Mechanic holding a new air filter

When Should I Replace the Air Filter in My Car?

How Often Should an Air Filter Be Changed in a Vehicle?

Occasionally, drivers will need to replace the air filter in their car. Air filters are helpful for preventing environmental debris like dirt, sand, and dust from reaching your engine. Over time, the air filter will collect too much debris and cause your vehicle’s performance to be negatively impacted if it isn’t replaced. Experts recommend that drivers should replace the air filter in their vehicle once every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. If you aren’t sure when you changed your air filter last, here are some symptoms to watch for.

[ READ MORE: How Often Should I Replace My Brakes? ]

Person holding a dirty air filter

Air Filter is Dark in Color

New air filters are white or off-white in color and will darken over time as debris is collected. If your air filter appears dark and dirty, it’s time to replace it with a new one.

Poor Vehicle Performance

Your engine needs air to properly function. When your air filter gets too dirty, air cannot pass through as well as it should. As a result, you may notice your vehicle jerking when you apply the gas.

Mechanic replacing an air filter in a car

Black Smoke Leaving Your Exhaust Pipe

Air filters not only prevent debris, but they also help your vehicle consume fuel properly. When your engine isn’t receiving enough air, you may see black smoke leaving your exhaust pipe.

Your Check Engine Light Turns On

While your “Check Engine” light can indicate a variety of problems, a bad air filter is a possible cause. When this warning light turns on, take your vehicle to a mechanic immediately so they can diagnose the problem and fix the issue.

Looking for more tips and tricks on taking care of your vehicle? Explore the U.S. Auto Sales blog! If you are shopping for an affordable vehicle you can depend on, browse our current pre-owned vehicle inventory online.