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5 ATV Air Filter Change Tips

A group of ATVs lined up and ready to roll.

Keeping your ATV air filter clean is an essential part of regular maintenance. The air filter might not seem particularly important, but if it’s full of dirt and debris, then the engine will run poorly. If you ignore the air filter long enough, you could even damage your engine.

To help you avoid these outcomes and keep your engine ready to go, here are five tips for changing your ATV air filter.

1. Check Your Filter RegularlyATVs on Trail

Don’t just assume the air filter is fine because you haven’t noticed any issues — check it regularly. How often? At a minimum, you should check the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, which you can find in the owner’s manual.

Another general rule is to change an ATV air filter after about 50 hours of use, but if you ride in especially sandy or muddy conditions, then you may want to check it more often. Making a habit of checking the air filter every time you change your oil is another good way to remember.

2. Is It Paper or Foam ?

Most ATVs these days have foam air filters, but some are still made of paper. Both do the same job, but they’re not cleaned in the same way. A foam filter can be cleaned with an air filter cleaning solution and water. A paper filter, on the other hand, cannot be submerged and must be replaced. In a pinch on the trail you can brush it off or blow air across it to loosen any debris, but it will need to be replaced regardless. Make sure you know what kind of filter is in your ATV so you can gather the right cleaning supplies before you start.

3. Wear Appropriate Safety Gear

It’s important to protect your hands from the solution used to clean a foam filter. A pair of plastic gloves will do the trick. It’s also important to protect your eyes from any potential splash back. This goes for cleaning paper filters as well, as loose debris that becomes airborne could get in your eyes.

4. Don’t Wring out Your Air Filter

Twisting an air filter to remove water will ruin the filter, as it can cause the foam to wear and even create small tears. Instead, squeeze it firmly to remove excess water. However, once the water is removed, be sure to stop there to avoid damaging the filter. Next, set the filter where it can dry thoroughly. Once it’s dry, you can apply an air filter oil and squeeze out any excess oil, but do not wring the filter.

5. Clean the Air Filter Box

Why take the time to clean the filter only to shove it back into a dirty air filter box? Before you re-secure your clean air filter, clean out the box with a little soapy water and a rag to remove any dirt and grime. Be sure to give it time to dry before you replace the filter.

Remember to clean your ATV air filter regularly to prevent damage and keep your engine in top working order.

Check out all the products for cleaning an ATV air filter available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about how to clean your ATV air filter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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