4 Common Dirty Air Filter Symptoms


The air filter of a car may be a small and inexpensive part but that small and inexpensive part is essential to the fuel economy and performance of a car. A clean air filter is counted among the basic needs of a car for it to function properly.

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There are numerous advantages and benefits that a clean air filter can provide to a car which include the improved gas mileage, lower emissions, improved acceleration and overall enhanced performance of the engine.

It is fairly easy to replace the air filter of your vehicle. However, before proceeding with the replacement of the car’s air filter, you first need to figure out if you in fact have a bad air filter. Symptoms of a dirty air filter are similar to that of other issues so it’s always best to do a quick physical inspection but looking for certain signs is also helpful.

Clogged Air Filter Symptoms

The more of the most common and the most troubling symptoms of a dirty air filter have been provided here. If any of these symptoms makes an appearance in your vehicle, you can at least put a dirty air filter on your shortlist of possible causes.

#1 – Strange Engine Noises

One of symptoms of a bad air filter is that the engine of your vehicle will start to produce different noises when it is idling and the vehicle is not in motion.

In case of hearing these noises (like coughing or spitting) when stopping for a traffic signal, you will have an idea that the engine of your vehicle is not being provided with enough airflow. This could very likely mean that the air filter of your car or truck needs to be replaced.

#2 – Decreased Performance

If poor acceleration of your vehicle has you frustrated, then it could mean that the air filter of your vehicle has become clogged enough where it’s not allowing enough air into the engine for it to accelerate properly.

The decrease in the engine power of the vehicle is also associated with this problem. The engine requires clean air for the combustion process to take place and the presence of a bad air filter will hinder the intake of that clean air.

This will not only decrease the power of your engine, it can also induce a jerking acceleration in your vehicle.

See Also: Engine Code P0113 (Intake Air Temperature Sensor 1 Circuit High Input)

#3 – Decreased Gas Mileage

Keeping a track of the average gas mileage of your vehicle will not only provide you with a good idea of a gas expenses, it will also help you to detect any decreases in the gas mileage which is another sign of a bad or dirty air filter.

A clogged air filter will cause problems in the combustion process which will force your vehicle to run richer than necessary and your engine to run harder than it needs to. You can save on considerable fuel expenses if you can keep track of the gas mileage, whether your vehicle calculates the average MPG itself, or if you need to do some manual math.

#4 – Spark Plug Problems

The spark plugs in a car’s engine may get polluted and clogged up due an incorrect air-fuel mixture because of a dirty air filter. This can induce rough idling, problems in starting the vehicle, and miss firing.

If your vehicle is experiencing any of these problems, then you need to suspect the air filter may be to blame. You should physically examine it and replace it, or if pressed for time, take it to a reliable mechanic and have it replaced.



  1. My car idle rough and engine vibrate and it’s given me alot of concerns. Mechanic have touched it and I had to stop them guessing. The reader say cylinder misfire and I’m disturbed.


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