Cleaning your dirt bike’s air filter is essential as it keeps your bike’s engine healthy. But, cleaning it without maintaining proper procedure will be worthless.
Therefore, to clean the air filter correctly, you need to remove the filter first and inspect for any damage or slit on it. If the filter is damage-free, clean it with a filter cleaner solution, wash it in warm soapy water, dry and apply grease, and finally, reattach the cleaned filter back to its place.
Now, if you are looking for an easy step-by-step how to clean a dirt bike air filter guideline, you’ll definitely find this write-up helpful. So, let’s go straight to the detailed steps.
How to clean a dirt bike air filter: Step-by-step procedure
Cleaning a dirt bike air filter is not a complex task. It can be done very easily by following some straightforward steps below. But before going to the steps, knowing the tools is takes precedence:
Things needed for cleaning an air filter
To clean an air filter of a dirt bike, you’re going to need the followings-
- Clean rag
- Filter oil
- Contact cleaner
- Turpentine or any proprietary cleaner
- Dish soap or detergent
- Ziplock bag
Steps To Follow:
Removing the air filter
To start with the process, first, you need to remove the filter from the bike. Pull the seat to have access to the air filter. You have to be very careful not to drop any dirt inside when you pull out the filter. Unscrew the air filter and pull it out.
It is definitely a good idea to inspect and clean the airbox after removing the filter. Use a contact cleaner to spray and wipe it with a clean rag.
Inspect the filter
After removing it from the bike, inspect the filter for any kind of damage. If there are any tears or split seams, throw the foam away because the filter will not filter the air properly and might damage the engine. Instead, buy a new filter and install it directly on the bike. You don’t want to waste your time on something you’re throwing out.
On the other hand, if the filter is looking good, proceed to the next step.
Applying the cleaner
The next step is to break down the existing filter oil in the air filter. To do that, take a bucket or any container and fill it with filter cleaner or any proprietary cleaner (like turpentine, kerosene etc.). Throw the filter in the cleaner, submerge it and let it soak for a couple of minutes.
After a while, wash it out and squeeze out the cleaner and dirt as much as possible. Never twist the filter because that might damage the foam. Rinse the filter until it’s clean.
I do not recommend using Gasoline to clean the filter. It will clean the oil, but in return damage the foam by breaking down the cells and glue that binds the foam strips together.
Washing in warm soapy water
After cleaning it in the filter cleaner, you’ll need to wash the filter with soap and water. I recommend using dish soap and warm water. Apply some dish soap on the filter, gently rub it and wash it in warm water. This will rinse out any excess solvent and leftover dirt on the filter.
After that, dry the filter under the sun and leave it overnight if possible. When the foam is dry, prepare it for re-oiling.
Re-oiling with fresh oil
Take a zip lock bag, put the filter in, and pour some oil onto it. Give the filter a good squeeze and massage it until the color changes into the oil’s color. Add more if there is any dry area and ensure perfect coverage.
Squeeze out the excess oil and make sure the oil is evenly spread throughout the filter.
Cleaning the filter cage
Before putting the filter back on its cage, cleaning is important. Simply spray some contact cleaner on the surface of the cage and wipe any dirty spots you see clean using a rag.
Caging the filter and greasing
After cleaning the filter cage, install the cell in the filter and align according to the alignment. Get the grease and add it around the edges of the filter. This step is done to ensure a good and strong seal around the surface of the airbox.
Re-installing the filter
Now that everything is clean and freshly oiled, the filter is ready to be put back in. Carefully hold the filter on the cage and put it back into the airbox. Place it and make sure everything is lined properly before screwing the filter.
There, you have a clean air filter ready to do its job inside your dirt bike.
Symptoms that indicate the bike’s air filter needs cleaning
Knowing when to clean the air filter is not as easy as cleaning a dirt bike carburetor. But some signs suggest that it is time for cleaning the filter. The air filter most definitely needs cleaning when-
- There is a decrease in your gas mileage. If the air is dirty, the engine will not get enough to work properly. So, it will work harder, and gas mileage will start to drop.
- The engine is making an unusual sound. When the engine does not get enough air or sucks in dirt particles with the air, the engine uses more power to work, and this pressure may result in unusual sounds.
- The filter looks dark and dirty. Most air filters come in light colors and get darker over time by filtering all the dirt and debris from the air. If you see that the filter looks dark and dirty, then you know that the filter needs cleaning.
- There is black smoke coming from the inside. Insufficient air supply may result in incomplete fuel burn, which will lead to producing black smoke and popping sound.
If you encounter any of these symptoms, check right away and clean the filter or replace it if needed to keep both your bike and engine healthy.
What kind of air filter is the best one to use?
There are three kinds of dirt bike air filters – Paper, Foam, and Cotton made. Paper air filters are inexpensive and disposable, and they do not require cleaning. On the other hand, Foam and Cotton made air filters are washable but not as cheap as paper ones.
Paper filters do just fine, but some say that this kind does not prevent EVERYTHING from entering the engine. Considering the case, Foam and Cotton filters perform better and last longer. These two types may cost a bit much, but they are worth the price.
I personally would like to recommend the foam ones because this type is straightforward to install and clean. The dirt comes off easily with a regular air filter cleaner and dries off quickly. So, if you ask me, I’d choose the foam air filter for my dirt bike.
How often should you clean the air filter?
There is no particular time for the cleaning; it depends on how often the bike is being ridden. The more you ride the bike, the more the filter gets dirty. If you regularly ride it on a sandy or dusty road, the filter will get dirty quickly and need cleaning more often.
It is recommended that you clean the filter between every ride up to 10000 miles.
To end with…
Air is critical for an engine to work, and the filter allows clean and safe air for that to happen. Keeping the air filter clean means keeping the engine fit.
Hope you’ll find the write-up on how to clean a dirt bike air filter convenient. Don’t leave the filter uncleaned for a long time. Cleaning the air filter regularly will keep your bike’s engine healthy and will give the bike a chance for a long and trouble-free ride.