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How to Replace a Lawnmower's Air Filter

A properly functioning air filter is your lawnmower's first line of defense against the dirt and debris that is kicked up during the mowing process. When the air filter is in good condition and working properly, it prevents dirt from entering the engine through the carburetor. But if the air filter is worn out, dirt and other debris can make their way into the engine. Luckily, replacing a lawnmower's air filter is not at all difficult and you can do it in your own garage.

Replacing an Air Filter Step-by-Step

A lawnmower's air filter is usually located near the top of the engine and is encased within a metal or plastic shroud that is usually secured by a screw or with snap fittings. There are several types of air filters on the market: some are foam filters that require oil, some are paper and some are hybrids that include both a foam element as a pre-filter and a paper element as the main filter. Fortunately, the process for replacing the filter is essentially the same no matter the type. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the screws or undo the clips that secure the lawnmower's protective shroud (covering) over the air filter.
  2. Remove the air filter. For a paper filter, gently tap it on a flat surface to remove any loose dirt. Examine the filter and hold it up to a bright light source. If the filter's paper element blocks a significant amount of light, then it's time to replace it. For a foam filter, look for telltale brown or yellow staining, which indicates it's time to replace it.
  3. Inspect the pre-filter (if the mower is so equipped). The pre-filter is almost always made of foam, and if it has become stiff, brittle or significantly stained, replace it.
  4. Clean the air filter housing with a dry cloth. Do not use solvents, as they can damage the air filter element. And do not use compressed air, which could force debris down the throat of the lawnmower's carburetor.
  5. Insert the new filter element into the air cleaner assembly.
  6. Reattach the protective shroud, being careful not to pinch or otherwise damage the air filter element in the process. Never force the shroud into place. If it does not reassemble easily, you've probably inserted the new filter element incorrectly

Follow Manufacturer Recommendations

As with any repair or service to your lawnmower, always follow any manufacturer's recommendations as outlined in your lawnmower's owner's manual when replacing the air filter. While lawnmower air filter elements are available individually, they're often also sold as part of a complete tune-up kit that includes fresh oil and a new spark plug as well. If you're planning on doing an entire tune-up, it's a good idea to get the entire kit. If you only need the air filter, you can save a few dollars by purchasing the individual filter element.