February 01, 2016

How to clean the air filter in your lawn tractor

How to clean the air filter in your lawn tractor.
How to clean the air filter in your lawn tractor.

Dirt is your lawn tractor's enemy. Dirt in the lawn tractor or riding mower air filter can block airflow to the carburetor, and dirt blocking the cooling surfaces can make the engine overheat. Keeping the air moving is simple, but essential.

Your owner's manual has specific instructions and a recommended engine cleaning schedule for your model, but the following steps cover the basics for cleaning the air filter's foam pre-cleaner, air filter and cooling areas. In general, clean the paper filter after 2 or 3 mowing sessions. Wash the foam pre-filter, if your mower has one, after 25 hours of use.

For help diagnosing a problem with your lawn tractor and step-by-step repair guides, see our riding mower repair help.

Remove the filter cover

Work in an area where dirt won't blow or fall into the lawn tractor during this process.

Wipe loose dirt and debris from the area near the filter cover.  

Remove the wing nuts that hold the filter cover in place. Set the cover and wing nuts aside. 

Remove the filters

Before removing the air filter, use a rag to wipe dirt from rubber seal that surrounds the filter. Take care not to push dirt under the air filter element.

Remove the filter and, if present, the foam pre-filter. 

Clean the foam pre-filter

After every 25 hours of operation or once a year—whichever comes first—wash the foam pre-filter in diluted liquid dish detergent and pat it dry with a paper towel or clean rag.

If washing doesn't remove the dirt or if the foam is damaged, order and install a replacement pre-filter.

Clean or replace the paper filter

Tap the paper filter gently on your hand or a flat surface to remove loose dirt.

If the filter is dirty after you tap it, or if the filter is ripped, order and install a replacement filter.

Warning: Don't use compressed air or any petroleum products, such as gasoline, oil or kerosene, to clean the paper air filter paper. They can damage the filter.

Install the filters and cover

Wipe any dirt from the areas that the air filter rubber seal touches.

Install the pre-filter and filter.

Put the air filter cover into position and tighten the wing nuts to secure the cover in place. Don't overtighten.

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