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Eight Air Filter Warning Signs

Air filters have a critical part in delivering maximum power to your engine by allowing airflow and keeping harmful contaminants out of your intake manifold and valve train. Generally, it is recommended you change the air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first. However, if you drive in areas with high traffic volume, you might want to consider changing it every 6,000 miles. Over time, the air filter can get clogged, which can affect the overall performance of your car. Make sure you know the warning signs of a failing filter so you can have a better sense of when it should be replaced.

1. Gas Mileage

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Pay attention to your car's gas mileage-a common symptom of a dirty air filter is a decrease in fuel efficiency. Your engine compensates for the lower amounts of oxygen by consuming more fuel to produce enough power. By maintaining a clean, efficient air filter, you can save on fuel costs.

2. Misfiring or Missing Engine

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If you're noticing that the engine does not start up easily, it may be due to a dirty air filter. An unclean air filter greatly impedes the amount of airflow to the engine, which in turn causes an overly rich air-fuel blend. Highly concentrated air-fuel mixtures can pollute the spark plugs , which will cause your engine to misfire or miss completely. This is most noticeable when your car idles roughly and you have problems starting the engine.

3. Unusual Engine Sounds

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When the car is not moving with the engine turned on, you should sense the smooth hum of an efficient engine. If you notice your car is vibrating or hear a coughing or slipping sound, this could be an indication of rough idling taking course. This condition occurs because of a damaged spark plug resulting from a clogged air filter.

4. Service Engine Light

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The car engine combines thousands of gallons of air with one gallon of gasoline to power your car. Inadequate air can result in deposits accumulating on the engine, which may eventually trigger your service engine light. If this light comes on , you should check your air filter to see if it is dirty and needs replacing.

5. Air filter appears dirty

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If your air filter is brand new, it will look white or off-white. Over time, as it accumulates dust and dirt, it will turn darker in color. When examining your air filter, you should do it in the light of day or with a flashlight, since pollen and dust cannot easily be seen. If you think your air filter is dirty and may need replacing, visit your local service center to have it checked and replaced.

6. Reduced Horsepower

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Take notice of your vehicle's ability to accelerate. If your car does not respond normally when you press the accelerator or if you notice jerking movements, this is a sign that your engine is not receiving the air it needs to perform. When this occurs, you should check and replace your filter if it appears dirty.

7. Black Smoke or Flames Exiting the Exhaust

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An insufficient air supply can result in some of the fuel not burning and exiting the car through the exhaust pipe. If you see black smoke coming from your exhaust pipe, schedule an appointment with your local mechanic to replace or clean the air filter. You might also hear popping sounds or see a flame at the end of the exhaust; this happens when excess fuel in the pipe ignites.

8. Gasoline Smell

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If there is not enough oxygen entering the carburetor or fuel ejection system when you start the car, the excess unburnt fuel exits the car through the exhaust pipe. That's when you will notice the gasoline scent and know that it's time to replace the air filter.

Schedule an appointment if you notice any of the following signs above.

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