Replacing a clogged air filter can significantly improve the performance of your car, depending on the make and model. High flow air filters are a great option as they don't need to be changed as often as regular filters, and they offer better airflow and filtration. Installing a cold air intake unit with the filter can increase horsepower by 3 to 5 HP and improve fuel efficiency. The car cabin air filter in your vehicle's ventilation system is used to filter dust, allergens, mold, particles, and sometimes even odors from the air entering the passenger compartment of the car.
Worn or dirty air filters will cause your engine to malfunction, leading to less power and weaker acceleration. High-performance air filters are considered a modification and can void your warranty if you have a new vehicle that is still within the warranty period. If you are coughing and sputtering, or if you vibrate excessively when you turn the engine, you are most likely ordering a new air filter. For most vehicles, it's not a necessity to install a high-performance air filter, as the engine is designed to work perfectly without the additional airflow.
However, if you drive with a lot of traffic on a regular basis, the air filter won't last that long. If you know where your air filter is located (you can refer to your owner's manual for where to look), you can do a visual inspection. The most obvious benefit of changing your air filter is the increased fuel efficiency you'll see after you change it. Over time, as dust and dirt build up, the air filter will darken and dirt will be noticeable. Some manufacturers of newer car models have changed the engine design to make more efficient use of space, and sometimes that means placing air filters in more difficult to reach places, which can slow down the process.