If you’re reading this post, you have probably just gotten a check engine light after installing a new air filter onto your car. So, what does this light mean? Should you be worried?
When you see the check engine light after air filter change, it usually means you left the mass airflow sensor unplugged during the filter change. If you reconnect the sensor, the warning light will reset itself.
In this article, we have discussed more details about the check engine oil showing up after replacing the air filter, how to reset it, and other helpful info regarding this issue.
Why you see check engine light after air filter change
If your vehicle computer throws the check engine light after you replace the air filter, then you may have forgotten to reconnect the mass airflow (MAF) connector after the replacement process for the new filter.
During the installation process for air filters, you might be forced to disconnect the connector sitting atop the airflow box to gain easy access to the air filter for hassle-free replacement.
If you forget to reconnect this sensor afterward, then the computer will throw an error code at you. Even if you just start the car without cranking it, the engine light will pop up!
Simply turn off your car and reconnect the sensor and the light will turn itself off after the ECM rests itself in days (i.e., if the unplugged sensor was the issue).
You can also clear the code manually if you have a scanning tool or have a mechanic do it for you.
However, we also advise you to have the error codes checked to discover what problem they translate to before clearing them.
Another possible reason you see the check engine light is a dirty connector. If you didn’t discontent the MAF sensor during the filter change, a dirty connector could be the issue. try cleaning the MAF sensor rods and the MAF itself by blowing air to see if it helps clear the light.
You could also have damaged something during the installation process. For instance, you may have broken or cracked the intake hose, causing a vacuum leak. You may also have not put anything back together correctly. All these issues can trigger the check engine light after filter change.
PRO TIP: In future, you don’t have to unplug the MAF sensor when replacing the air filter. Instead, just unscrew the 4 security bolts that hold the box in a closed position and then push the air filter towards the engine (in a manner that you’re slightly compressing the intake tube) and then lift up.
Can a new air filter cause check engine light?
If the air filter is installed correctly, then the check engine light should NOT show up. This is assuming it wasn’t there before you did the filter replacement.
As a matter of fact, regular air filter replacement is a good practice that keeps away contamination that would otherwise trigger check engine light.
That said, if you didn’t put everything back together correctly afterward, a check engine light may show up.
Case in point, if you disconnected the mass airflow sensor and fail to reconnect it back in place, the check engine light will surface when you turn on your car.
Or if you interfered with other components during the replacement, you’ll also have to deal with the check engine light as we have discussed in our previous section.
Once you get a code after filter replacement, it’s advisable to scan it to discover what problem it translates to.
How long does it take for check engine light to go off after air filter change?
If the light was on before the filter change, then it may not go off immediately. Instead, you’ll need to give your car computer time to check all its sensors to ensure they’re in top working conditions.
The light can also reset after a given number of drive cycles—where you tune your car on and off for a given number of times.
For other vehicles, you’ll need to drive your vehicle between 50 to 100 miles for the check engine light to shut off.
Some vehicle owners also reset the code manually with the help of a scanning tool. If the underlying problem has been resolved, then the light will surely go off when cleared.
If you don’t own this tool, you can also have your mechanic clear the code for you.
Should you drive your car with check engine light on after air filter change?
We don’t advise you to drive your car if the check engine light shows up after an air filter change. Unlike what most car owners think, this light is simply a warning light telling you something needs your immediate attention.
A blinking check engine light relays an emergency message of something not working well in your car engine. As such, you don’t want to ignore the light and continue driving your vehicle—this would only cause more damage and cost you heftily in repairs.
So, what should you do if the light illuminates? Assuming you did the filter change on your own, you need to open the hood and confirm you did anything correctly. Ensure you reconnected the airflow sensor and everything else back on after the replacement.
Check that you didn’t damage any of the components during the installation process.
You should also use a scanning tool to pull the error codes that triggered the engine light to help you understand the issue your vehicle has.
What happens if engine air filter is installed wrong?
Installing the wrong air filter can also trigger a check engine light. As you already know, the work of an air filter is to trap dust and debris, which may otherwise affect engine performance and longevity.
Now, if you install the wrong filter, it means it won’t protect your engine. Its frames and the mounting points of your engine won’t match up, leaving big enough gaps for dirt and dust to easily slip by.
When the dirt passes through, it will mix with the oil and get deposited on the walls, cylinder, piston, and any other surrounding surface.
It can then go ahead and scratch the engine surface, lowering the horsepower, causing blow-by, and error codes will be thrown at you, offsetting the check engine.
If not solved on time, this problem can significantly cut short the engine lifespan.
Can a dirty air filter make your check engine light come on?
Absolutely! A dirty air filter can make the check engine light come on. Remember the work of an air filter is to keep undesirable elements away while letting in the power producing air.
That said, a dirty filter means it’s restricted engine air intake. This will disrupt air/fuel mixture inside your car engine.
Needless to mention, this disruption will bring forth many performance problems in your vehicle, thus triggering the check engine light.If you’re experiencing a check engine light after changing your air filter, there could be several reasons behind it. One possible cause is a loose or damaged sensor, which can trigger the check engine light to come on even after the air filter has been changed. However, if you have already checked the sensors and the light is still on, you may want to consider other causes, such as issues with the transmission or battery. Our articles on troubleshooting check engine light issues can provide valuable insights into the problem. For example, if you experience a check engine light after changing your transmission fluid, our article on after transmission fluid change may be helpful. This article covers common causes and solutions for check engine light issues that arise after changing your transmission fluid. Similarly, if you’re experiencing a check engine light after a dead battery, you may want to read our article on after dead battery. This article discusses potential causes and solutions for check engine light issues that arise after a dead battery. Take a look at these articles for expert advice on diagnosing and fixing check engine light issues.
1. Can check engine light came on after replacing air filter
No. If installed correctly, a new air filter cannot cause check engine light. However, most people have a tendency of disconnecting the mass airflow sensor to access the air filter during replacement and forget to reconnect it back. This triggers the check engine light.
2. Will air filter make check engine light come on?
An existing air filter can make check engine light come if it’s dirty. This is because it will restrict air supply to the engine, resulting in a buildup of carbon deposits. These bring about various vehicle performance issues, offsetting the check engine light. To avoid this, we advise you to change your air filter frequently, as per the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.
The check engine light illuminating after you’ve just installed a new air filter in place is a common occurrence. It usually has something to do with an accidentally unplugged mass airflow sensor which you just need to reconnect and the light will go away.
A dirty sensor connector can also trigger the CEL. If you damaged other components during the replacement process, the light may also illuminate. Luckily, you can solve all these issues and clear the check engine light from your dashboard, so you can continue enjoying your ride without any worries.
After reading the above guide, you should be able to understand why the CEL comes on after filter change and how to reset the light correctly.