What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Air Filter

Table of Contents

An ATV engine air filter is recommended to be replaced after every one year of use. It is necessary because a dirty or a bad air filter denies the engine from getting clean air for a smooth run.

Most ATV owners frequently ask, what are the symptoms of a bad air filter? You need to recognize and remember the signs. It may cause further damages to the engine if you carry on with a bad air filter for long.

A vehicle engine runs when air and gasoline are combined inside the combustion chamber. An ideal amount of clean air is required for the process to succeed. What an air filter does is that it allows clean air to flow inside, keeping all the dirt, debris, and leaves out.

The dirt, debris, and leaves damage the engine critically. Over time and many uses, the air filter is bound to get dirty. Such a filter would cause a lack of air inside and leave your vehicle with poor performance.

Though it is said that an air filter should be changed after 10000 to 15000 miles run, but if you drive around dusty places, you should check the engine and the engine air filter more often. If you know the symptoms of a dirty air filter, you can always keep your ATV engine fresh and running.

Video Credit: Rocky Mountain ATV MC

How to tell if your ATV air filter needs replacing 

Your ATV engine filter is bound to get dirty because of its operating functions. It helps by keeping dirt and debris away from your engine and ensuring a smooth flow of clean air. There are some dirty air filter symptoms, and you need to learn all these signs for the safety and maintenance of your vehicle.

Declining engine performance:

A clogged air filter would cause engine misfires. Unburnt fuel enters the engine as there seems lack of clean air supply. In this case, the spark plug fails to provide the required spark. This situation results in rough jerks and also difficult starts.

  • Noisy engine

You should be used to the sound your ATV engine typically makes. But sometimes, you may hear popping or coughing sounds and experience unusual vibrations. This is a symptom of a dirty air filter when the filter has damaged a spark plug. A timely replacement of the air filter can save you the cost of a spark plug too.

  • Reduced acceleration 

Your ATV is supposed to respond quickly when you press the acceleration. If there is not enough clean air inside the combustion chamber, there will be vibrations, and the response will be slower when pressing down. A bad air filter restricts clean air from getting inside, and that results in lacking acceleration.

  • Poor fuel economy

Vehicles usually face the problem of excessive fuel consumption due to dirty air filters—lack of clean air results in the engine consuming more fuel. So when you notice that your fuel economy is deteriorating, it is time you replace the engine air filter. This is a symptom of a bad air filter in the old carbureted cars mostly produced before the 1980s. In newer cars or ATVs, the fuel economy does not get hampered much.

  • Black smoke from the tailpipe

If the air that flows inside is not clean, the gas does not burn properly. The unburnt gas then comes out of the exhaust pipe as black, sooty smoke. It is undoubtedly an environmental hazard. And it is also a dirty air filter symptom because the filter cannot let clean air inside, thus causing black smoke.

  • Dirty air filter

A clean and brand new air filter appears to be white or off-white in color. After driving for many miles and many days, the engine air filter starts to get dirty. You will find it clogged with dirt and debris and will seem to be blackening. Sometimes the inner layer of the filter would catch dirt, and you may not be able to see it very easily. So it would be best if you inspected it by yourself or let your mechanic do it. You can surely guess by the sight of the filter if it needs replacement.

  • Blinking check engine light

If there is not enough supply of air in the combustion chamber, there can be carbon deposits in the engine which will cause the check engine light to blink. Usually, for every gallon of fuel consumed, almost 10000 gallons of clean air is required. And the supply of air can be inadequate due to a bad air filter. If the light is on, let your mechanic check your vehicle for the reason.

  • Smell of gasoline

Another indication of a bad air filter is the smell of gasoline when the smoke is coming out of the exhaust pipe. An inadequate supply of oxygen creates unburnt fuel, and you may smell gasoline with the smoke. This is another clear symptom of a bad air filter.

Air Filter

Why change the ATV air filters regularly

It is a necessity that you change the engine air filter of your ATV regularly. The air filter is responsible for the supply of clean air inside your engine. With clean air, the engine gets oxygen. The more oxygen there is, the better the fuel economy is. Also, dirt, debris, leaves, and various bugs get caught in the filter. These are severely harmful to the engine to run. A dirty air filter causes black smoke to come out. So you should check the air filter more often for the symptoms that present the filter as a bad one. And change it whenever it is necessary to keep your engine and vehicle healthy.

How to change the ATV engine air filter

When you notice the symptoms of a dirty air filter, you can try and change the air filter of your ATV. It is not a challenging task to replace the air filter of your vehicle engine by yourself. You won’t have to get professional help every time you change your ATV air filters.

You can simply locate the air filter housing under the hood. Using the appropriate tool, you can open the top of the housing and take the old filter out. You would be able to guess if the filter is dirty enough and needs a replacement.

You will have to carefully clean the inside of the housing and put the new air filter inside. Then close the top of the housing. And you will be done with an easy and money-saving task.

The engine of your vehicle is very crucial to be fit all the time. The air filter provides most of the protection to your engine. During a rough ride around dusty and dirty trails, the air filter is bound to work the most out of itself for the best security.

Keeping the air filter clean and replacing it from time to time is a key task. The filters do not come as very expensive. You have come to know by now what are the symptoms of a bad air filter. So keep your vehicle and especially the engine in check. Keep an eye for the symptoms, and if you see any significant problems, that means the air filter needs a replacement.