Why is Your BMW’s Air Filter Clogged? Learn the Reasons from Experts of Lowellby Mechanics Direct August 21, 2022
Your BMW’s high-powered engine requires air to generate combustion and power the car. Air along roads can be contaminated with dirt, bits of leaves, and debris. These are caught by the air filter, so they don’t clog the engine.
Unfortunately, this air filter can become clogged over time, undermining the performance of your engine and the car as a whole. We’ll take you through the reasons your filter clogs, the signs to watch out for, and how we can help.
Why Your Filter is Clogged
As air enters your engine, contaminants from the air will naturally accumulate in your filter. This is a normal process of wear and tear. The filter needs to be changed periodically, much like the air-conditioning filter in your home.
Different types of cars require different changing intervals. For a BMW, a general rule of thumb is to consider a change every 30,000 miles or every 3 years, whichever comes first.
In addition, certain driving conditions may necessitate more frequent changes. If you frequently drive on dirt roads or in a dusty region, such as the deserts of the Southwest, your engine may take in more debris. You may also need more frequent changes if you often drive through heavy traffic, where you must constantly start and stop.
Symptoms of a Clogged Filter
Luckily, there are several telltale signs that your filter may be clogged:
- Dark Filter Appearance: The first and most obvious sign of a clogged filter is that the filter looks dirty. Engine filters should be white or nearly white. So a darker color is a sign that it is time to change your filter. That being said, dirt may not be visible to the naked eye, even if brightly illuminated. A clean appearance does not guarantee a functional air filter, especially if your car exhibits other symptoms.
- Check Engine Light: Another obvious sign of an engine problem is that your check engine light is on. Inadequate air supply, a result of a clogged filter, can cause carbon to accumulate. The check engine light will warn you of this. Still, other problems may cause the light to turn on, so it is important to take your car to a mechanic, who will likely run a series of tests to determine the problem.
- Reduced Horsepower: If your filter is too dirty, you might struggle to accelerate. In fact, a clean filter can improve horsepower by about 11 percent. You might also notice jerking movements when you press the gas. Changing your filter will ensure that your BMW maintains its thrilling ability to accelerate.
- Difficulty Starting: A lack of air flow can cause unburnt fuel to exit the engine as soot. This soot can contaminate the spark plug, which will then struggle to initiate combustion. You may notice difficulty starting your BMW, engine misfires, and jerking
- Unusual Sounds: If your BMW sounds off, you should consider that a warning. Your car should vibrate smoothly, but excessive vibrations or a “popping” sound may reflect a problem with your spark plug, caused by a dirty air filter.
- Black Smoke or Flames in Exhaust Pipe: A clogged filter can cause incomplete combustion of some fuel. Unburnt fuel will then exit the exhaust pipe, which will emit black smoke. You may also hear a popping sound, or you may even see a flame because heat in the exhaust pipe can cause unburnt fuel to ignite. This is a particularly hazardous condition, both to you and your BMW, and you should get it checked out ASAP.
- Smell of Gas: Finally, unburnt fuel exiting the exhaust pipe might cause you to smell gasoline when starting the car. This is yet another sign that the problem is your filter.
What You Can Do
Clearly, poor filter maintenance can threaten both the functionality of your BMW and the safety of its driver. Luckily, we can help.
Every 3 years, 30,000 miles, or if you notice any of the symptoms above, we would strongly suggest bringing your car to us at Mechanics Direct for a filter change.
We are conveniently located in Lowell, MA, about a half hour Northeast of Boston. Mechanics Direct offers excellent service to areas such as North Chelmsford, Chelmsford, Dracut, Tyngsborough, and Westford. We hope you will keep our experts in mind for your engine filter replacement and for your BMW’s maintenance needs. Call us today.