Tech Tips: The Case AGAINST Cleaning Air Filters

Cleaning your own air filters can be a savvy way to save money while extending the life of the filter.  The problem is, most common cleaning practices can cause damage to the filter seals, end caps, and the filter media itself.  Working with a damaged air filter is a quick way to do greater damage to your engine, and when you think about how much that might cost, suddenly the cost of a new filter seems pretty small, right?

Outer and Inner Air Filters

If you’re thinking about cleaning, there are some simple DO NOTs you should follow: don’t hit the filter against a hard surface, don’t scrape the filter media and don’t disassemble the filter.  Hitting it against a hard surface can compromise a) the outer sealing of the filter and b) the seal between the filter media and the end cap.  Some people like to use compressed air, but that too can cause damage if used incorrectly (by spraying too close or with too much pressure) and also allows dirt to blow around to the opposite “filtered” side of the filter.  Please note that inner air filters should NEVER be cleaned as they’re your last line of defense for dirt and debris.

Replacing filters is easier, less time intensive and simply better for your machine.  If you do clean them, make sure you’re doing so with proper care and technique and keep in mind that damaged filters have no business being on your machine.

Do you have any questions regarding filters or any other service topic?  Visit the Ask the Experts page and submit your question.  While you’re there, feel free to browse the Answers Archive – maybe someone else had the same question!

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