Does engine air filter affect performance?

A dirty air filter reduces the amount of clean air that reaches the engine, which decreases its power and performance. Replacing the dirty engine air filter with a new, clean one can improve engine acceleration. Aftermarket air filters can lead to increases in engine performance and an increase in fuel mileage rating. However, these may be more noticeable on older cars, where the general air intake is formatted differently than newer models.

For newer models, some “performance” air filters can only make a negligible difference (although this varies, of course, depending on the car model and type of air filter). Consult with an automotive professional about air filter options. A dirty filter reduces the air supply to your car's engine, causing fuel not to burn. This fuel causes the formation of soot residues that accumulate at the tip of the spark plug.

A dirty air filter reduces the amount of air supplied to the engine. This can cause an increase in unburned fuel that becomes soot residue. Soot can build up on the tips of the spark plugs, making them unable to produce a proper spark. In return, the car may move sharply, idle, and in some circumstances, the engine may fail.

A clogged air filter can be avoided by changing the air filter approximately every 12,000 miles, depending on driving habits. If you know where your air filter is located (you can refer to your owner's manual for where to look), you can do a visual inspection. Car air filters are designed to ensure an even and clean air flow in the engine, which aids in the combustion process. In addition to extraneous noises, your vehicle can also vibrate excessively, since not enough air is released from the air-fuel ratio.

Running your car without an air filter allows dirt, leaves, debris, insects, and a multitude of air pollutants to enter. Changing just the air filter can disrupt the way a car's engine works with the gearbox and transmission. Over time, as dust and dirt build up, the air filter will darken and dirt will be noticeable. You're going to have a lot of stop-and-start driving, which places more demands on your car and will also make your air filter dirty faster.

Also, installing any aftermarket performance filter on your car won't necessarily do it fast. Make sure your mechanic checks the air filter when you leave your car for service and follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding replacing the air filter. If the engine air cleaner is clogged, the correct amount of airflow will not be able to reach the combustion chamber and you may hear bursting, sputtering, or coughing noises. A clean air filter is designed to capture dirt and debris from outside air, preventing them from reaching the combustion chamber and reducing the likelihood that you will receive a large repair bill.

Here are some tips to help you understand air filters and how they can affect the performance of your car. Failure to close the filter housing properly could cause air to enter the housing that is not properly filtered. Many mechanics or dealers will allow you to purchase the filter on your own and take it with you for installation.

Elisa Michocki
Elisa Michocki

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