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How to Clean an ATV Air Filter

Whether you just bought your first ATV or you want to know to take care of the one you already love, you'll need to learn how to clean an ATV air filter to maintain its performance and extend its life. If you want a well-running machine, you must have a clean air filter. Find out everything you need to know here.

Can I clean my air filter myself?

dirty atv air filter

You can fairly easily clean your ATV air filter yourself, and you'll want to do it yourself because it needs to be done frequently.

How often do I need to clean my ATV air filter?

An ATV air filter typically needs to be cleaned every 1-3 rides, depending on your ATV make and model and where you ride it.

Check your owner's manual for general rules about when to clean the air filter. The interval will be measured in riding hours and you'll need to log those. If you struggle to track your riding hours, you can purchase an hour meter. You might want to go this route if you don't ride often.

If you ride your ATV in the sand, you should clean your air filter after every ride, regardless of the general interval. A filterskin will protect your filter from the full brunt of dust.

To keep it simple, you can check your air filter after every ride and see if it looks dirty.

How about the toughest rides?

atv stuck in mud

Hours' long riding, particularly in dusty areas, could max out your filter mid-ride! But you don't have to call it quits. Come prepared with extra filters so you can change your filter, keep riding, and clean them later.

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What can I use to clean my ATV air filter?

ATV air filters can be made of paper or foam and you should purchase an ATV filter cleaner specific to the type you have.

Don't use gasoline or another flammable liquid to clean your ATV filter as they can damage the glue in the filter.

And if you've already heard you need to oil your air filter, don't use motor oil. You'll need a special foam filter oil.

If all this sounds confusing, you can purchase ATV filter cleaning kits containing everything you need.

The steps to cleaning an ATV air filter

clean atv air filter
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Locate the air filter

Clearly, you've got to find the filter before you can clean it. Look no further than right under your seat.

Cleaning a paper air filter

Paper air filters are the simplest. Just take water and your cleaning solvent and gently scrub. You don't want to use any abrasive brushes, forced air, or rough scrubbing. Rinse it thoroughly. When it's clean, let it air dry completely before placing it back in the ATV. Some cleaning kits come with a rack to hold your filter and provide optimum air flow while it dries.

Cleaning a foam air filter

Wear gloves to avoid exposure to toxins and carcinogens, and carefully wash your filter in water and foam filter cleaner. You'll basically want to do little more than gently squeeze the filter to move the water through and eliminate excess water before drying. Make sure you've rinsed it thoroughly. Let it air dry completely before using.

Clean the air box

While your filter is air drying is a great time to clean the air box (the thing you took the filter out of). Place a clean rag in the intake hole so you don't push dirt and objects further into the system. Wipe out any dust or grease and remove any debris or foreign objects from the box.

Oil the foam filter

If you've got a foam air filter, it has to be oiled to collect the dust and debris. Wait for it to be completely dry before oiling. You can either massage the oil directly into the filter with gloved hands or place the filter and oil in a plastic bag and massage or roll the filter around in the oil until it is thoroughly covered. You want even coverage. Filters with many layers will require that you massage the oil into the layers.

Remove heavy deposits of oil, if there are any, and let the filter dry for 30 minutes or as long as it takes for it become tacky.

Apply a little waterproof grease to the sealing rim of the filter and place it in the air box.

You can purchase a pre-oiled foam filter to eliminate this step.

Held up by drying time?

pure atv air filte
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Don't try to speed up the drying time. The filters must air dry and be completely dry before use. That doesn't mean you can't ride though. Purchase extra filters so you change to a fresh one (already oiled, if it's foam) and get back outside. You will need to clean the air box, at least partially, during the change.

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