Dirty Air Filter: 8 Symptoms And Replacement Cost

by Mohammed Burman | 21/12/2020
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Air filter can easily become dirty, which will cost a certain amount of money to replace it. Read on to discover the eight symptoms of a clogged air filter and its replacement cost.

All car engines come with a combustion chamber which needs air to create adequate power to run the car motors. Nevertheless, the air flowing through motor needs to be clean. An air filter is very important as it prevents your motor from getting contaminated. As a result, the air filter will become dirty as time passes by. A dirty or faulty air filter can have a bad impact on your car’s performance because of the inadequate airflow into the motor. A car owner should know the symptoms of a dirty air filter and how much it will cost to replace a faulty one. Read on to discover.

dirty air filter

A faulty air filter can have many negative impacts on your car motor.


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What is an air filter’s function?

An air filter prevents all the dirt and contaminants from reaching your motor and makes sure that a sufficient amount of airflow is supplied into the motor’ combustion chamber. When the air filter is too dirty, gets clogged and even stops working, the car performance can be decreased and the engine can be damaged.

To prevent this, car experts advise car owners to replace the filters every 12 months or 12,000 miles. However, don’t forget to check the car manual for the air filter’s replacement schedules. A reusable air filter like a K&N filter is one of the best and most practical options. It may be a little bit expensive in the beginning but it will last until your vehicle stops working because you only need to reoil and clean it. Furthermore, thanks to this filter, your car will be a little more powerful.


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What are the symptoms of a clogged air filter?

As aforementioned, a faulty air filter can have negative impacts on your car engine’s performance. So, what are the symptoms of a dirty air filter? Below, we have compiled eight of them.

Strange noises from the engine

When the car starts to operate, if the air filter is working finely, the signature sound of a normal engine is emitted. On the other hand, if the air filter is clogged, the amount of airflow that is able to go into the combustion chamber will be insufficient and strange noise may be emitted from the motor. A slight whistling sound can also be heard if the airflow is limited due to a large number of contaminants on the filter screen. Moreover, your car can also excessively vibrates.

Power lack

Since an insufficient amount of air is allowed to get into the motor, it may not operate efficiently, which can result in poor acceleration. If your car seems slow or sluggish, check the air filter’s conditions immediately.

Check engine light

Check engine light is the next symptom of a faulty air filter. During motor combustion, your car normally produces carbon deposits. A clogged air filter limits the airflow into the motor, which results in insufficient air supply and too much fuel being burned. This causes an excessive amount of carbon deposits, which causes the check motor light to illuminate. In this case, you are required to check your vehicle because a check engine light illuminating can mean numerous issues.

check engine light

The check engine light illuminating can mean that the air filter has got dirty.

Dirty and dark air filter

As dirt and debris gradually accumulate on the filter’s surface, its colour starts to darken. The air filter can be checked manually and visually to see whether it needs replacing. Normally, simply removing several clips on the air filter cover or canister will help you check it. To be more careful, the filter should be removed and observed during the daytime to see how much contaminated it is. You can also bring your car to a dealership to have it serviced. Have the air filter checked by a mechanic and strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly replace the air filter.

Fuel mileage reduction

A car motor utilizes air and gasoline to fire up and generate power. When the air supply is inadequate, the car motor can correct the mistake on its own by consuming too much fuel. This is the reason why a fuel mileage reduction is a clear symptom of a bad air filter.

Engine misfiring

A dirty filter will result in the air supply lowered, which will lead to unburned fuel. As a consequence, soot residue will be formed and accumulate on the spark plug tip. In this case, a proper spark cannot be delivered by the plug to ignite the air-fuel mixture and your car will misfire and experience rough jerks when starting to operate, especially when accelerating.

Dark smoke and flames from the exhaust

As mentioned above, an insufficient amount of air into the motor can lead to unfinished fuel burning in the combustion chamber. The unburned fuel gets out of the motor via the exhaust, which will cause black or dark smoke. You can even see some flames coming out of the exhaust pipes.

black smoke from exhaust

The dark smoke from the engine can indicate that the air filter has got clogged.

Fuel smell when startup

When the air supply is inadequate, the unburned fuel comes out of the motor and may not generate black smoke. However, it can emit gasoline smell, a clear indicator of a faulty air filter.


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How much does it cost to replace an air filter?

Air filter replacement cost depends on the car model and the place where you buy the new one. Since replacing the air filter is a simple task, you can do it by yourself. A standard air filter can be bought for between $10 (nearly INR 737) and $25 (nearly INR 1,842). If you want to buy a reusable air filter, you must be willing to pay $45 (around INR 3,315) to $80 (nearly INR 5,894). When it has been used for one year, you will need to buy a cleaning kit. Fortunately, the cleaning kit is affordable and can be used for many times. If you want to have a mechanic replace the air filter for you, he/she is likely to chare you around $20 (INR 1,473) to $30 (INR 2,210) for the labour cost.

Is an air filter washable?

This depends on the type of air filter used in your car. Air filters are available in three types: Foam, disposable and reusable. A disposable air filter cannot be cleaned, which means that you do not have any other choices apart from replacing it when it gets faulty. Nevertheless, the other two types are washable; however, they must be dried before being replaced since a wet filter can have a negative impact on your car’s motor.

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