When you think you might have an air filter problem, there are a few things you can do. If you’re certain it is an air filter problem, the best thing to do is replace it right away. If you’re not sure, then at least try cleaning it out with a few cups of water and vinegar mixed together. If it doesn’t help, replace it anyway. A dirty air filter can cause many problems for your vehicle, including reduced gas mileage and higher carbon dioxide emissions. If left unaddressed, dirty air filters can even lead to more serious problems such as damage to your engine or an exhaust system that is not properly protecting your vehicle’s exhaust system from being damaged by harmful emissions. If you suspect that your air filter is dirty, here are some things you can try before replacing it altogether:

Know which type of filter your vehicle needs.

Most vehicles come with a standard air filter that can easily be identified by looking at the engine. If the filter is discolored or has a strange smell, it’s probably time for a new one. If you’re not sure, you can usually find the filter in your owner’s manual, or you can pull up to the filter inside your car and look at it.

Check the filter’s condition.

If you’re not sure if the filter needs replacing, try looking at it closely. A dirty filter will usually have a build-up of dust and dirt on one or both sides of the mesh. You may also notice a foul smell coming from the filter, which is usually caused by bacteria that has had enough time to grow. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to replace the filter. If you don’t notice any of these signs, it’s possible that the filter is clean and just dirty enough to be a little bit inefficient.

Clean your filter with water and vinegar.

If you think your filter is dirty but you can’t see any build-up, you can try cleaning it out with water and vinegar. This is a great way to clean out a filter that you think is dirty but can’t see any build-up. Just be careful not to overdo it, or you could damage your filter. If you do use this method, make sure to rinse the filter out thoroughly. You can also try soaking it in vinegar for about an hour, but be sure to change out the water and vinegar every few hours.

Check for leaks and cracks.

If your filter is old and dirty, it could have a few leaks and cracks that could cause problems. Leaks can be a bit tricky to find. If you have a small amount of liquid coming out of your filter, it could be a sign of a crack. If you see a lot of liquid coming out, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. If you see a lot of liquid, it’s best to replace the filter. Cracks can also cause leaks, but they are less obvious. If you notice a lot of condensation on your filter, it could be a sign of a crack.

Check for foreign objects.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you still think your filter is dirty, check for foreign objects. You can use a small brush to clean out your filter. If you find a large piece of debris, it’s best to replace the filter.


Even though an air filter may seem like a small part of your car, it’s an important part that needs to be cared for properly. A dirty air filter can lower your gas mileage, cause excess carbon dioxide emissions, and even damage your exhaust system. If you notice that your air filter is dirty, it’s best to replace it right away. You can clean out an old filter with water and vinegar, or you can replace it with a new one. If you’re not sure if your filter is dirty, you can check for leaks and cracks, or you can check for foreign objects.

Frequently Asked Question

You should change your air filters every 90 days. However, if you have allergies, you better change them after 45 days. It also depends on the MERV rating of the filters you are using. On average, it is highly recommended to change your air filters every 90 days. 
Yes, it does. There are many types of air filters and their performance is based on their material and most of the time their MERV rating. Choosing the best one will make a huge impact on how long your HVAC system will last.
HVAC air filters have different variations depending on their quality and sizes. Most HVAC manufacturers would recommend buying a new air filter that is compatible with HVAC. These air filters have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV which will tell you their overall performance in filtering contaminants in the air.
Most likely it will not filter the air properly. Dust will accumulate on your filter thus affecting some parts of your Air Conditioning unit. Aside from not being able to work properly in filtering the air, it will damage the system of your AC, because the airflow is affected.