Dirty Air Filter Symptoms (9 Things To Be Aware Of)

If the engine is the heart of every vehicle, then the air filter is its lungs. Your car requires oxygen to survive; however, what happens if a filthy air filter prevents that vital oxygen from getting in?

Air is necessary for combustion engines to run, and a faulty air filter can cause a car to suffocate, which can cause other issues in the future. Let’s find out more about the symptoms of a dirty air filter!

Dirty Air Filter Symptoms

1. Air Filter Seems To Be Dirty

The filter’s actual appearance is among the simplest signs to identify. For example, fresh filters have an almost white appearance.

Further, your filter will become filthy and turn brown or black due to airborne pollutants. So, your initial confirmation of a defective filter may come from a visual examination.

Therefore, always inspect your filter in a well-lit area. Of course, it is necessary to clear it out if it looks polluted with dust, dirt, and debris.

2. Reduced Gas Mileage

Gas mileage dropping is typically a clue that something is wrong with your car.

Likewise, your air filter helps fuel economy, but a filthy air filter might result in less oxygen flowing through your engine.

That said, it requires a vehicle to use extra gasoline to make up for it. Maintaining a clean air filter helps the air moving and your fuel efficiency where it needs to be.

3. Misfires With Your Engine

Do you have trouble getting your car to start? Is it difficult to start, or does the engine need to be revved? Your automobile may have a poor air-to-fuel ratio if it struggles to start.

Read More:  Why Is My Car Blowing White Smoke But Not Overheating? (11 Reasons Why)

Additionally, engine overflow and spark plug smog can occur when the fuel-to-air ratio is too high. Also, misfires or startup issues may come from this.

Therefore, you should check the air filter if your car struggles to start or has a rough idle.

4. Unusual Engine Sounds

What noise does your automobile make while it is parked? An engine with adequate oxygen flow should purr evenly and smoothly.

However, you may have a faulty air filter if your idle is clanky or you hear vibrations or hiccups. Spark plug contamination from problems with the air intake is a typical cause of this problem.

So, if you find that your air filter has to be replaced, it’s a good idea to inspect the spark plugs to see if they have any damage.

Further, your engine will idle much more smoothly if you replace these two components.

5. Vehicle’s Check Engine Light Turns On

Vehicle's Check Engine Light Turns On

Accumulations within the engine are one of several causes for your check engine light to come on.

Of course, when contaminants enter the engine, they can accumulate over time and, if they start to affect engine performance, generate a buildup that sets off the service light.

As a result, the vehicle must be able to take in gallons and gallons of air for every gasoline it uses to digest the fuel effectively.

Without air, a crucial component of combustion engines, they cannot operate. Therefore, you should get your check engine light looked at as soon as it lights to determine the problem.

Additionally, an expert can interpret your service code and assist you in figuring out whether it has anything to do with your vehicle’s air intake problems.

Read More:  Why Are There Ants In My Car? (7 Reasons Why)

6. Decreased Horsepower

When your acceleration appears sluggish, oxygen depletion may cause your horsepower’s poor performance.

Most likely, if your automobile responds slowly or jerks when accelerating, it isn’t receiving the air it requires to function at its best.

Of course, the engine’s performance fully determines how much horsepower a car has.

Also, the engine pushes more fuel into the combustion chamber to keep up with the decreased oxygen.

As a result, your horsepower will be drastically reduced due to the redirected power.

7. Fires Or Dark Smoke Coming From The Exhaust Pipe

When oxygen has difficulty getting to the engine, it may not burn the gasoline quickly enough.

As a result, some of the gas may end up seeping through the system or out of the vehicle’s exhaust pipe.

In addition, as superheated gasoline is released throughout the exhaust system, you can also hear cracking sounds.

So, this crisis wastes gasoline and poses a severe risk to the environment and your car; be sure to investigate any strange exhaust fumes.

8. Powerful Fuel Odor

You may smell when gasoline is flowing from your vehicle’s exhaust pipe, alerting you that there’s something wrong if you have a dirty air filter.

While a stench may also suggest a gasoline tank leak, looking for black smoke will allow you to validate your concerns about an exhaust leak.

9. Filthy Spark Plugs

If there’s insufficient airflow from a clogged-up filter, the piston’s gasoline may not fully ignite, resulting in a sooty black burn.

As a result, the consequences of this operation may be seen on the spark plugs as comparable dirty markings.

Read More:  Why Is My Traction Control Light On? (11 Reasons Why)

To know more, you can also read our posts on Ford Escape AC not working, DD 15 bad fuel pump symptoms, and clogged fuel pump symptoms


Everything from dangerous emissions, wasted gasoline, broken spark plugs, and engine deposits can be brought on by something as basic as the air filter.

Therefore, paying close attention to components that experience heavy wear and strain is essential and helps you avoid other related issues.

Leave a Comment