What Happens When a Car's Air Filter is Clogged?

A clogged air filter can have a significant impact on the performance of your car. When the filter is blocked, it restricts the amount of air that can enter the engine, leading to an increase in unburned fuel and soot residue. This soot can build up on the tips of the spark plugs, preventing them from producing a spark and causing the engine to misfire, idle roughly, and even fail. In addition to engine misfires, rough idling, and hard starts, a clogged air filter can also lead to decreased fuel economy.

This is because the restricted airflow reduces oxygen in the mixture, forcing the engine to consume more fuel in order to produce enough power to move the same distance or speed as it could with a clean filter. Most automotive companies recommend changing the air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or every 12 months. However, if you live in an area with a lot of dust or traffic, such as Scottsdale, Arizona or Los Angeles, California, it's a good idea to have your mechanic check and change it more often. It's also important to note that most vehicles have a cabin air filter that is used to clean the air entering the interior of the car.

This filter has a different maintenance program than an engine air filter. Replacing the air filter is one of the easiest DIY tasks you can perform on your vehicle and can improve acceleration or power by up to 11%. However, if your air filter is old and heavily clogged, it's best to have your mechanic scan your vehicle and replace it as soon as possible. Air filter replacement costs vary depending on the model of the car and where you are looking.

Make sure your mechanic checks the air filter when you leave your car for maintenance and follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding replacing it. For most vehicles, it's recommended that you change the air filter every 12,000 miles (approximately 19,000 km) or every 12 months, whichever comes first. If you see black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, ask your mechanic to change or clean the air filter. Overall, replacing an old or clogged air filter can make driving much easier for modern vehicles. It's one of the best and easiest improvements you can make to your car and can help restore its performance.