What Does the Dirty Air Filter Warning Light Mean?

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Internal combustion engines require a decent amount of air in order to keep themselves running. Unfortunately, things like dust and pollen in the air are not good for your engine. This is where the air filter is essential in collecting any debris floating in the air and preventing it from getting inside your engine.

Over time, all the collected debris will clog up the filter reducing airflow into the engine which in turn reduces performance. To help maintain your vehicle, the computer monitors the amount of air going through the filter and into the engine. If it detects reduced airflow going into the engine, the computer warns the driver with a light on the dash.

What the dirty air filter warning light means

This dashboard light only has one function, to warn the driver of reduced airflow into the engine. If this light comes on, you should have the air filter replaced or at least inspected. Once the filter is replaced, you may need to turn the warning light off using a reset button. Refer to the owner’s manual of your car or perform an online search to find the location of the button.

If a new filter and resetting the button doesn’t turn the light off, then there is likely a connection issue somewhere that is throwing a false positive. Have a certified technician inspect and test the connections and wires associated with the air filter minder.

Is it safe to drive with the dirty air filter warning light on?

Yes, this light indicates reduced airflow which should only affect your gas mileage and performance. You can still use the car normally, but you will need to get the filter replaced at the earliest. Lower gas mileage makes the car more expensive to run so keeping the air filter maintained can help you keep money in your wallet.

Your vehicle’s manual should tell you how often the filter should be replaced so you have idea of when you’ll need to replace it. If you’re experiencing any issues with your air filter, enlist one of our certified technicians to help you diagnose the problem and replace it.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
648 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Jose, California
If I could give 6 stars out of 5 I would. Very friendly and accomodating. Please retain and take care of Pardeep.
Honda Odyssey - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Jose, California
Great service. Timely, efficient, and friendly. Also gave good advice on services I actually needed.

Andrew

14 years of experience
236 reviews
Andrew
14 years of experience
Ford Escape - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Portland, Oregon
Andrew has come to fix my car on two occasions and both times he was on time for the appointment, professional , and extremely thorough in his examination of my car and diagnosis. He is honest and straightforward as to what my vehicle actually needs done immediately, and what I can hold off on for awhile. Money can be tight sometimes, so I do appreciate that. I highly recommend this mechanic!

Christopher

19 years of experience
152 reviews
Christopher
19 years of experience
Honda Pilot - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Land O Lakes, Florida
Would book again. On time, knowledgeable and friendly. Will definitely have him on my next appointment.

Theodore

15 years of experience
1132 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

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