How to Clean Dirt Bike Air Filter – Helpful Tips

Dirt bikes are off-road specific vehicles that come with a supply of adrenaline and adventure packed into a single frame. These bikes do not come with any mirrors, brake lights, or headlights. Instead, they are equipped with a stiff suspension and a small engine to help you effortlessly soar in the sky over sand dunes or jump over muddy trails.

Much like in the name, a dirt bike is often used on sandy or muddy trails, which is where the role of the air filter comes into play. The air filter on your dirt bike is one of the essential elements of maintaining a healthy engine and giving your dirt bike a long life.

how to clean my dirt bike air filter
How to clean my dirt bike air filter

This guide discusses the importance of an air filter in a dirt bike and how you can clean it the right way for a smooth and enjoyable bike ride every time.

Let’s dive right in!

What Does An Air Filter Do?

The air filter in a dirt bike prevents pebbles, dirt, sand, and other small things from getting sucked in as you ride along on different kinds of terrain, such as sand or mud.

This protects your dirt bike engine by helping it stay cool and maintain a long life. If you damage your road bike engine, it can cost you a lot to get it fixed or replaced.

What Happens If A Dirt Bike Has A Dirty Air Filter?

A dirty air filter can cause several problems in the engine because the built-up dirt and grime stop the air from rushing, which helps cool your engine down. This allows the bike to heat up excessively which can be disastrous for your dirt bike engine in the long run.

Other than that, a dirty air filter can no longer stop debris or dirt particles from getting in your 4-stroke or 2-stroke dirt bike engine.

Do You Have To Clean Your Dirt Bike Air Filter After Every Ride?

The air filter on your dirt bike does not have to be replaced or cleaned after every ride. However, if you are riding through extremely sandy conditions, cleaning it after every ride may be a good idea.

Checking your dirt bike air filter as a regular maintenance practice can keep your engine healthy. This ensures the best performance, especially if you are racing. In a race, it is advisable to have a super clean air filter for superior performance.

If you fail to clean your air filter, it can block up the carburetor and damage the piston. Not only will this affect your dirt bike’s performance, but it will also take away from the enjoyable dirt bike experience.

Cleaning the air filter on your dirt bike is not that hard. If you are riding your dirt bike every day, you should be cleaning your air filter with every maintenance routine.

If you are new to dirt bike riding, you must learn how to clean the air filter in your dirt bike, especially when it’s your first time.

So, How Do You Locate The Air Filter?

The air filter is located under your seat, which is the same for both a dirt bike and an ATV. It is most likely a foam filter, although some dirt bikes also come with paper filters.

If you understand how to clean your dirt bike’s air filter properly, you’ll be able to save yourself from expensive bills in the long run. Not just that, but it will improve your bike’s performance and for a longer period.

Proper air filter maintenance prevents premature engine damage and saves you from expensive repair bills as well as less mileage per hour.

Here is a detailed guide for cleaning a dirty air filter on your dirt bike. Let’s be honest, this is not a challenging job. However, there are some essential steps that you should follow in order to complete this task perfectly.

how to clean your dirt bike air filter
How to clean your dirt bike air filter

What Does The Overall Procedure Include?

  • Step 1: remove the air filter
  • Step 2: inspect the air filter for any defects or tears
  • Step 3: clean the filter
  • Step 4: clean the air box and the filter skeleton
  • Step 5: oil the foam filter
  • Step 6: reinstall the air filter on the dirt bike

It is essential to note that an air filter has a polyurethane on the inside and outside, which you cannot separate from it. If your air filter is defective or damaged it will allow the entry of mud, dust, and dirt particles to enter into the dirt bike engine.

In simple terms, that is completely going to destroy your dirt bike, so let’s begin:

Supplies You’ll Need:

You will need the below things to clean dirt bike air filter:

  • Warm water
  • Cleaning solvent or liquid
  • Mineral turpentine
  • Clean wiping cloth
  • Foam air filter oil
  • Plastic bag
  • Grease (optional)
  • Gloves

Step One: Removing The Air Filter From The Dirt Bike

Remove the seat of your dirt bike so you can expose the air filter that lies in the airbox. Remove the washer and the bolt that holds it in place. Once you remove the bolt, you would be able to completely detach the air filter from the air box.

Since the air filter, it’s pretty dirty and sticky, it is better two wear a pair of gloves before you start removing it.

Make sure you also separate the framework from the air filter used to keep the foam in shape.

Step Two: Inspecting The Air Filter For Defects And Damages

Once you have removed the air filter foam from its frame, you should check it for any damages or defects. The main thing that you should be looking for are tears, defects, or any deteriorating ends.

It doesn’t matter how insignificant a split or a tear may seem. It is advisable to replace the air filter right away. A new air filter for dirt bikes costs anywhere around $20 to $30, which is a price you have to pay to ensure smooth dirt bike performance.

However, if the filter looks like it is in good shape and does not have any damages on its surface, you can move on to the next step. If you do have defects or damages, do not waste any time cleaning it because you would need to throw it out.

Step Three: Cleaning The Air Filter Form

Using mineral turpentine can help you break down the existing filter oil that may be on your air filter. Just drip a little bit of mineral turpentine on your dirty filter and squeeze it thoroughly.

Use water to rinse the foam along with a non-flammable cleaning liquid. There are several air filter cleaners and oil kits available in the market that are meant for this exact purpose.

Once you’ve washed away most of the grime and dirt, wash the foam filter again with soapy water. Using warm water instead of cold water may give you a better result because it helps pull out more dirt.

After thoroughly washing it with soapy water, you should give the air filter a tight squeeze and rinse it to release all access water from the foam. Run it under clean water once again before setting it aside to air dry.

If you want to speed up the drying process, you can run the foam air filter through a washing machine’s spin dryer or strap it in front of a fan. Avoid using a hairdryer or high heat because it can affect the shape of the air filter and melt the glue holding it all together.

Step Four: Clean The Air Box And Foam Filter Frame

While you set the phone aside to dry, it is time to clean the skeleton frame that keeps the foam in place. Even though it might not be as dirty as the air filter itself, it is advisable to wash it with soapy water to get any dirt out of the way.

After cleaning the skeleton frame, inspect the airbox for any damages or defects. If it’s absolutely okay, then wipe it with a cloth to remove any debris or dirt that it may have. Make sure that any further dirt doesn’t enter the airbox while it’s exposed.

Step Five: Oiling The Foam Air Filter

Once the air filter foam is completely dry, you can apply the foam filter oil. The general recommendation is to use anywhere around 1.7 to 1.9 ounces of foam filter oil every time you clean and oil the air filter.

A great way to apply fresh filter oil is to place your drive air filter in a plastic bag. This will contain extra oil drips when you pour it all over the air filter. Once the air filter is completely covered, place the oil thoroughly so that all air filter parts have changed color.

Just remember, you don’t have to drench the air filter in oil, but it should be coated with the oil all the way through. Make sure the foam filter oil is thoroughly spread out so that it does not leak in particular places.

Step Six: Reinstalling The Foam Filter In The Air Box

This is the last step in the cleaning and oiling process. Carefully place the foam filter inside its frame and lock it back into the airbox. You would need to tighten down the bolt to hold the air filter back in place.

Adding a bit of grease to the surface before installing the filter can be a good idea to keep everything running smoothly. However, this step is optional.

how often to clean dirt bike air filter
How often to clean dirt bike air filter

How Often Should You Be Cleaning Your Dirt Bike Air Filter?

The number of times you should be cleaning your air filter depends on how much you are using your dirt bike. Cleaning your air filter after each ride may be appropriate in some situations, but it could be a hassle or an unnecessary expenditure.

Let’s say, you are taking laps on sand dunes for several hours, then you would definitely have to clean out your dirt bike’s air filter after the ride. However, if you just took off for a simple ride up a hill or a mountainous terrain that wasn’t as dusty or muddy, you can definitely leave your air filter to be used as it is for the next ride.

A great method is to keep two superior-quality air filters in your maintenance kit. One should be in your dirt bike, while the other should be clean and ready to use for the next ride. There are several twin air filter packs available in the market which are a good investment especially if you use your dirt bike often.

On average, you should be cleaning your dirt bike filter after every two to four rides. Then again, it depends on how dusty, muddy, or dirty your terrain is. Other than this, if you are riding in excessive rain, then of course you would have to clean your air filter more often to keep your dirt bike running smoothly.

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The Bottom Line

If you own a dirt bike, then you know that it almost always comes with a hefty price tag. Hence, protecting the engine should always be your top priority.

Cleaning or replacing your dirt bike air filter is a crucial step that you have to take to ensure your dirt bike keeps performing till the very end. These machines are built for long-term enjoyment – only if you take care of them properly. Since an air filter is a direct pathway to the engine, cleaning and servicing it is almost inescapable.