March 1, 2017

How to replace the air filter on a riding lawn mower

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace the air filter on a riding lawn mower

This DIY riding mower repair guide gives step-by-step instructions for replacing the air filter on riding lawn mowers. The air filter traps dirt from air going into the carburetor. If the air filter is clogged with dirt, the carburetor won't get enough air to mix with the fuel for combustion. A dirty air filter could be the problem if the engine stalls after starting or if it runs rough or sputters. Check the air filter regularly and replace it with a manufacturer-approved replacement part if it’s dirty. While you’re replacing the main air filter, it’s a great idea to install a new foam pre-filter too.

Follow the steps in this repair guide and video to replace the air filter on common Briggs & Stratton engines that power Craftsman, Husqvarna, John Deere, Ariens, Toro, MTD, Troybilt, Murray, Snapper and Cub Cadet riding mowers and lawn tractors.

Quick links
Tools required
Work gloves
Repair difficulty
Time required
15 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
15 minutes or less
Replacing an air filter on a riding lawn mower

This video explains how to replace the air filter on a riding lawn mower.

Instructions

  1. 01.

    Disconnect the spark plug

    Park the tractor on a level surface and set the parking brake.

    Turn the ignition switch off and remove the key.

    Let the engine cool.

    Wear work gloves to protect your hands.

    Lift the tractor hood and disconnect the spark plug wire.

    Tip: Disconnect both spark plug wires if your tractor has 2 cylinders.
    PHOTO: Disconnect the spark plug.

    PHOTO: Disconnect the spark plug.

  2. 02.

    Remove the old air filter

    Rotate the air filter cover’s retaining knobs counterclockwise to release them and then pull off the air filter cover.

    Release the air filter from the intake tube and pull out the filter and foam pre-filter.

    PHOTO: Remove the air filter cover.

    PHOTO: Remove the air filter cover.

  3. 03.

    Install the new air filter

    Slide the foam pre-filter onto the air filter.

    Connect the new air filter to the intake tube and slide the filter into the housing.

    Reinstall the air filter cover and rotate the retaining knobs clockwise to lock the cover in place.

    Tip: Replace the foam pre-filter when you replace the air filter.
    PHOTO: Install the new air filter.

    PHOTO: Install the new air filter.

  4. 04.

    Reconnect the spark plug

    Reconnect the spark plug wire and lower the tractor hood.

    Tip: Reconnect both spark plug wires if your engine has 2 cylinders.
Warning: Undertaking repairs or maintenance to appliances or power equipment can be hazardous. Should you choose to undertake repairs or maintenance, you are assuming the risk of injury to your person or property. In an effort to reduce the risk, use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the applicable guide and follow all instructions. Do not proceed until you are confident that you understand all of the steps and are capable of completing the repair. Some repairs or maintenance, however, should only be performed by a qualified technician.

Symptoms common to all riding mowers & tractors

Choose a symptom to see related riding mower and lawn tractor repairs.

Main causes: punctured tire or inner tube, leaky valve stem, damaged wheel rim
Main causes: worn or broken ground drive belt, bad seat switch, transaxle freewheel control engaged, transaxle failure, dirty carburetor
Main causes: shift lever needs adjustment, neutral control needs adjustment
Main causes: worn or broken blade belt, broken belt idler pulley, blade clutch cable failure, bad PTO switch, damaged mandrel pulleys
Main causes: damaged cutting blade, worn deck pulley, damaged mandrel pulley, loose fasteners on mower deck components
Main causes: engine overfilled with oil, leaky head gasket or sump gasket, damaged carburetor seals, cracked fuel pump, broken fuel line
Main causes: clogged carburetor, damaged flywheel key, dirty spark plug, stale fuel, improper valve lash, engine needs a tune up
Main causes: faulty battery, bad alternator
Main causes: unlevel mower deck, dull or damaged cutting blades, worn mandrel pulleys, bent mower deck, engine needs tune up

Repair guides common to all riding mowers & tractors

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your riding mower or lawn tractor.

January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower rear tire

Your mower can’t run on a damaged rear tire. Here’s how to install a new one.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 60 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower blade

If a blade on your mower is dull or bent, replace it following the steps in this repair guide.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower fuel filter

Help your mower run better by replacing the fuel filter during your riding mower's annual tune-up.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all riding mowers & tractors

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your riding mower or lawn tractor.

August 6, 2020

How to remove a lawn mower blade using a removal tool

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how a blade removal tool makes replacing the blade easier and safer

April 9, 2019

Riding mower parts and supplies to stock up on video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Keep these 6 things on hand to keep the mower season running smoothly.

January 1, 1970

How to tell if a fuse is blown

By Lyle Weischwill

Learn how to tell whether a fuse is blown