What Happens When You Drive With a Dirty Air Filter?

A dirty air filter can have a significant impact on your car's engine performance. Learn what happens when you drive with a dirty air filter and how Premium Guard can help.

What Happens When You Drive With a Dirty Air Filter?

A dirty air filter can have a significant impact on the performance of your car's engine. It reduces the amount of air supplied to the engine, leading to an increase in unburned fuel that turns into soot residue. This soot can build up on spark plug tips, making them unable to produce a proper spark. As a result, the car may move abruptly, idle, and in some cases, the engine may fail.

A decrease in fuel consumption is often a sign that something is wrong. Air filter contributes to fuel efficiency, but a dirty filter can reduce oxygen flow. To compensate for this, the vehicle must burn more fuel. Engine misfires, rough idling, and hard starts can be attributed to a clogged engine air filter.

The dirty air filter restricts air supply to the engine, causing unburned fuel to form a soot residue that accumulates in the spark plug. This fouls the spark plug (s) and decreases its ability to produce the spark needed for the combustion process. Changing the affected air filter and spark plugs will restore your engine's performance. Most automotive companies recommend changing the air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or every 12 months.

However, if you normally drive in dusty or rural areas such as Scottsdale, Arizona or San Antonio, Texas, it's a good idea to have your mechanic check and change it more often, for example, every 6,000 miles. Driving in busy areas where there is a lot of traffic, including Los Angeles and Washington D. C., which causes you to stop and start more often also requires you to replace the air filter more often. Most vehicles also have a cabin air filter that is used to clean the air entering the interior of the car, but it has a different maintenance program than an engine air filter. Like the air filters in your home, your vehicle's air filter can become clogged with all kinds of debris.

If it seems like your car seems slower and a little slow, checking the condition of your air filter should be the first step (always look for the cheapest and easiest cause possible when diagnosing ANY automotive problem). That's why a reduction in miles per gallon is usually a clear sign that you may need to replace your air filter. Running your car without an air filter allows dirt, leaves, debris, insects and a multitude of air pollutants to enter. Something as simple as an air filter can cause everything from harmful emissions, fuel waste, damaged spark plugs and engine buildup. Whether or not to clean an air filter depends on the type of air filter you use in your car. In addition to extraneous noises, your vehicle can also vibrate excessively, as not enough air is released from the air-fuel ratio.

If you find that your air filter needs a change, it is advisable to also check the condition of the spark plugs to see if they have also suffered any damage. Many modern engines draw around 10,000 gallons of air for every gallon of fuel burned in the combustion cycle. Therefore, cleaning the air filter in newer cars should not significantly affect fuel economy. Premium Guard manufactures the highest quality automotive air filters designed to protect your engine up to 12,000 miles with 99% efficiency. It is essential for your mechanic to check the air filter when taking the car for maintenance. If you notice that your car vibrates excessively or you hear coughing or clicking noises, it is often due to a clogged air filter that dirties or damages a spark plug.