The engine air filter is an essential component of your vehicle. It is designed to keep dirt and debris from entering the cylinders and damaging them, which can lead to a decrease in power and even overheating. If the wrong filter is used, it can allow dirt to seep through and cause serious damage. Additionally, a dirty or faulty air filter can reduce fuel economy as the engine will need to consume more fuel to produce the same amount of power.
Expensive large diesel engines have air filter restriction indicators that will alert you when it's time to replace the filter. If you hear unusual noises such as coughing, clicking, or spitting, this could be a sign that the engine is not receiving enough airflow and needs a new air filter. Over time, the air filter will become clogged and lose its ability to filter air entering the engine. It looks like an accordion made of stiff cloth and works similarly to the one in your home. When the air filter becomes too dirty, it will block the flow of clean air to the engine.
Driving with a dirty air filter can have a negative impact on both your health and your vehicle's performance. Most car manufacturers recommend changing the air filter every 12,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first. If you don't replace it regularly, it can cause unburned fuel to form a soot residue that accumulates in the spark plug. The air intake system sucks in air and purifies it before using it in the air-fuel mixture. Before reaching the engine, the filtered air passes through a mass flow meter which measures how clean it is and determines the correct air-fuel ratio for maximum fuel efficiency and performance.
If an incorrect filter is installed or not installed properly, it can leave the engine exposed to dirt and debris. A dirty air filter reduces the amount of clean air that reaches the engine, decreasing its power and performance. It can also cause carbon deposits to build up which can trigger the Check Engine light. To avoid these issues, make sure you replace your car's air filter every 12,000 miles or 12 months.