All cars have air filters. They are designed to prevent dirt, dust, and other contaminants from entering your car’s engine. However, they can be dirty and clogged over time. In this case, its capacity to filter air becomes reduced and may cause a number of issues. As such, it is important that you get into the habit of replacing your air filter.

Depending on how your drive your car, air filters should be changed every 12 months or every 12,000 miles. But sometimes, your car gives off some signs that may alert you that the air filter is clogged and may need changing. Becoming aware of these signs will help you determine whether your car filter needs to be replaced.

Here are 4 sings it’s time to replace your car air filter.

Air filter appears dirty

Dirt, dust, and other debris can accumulate in your air filter over time. Visually inspect your air filter to see if it’s dirty. Generally, new air filters are either white or off white. If the air filter turns out gray or is full of dust and debris, it needs replacing.

Dirty air filters are incapable of doing a good job of filtering the air that goes into the engine. This may lead to a number of issues later on. As such, it is best to have it replaced in the soonest possible time.

Check engine light comes on

Check engine lights comes on for a variety of reasons. Dirty air filter is one of the most common causes.

Your car needs a specific amount of air-fuel mixture to perform properly. If your air filter is clogged or dirty, air flow will be blocked. This may lead to a skewed air-fuel ratio, which may set off the check engine light.

Reduced fuel economy

When the air filter is blocked dirt and debris, the engine may not be able to achieve a proper air-to-fuel ration. This usually results in a significant drop in fuel economy. This is especially true for older vehicles with cabureted engines.

Pay attention to your car’s gas mileage. If you notice that your fuel economy is going down, this could be a sign that your car air filter needs replacing.

Strange engine noises

Your car’s engine is likely to produce strange noises when the air filter is dirty. This is because your engine is no longer receiving sufficient airflow. If you hear some coughing or spitting type of noise, it’s time to have your air filters replaced.