Once You Become a Mechanic, Watch Out for These Signs a Car’s Air Filter Needs To Be Changed

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Air filters are crucial for keeping contaminants and debris out of a car’s air supply, thus allowing for a cleaner, more efficient burn of fuel. When they start to fail, the very functioning of a car’s engine can change for the worse, making a quick replacement crucial.

Fortunately, there are a few signs that you will likely encounter when faced with a car that needs an air filter replacement, making it fairly straightforward to know when that’s a repair that will need to be done.

Curious about how you can know an air filter will need replacing? Here’s a look at some of the symptoms of a filter that is going bad.

When You Become a Mechanic, Remember That Filter Problems Cause Poor Fuel Economy

When a car’s engine is running correctly, it means a precise mixture of fuel and oxygen is being burned at a consistent rate. A malfunctioning air filter, though, will often cause too little air to get into the mix. Though some modern cars have sensors that can adjust the gas intake to compensate for this, it often happens that the mixture will become unbalanced, leading to an imperfect burn. A car that isn’t burning fuel efficiently will typically go through its tank much more quickly than normal.

If, during your career as an automotive maintenance technician, you encounter a driver whose car is getting much worse fuel economy than normal, it could be a hint that something is up with the air filter. Take a quick look at it and replace it if necessary. If the air filter was the culprit, replacing it will help the car get back to working at full capacity.

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Poor fuel economy could be a sign of a malfunctioning air filter

Automotive Maintenance Technicians Know Filter Issues Can Make Engines Misfire

When there is too little air in the mix, many different parts will be exposed to a greater proportion of fuel than is good for them, which can lead to improper functioning. An important example of this can be seen with spark plugs. Burning too much fuel leads to soot accumulating on the plugs, which hinders their ability to provide the spark necessary for combustion. When this happens, the engine will be more prone to misfiring, and may even have difficulty starting up.

In your training to become a mechanic, you will encounter many different potential causes of engine misfires and difficulty starting—it’s not just air filters that can cause spark plugs to fail in this manner. Just keep in mind, though, that spark plug issues such as this can be indicative of a malfunctioning air filter.

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A malfunctioning air filter can cause spark plugs to degrade, like the example on the left

A Car That Smells Like Gasoline When it Starts Often Has Air Filter Issues

When a car doesn’t have enough air being taken in, it may not burn all of the fuel it takes in. Some of this excess may be expelled down the tailpipe, which can cause the car to emit an aroma of gasoline. It’s an unpleasant, and fairly unsafe, problem.

Fortunately, when the air filter is at fault, correcting the issue will be as simple as popping open the car and swapping out the old filter for a new one. Be sure to follow up and ensure that this does actually fix the problem, though. You don’t want to send a client off with their car continuing to emit a bunch of gasoline!

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