What Are the Consequences of Putting the Wrong Air Filter in Your Car?

Learn about what happens when you put a wrong air filter in your car: decreased fuel economy, block overheating & more! Find out how to prevent this from happening & keep your car's engine running smoothly.

What Are the Consequences of Putting the Wrong Air Filter in Your Car?

The engine air filter is designed for your vehicle, and if dirt seeps through the wrong filter, it can cause serious damage. It can chop and scratch the cylinders, leading to block overheating, cracking, or even seizure. Additionally, a bad or dirty air filter restricts air flow and reduces oxygen in the mixture, resulting in decreased fuel economy. If an air filter doesn't work as it should, it could be letting dirt, dust particles, and other contaminants into the engine, which could cause damage.

Regularly replacing the air filter and checking it helps reduce the risk of this happening in the near future. Several companies make high-quality air filters that prevent up to 99 percent of dust and dirt from entering the engine for up to 12,000 miles. While this rarely causes permanent damage, neglecting the air filter long enough can cause the engine to stop working completely. If you find that your air filter needs a change, it is advisable to also check the condition of the spark plugs to see if they have also suffered any damage.

If you suspect that the air filter has become dirty or blocked, you can take your car to the local mechanic or check it yourself. Not all air filters are created equal; it's important to get a quality air filter designed to fit your particular vehicle. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the air filter every 12,000 miles (approximately 19,000 km) or every 12 months, whichever comes first. To prevent this from happening, it's important to understand everything you need to know about your car's air filter and how to keep it working at its best.

Something as simple as an air filter can cause everything from harmful emissions, fuel waste, damaged spark plugs and engine buildup. If you notice unusual noises, in particular a coughing, clicking or spitting noise, this suggests that the engine is not receiving enough airflow, which means that the air filter needs to be replaced. The air entering the system tends to contain contaminants such as dirt, sand, worn tire particles, dust and pollen, so it needs to pass through an air filter which traps these contaminants and allows clean air to pass to the engine. Improper filter installation or incorrect filter installation can leave the engine exposed to dirt and debris. When the air filter becomes too dirty, it will clog and the engine will not be able to draw enough air into the combustion chamber.

A visual inspection of your air filter in bright light will show a lot of dirt but not all tiny particles can be easily seen. When the engine air intake is not completely covered by a filter element, significant damage can occur.