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When To Replace a Car’s Air Filter?


Having a dirty or clogged air filter in a car engine can affect the engine’s performance and eventually shorten its lifespan.

Since air filters are placed inside the car’s engine, it may seem challenging to know when one is required to change a car’s air filter. But in reality, it isn’t as difficult as people make out.

This blog will cover the signs one should look out for to know when to change a car air filter, as well as the different types of air filters that most car owners use today.

Table of Contents
The business potential of car air filters
Signs that a car air filter needs changing
Types of air filters to choose from

The business potential of car air filters

composition of air filters for car engine

The market potential of car air filters may go unnoticed, but this could be a missed opportunity as this industry was valued at USD 4,523 million in 2021.

The rise of automotive manufacturing and most importantly, automotive sales, has corresponded with the growth of automotive air filters as well. After all, more vehicles mean more owners will be changing their filters.

The expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2021-2027 is about 6.37% and this means the value of the automotive air filter market could reach USD 6,550.12 million by 2027

The main reasons behind the popularity of air filters are that they:

Help to reduce polluted emissions

Car air filters ensure clean combustion and avoid the release of black smoke from the vehicle. If the car’s air filter gets clogged, it can end up increasing dirty emissions.

Enhance fuel efficiency and mileage

Because air filters facilitate clean fuel combustion, this also means that car air filters help to decrease minor fuel consumption and this helps in fuel efficiency and mileage.

Sustain the engine’s life

Last but not least, when there is proper combustion and smooth airflow, this means that the car performs better and the engine’s lifelong health will be maintained better for a long time.

Signs that a car air filter needs changing

Below are the five major signs that can indicate the car’s air filter requires replacement:

1. The filter looks dirty

person checking a dirty engine filter

The first and most obvious sign is to inspect the appearance of the air filter. A clean air filter usually has an off-white appearance. However, if it looks dark, this clearly shows that dust and dirt have accumulated on it and the filter requires replacing.

2. Unusual sound in the engine

Since a clean air filter facilitates smooth airflow across the car’s engine, there won’t be any noises or unusual sounds from it. However, if one notices the engine’s sound behaving differently than usual by sputtering and vibrating, then a new air filter is needed.

3. Black smoke emission from the exhaust

smoke coming out from car’s exhaust pipe

Another clear indication is looking at the exhaust pipe and noticing if black smoke is coming out. If an air filter is clogged, this can restrict clean combustion and this can lead to smoke or even, in some circumstances, flames getting emitted from the exhaust.

4. The engine light illuminates

check engine light illuminated on dashboard

Notice the car’s dashboard and if the engine light is on, that signals an issue. As a matter of fact, it can spell a bigger issue when the engine is unable to get sufficient air due to the air filter being clogged and dirty. This clearly indicates that owners should check on their filter and most likely replace it with a new one.

5. Poor car performance

Car owners know best whether their car is performing well or not. They drive them daily after all and if they notice poor engine performance such as problems with the acceleration, increased jerking of the vehicle, and signs of less power in the vehicle, this means that the air filter needs inspection and most likely needs to be replaced.

Types of air filters to choose from

There are different air filters that are used in a car to protect its combustion flow and engine. The three main types of air filters are:

Paper filters

paper air filters for cars

Paper air filters are probably the most commonly used filters in cars mainly due to their affordable price. Moreover, they are ideal for smaller automobiles and compatible to use in locations where dust or pollution isn’t much of a major issue. On the flip side, they aren’t reusable so one may find oneself replacing air filters quite frequently. 

Gauze filters

cotton gauze car air filter

Out of the three types of filters, gauze air filters are probably the most durable option because they are easy to clean. There are also two distinct versions of a gauze filter. One is a synthetic version where it needs appropriate cleaning solutions to keep it clean over the long haul. The other type is the oiled version, which can be maintained for longer distances and needs to be washed every 5,000 miles.

Foam filters

foam filter of the thermal car engine

Foam air filters are typically foam wraps merged with the air filters to provide an extra protective layer to withstand dirt and debris that can affect the car’s combustion system. When it comes to protecting the car’s engine, foam filters are the way to go as the dirt has to travel through the foam layer first before accumulating on the air filter. This is why foam air filters are an ideal choice in locations where there is dense pollution.


Car air filters play a major important role in protecting the car’s engine from pollutants and ensuring smooth engine performance.

This blog has provided five clear signs that car owners can look out for to know when to inspect their air filters and take action to replace them.

Moreover, knowing the different types of car air filters used can help wholesalers and other businesses to bulk on the right products tailored to their specific target market.

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