engine relies upon its air filter to keep dust and debris out of the engine?  An air filter ensures the engine gets the right amount of air needed to operate at its peak level by providing a clean stream of air to the engine. Replacing the engine air filter is a maintenance item that can often be overlooked, but a dirty air filter can have a negative effect on your car’s performance. When was the last time you changed your car’s air filter? Let’s take a quick look at a few signs that your air filter should be changed!

Air filter visually looks dirty

A quick way to find out whether it’s time for a replacement is to do a visual inspection. If your air filter is clean, it should be white or off-white. As dust and dirt accumulate on it over time, the air filter will get darker and the dirt will be visually noticeable. You will know it is due for a replacement when it starts looking dark and you notice signs that it is clogged!

Car seems to have lesser power

A clean air filter will help your engine perform better. Do you know that acceleration can be increased by as much as 11% on newer cars, while mileage on older cars can be increased by as much as 14%? Yes, amazing isn’t it? Other notable signs that your air filter is affecting your car’s performance is a jerking movement when you accelerate.

Noticeably lesser mileage

When the air filter is dirty, it will have a hard time getting the required air in, and the engine has to work a lot harder. While your gas mileage might not suffer too badly at first, but as time goes by, you will definitely be able to notice the numbers start dropping quickly. A simple observation would be checking if you have to fill up the gas tank more often than usual.

Check engine light comes on

While there are many different reasons that your check engine light may come on, one of those reasons can be that the engine is not getting enough air! Carbon deposits form in the engine and that may potentially trigger the engine light on your dashboard. Taking a quick look at the air filter would be a good idea to see if the air filter is due for a replacement too!

Car exhaust starts to cough out black smoke

One good indication that the air filter needs replacing is when you start noticing black smoke coming from your exhaust pipe when firing up the engine. When there is inadequate supply of air in the engine, not all of the fuel will burn properly in the combustion cycle and it will leave the car through the exhaust. You should take it to your mechanic immediately as it may pose potential safety concerns.