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6 Dangers of a Clogged Air Filter to your Vehicle’s Engine

6 Dangers of a Clogged Air Filter to your Vehicle’s Engine

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An air filter can make a significant difference to your vehicle engine’s performance. A clean and properly installed air filter improves fuel economy, prolongs the engine’s life, boosts acceleration, and lowers the emission of harmful gases. These are impressive benefits of an engine component that are often overlooked.

Your internal combustion engine should mix about 10,000 liters of air with every liter of fuel to work efficiently. The air enters the engine through the air filter. With insufficient air intake, the resulting fuel mixture is likely to be too fuel-rich, which means it won’t burn effectively. In this case, the engine will be starved of the oxygen it desperately needs.

Many manufacturers and engine experts recommend replacing an air filter every 19,000 km (approximately 12,000 miles) or every year. However, you may want to consider replacing the air filter frequently if you live in a region with a lot of impurities and dust.

What are the dangers of a clogged air filter to your engine?

Have you ever thought about how a clogged air filter could affect your vehicle’s engine? Engines, just like humans, appreciate breathing clean air. Whether it’s a fun dirt-bike engine, lawnmower motor, or turbocharged monster in sports coupes, every engine type requires a functional air filter that lets insufficient and clean air. Here’s how this lesser-known engine component plays a crucial role in your vehicle’s engine health.

1. Chocking engine performance

With each intake stroke, the cylinder inhales air. Compression combines oxygen with fuel, resulting in tiny, controlled explosions. On the exhaust stroke, the engine releases nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor which are even hotter than the inhaled air. Your engine needs a functional air filter to keep insects, dust, and other particles from getting into the cylinders.

Note that your vehicle’s engine breathes in plenty of air, which means the air filter will eventually accumulate whatever debris and dust are floating around. With time, a dirty air filter is likely to let in less air or choke your engine.

With each revolution, an engine requires sufficient air. A dirty, clogged air filter slows down the flow of air in and out of the engine. As it continues to collect more debris and dust, airflow slows down, and this could hinder the engine’s ability to generate enough power and torque. Even if you are a spirited driver, a dirty or clogged air filter will definitely drag you down.

2. Collapsed air filter

Probably the worst thing a clogged air filter can do to your vehicle is collapse. Think of it as a collapsed lung. If this happens, your engine’s air filter will likely pull away from the seal or disintegrate. Either way, a collapsed air filter spells disaster for your engine’s health.

An unsealed air filter allows unfiltered air (which contains dust, debris, and nearly anything else) into your engine. Airborne particles foul sensors and injectors and accelerate wear. This could lead to poor compression, oil burning, oil leaks, fuel trim problems, cylinder misfires, and more. In the worst-case scenario, these issues could become the check engine light to ignite or illuminate.

3. Strange engine noise

When your vehicle is stationary or idling, you should hear the smooth vibrations of a functional engine. The moment you notice an unusual noise such as popping, spitting, or coughing noise, there is a chance your engine is not getting sufficient airflow. This is a common problem associated with dirty or clogged air filters and needs to be addressed immediately.

A dirty air filter reduces airflow into the engine, changing the air-fuel mixture. The resulting fuel-rich mixtures generate more black soot residue, which covers spark plugs. The strange noise is generated when the spark plugs aren’t firing effectively due to this soot. Keep in mind that dirty spark plugs can cause misfiring and challenges when starting your vehicle.

4. Decreased fuel economy

The impact of a clogged or dirty air filter extends beyond just strange engine noise and choking performance. Improper airflow in and out of the engine lowers the level of oxygen in the fuel-oxygen mixture. Engines generally compensate for the decreased oxygen by consuming more fuel to generate sufficient power to move the same speed or distance as the vehicle could with a clean, functional air filter. So, a decreasing fuel economy could be a sign of a dirty or clogged air filter.

5. Flames or black smoke in the exhaust

Insufficient air supply means that the engine is likely to be burning on a fuel-dominant mixture, which will not burn entirely before it enters the exhaust and leaves the vehicle as a black residue (soot). You can see this residue as black smoke. Sometimes, the heat in the exhaust could ignite the unburnt fuel and cause popping noise or flame at the exhaust.

6. Petrol smell in the exhaust

Do you smell petrol when starting your vehicle? If so, it’s because there is insufficient air entering the vehicle’s fuel injection system, and the unburnt fuel exits the vehicle via the exhaust pipe. The best way to deal with this issue is to clean the air filter or get it replaced.

Keep your engine’s air filter clean.

Protecting the engine against dust, debris, and other contaminants is undoubtedly the crucial air filter function. This lesser-known engine component serves as an essential barrier against anything that could contaminate your vehicle’s engine. Remember, the engine has many sensitive parts. Once the air filter gets too filthy or clogged, it can no longer serve its purpose. Jerkiness, sluggishness, and pollution-producing black smoke are some of the issues you expect if your vehicle’s air filter is dirty.

Fortunately, air filter maintenance or replacement (when necessary) prevents congestion and “breathing” restrictions in the engine. Our Air Filter Blaster is a revolutionary method for air filter cleaning that could help reduce fuel consumption, ensure efficient engine performance, lower the cost of engine maintenance, and increase your engine life. Check it out here.