Snowmobile Air Filters: Do You Really Need Them?

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With the increase in the number of people into winter sports in the last few years, snowmobiling has become an important part of entertainment for people in snow-filled regions.

Riding a snowmobile is exciting and it is also adventurous to roam around in the backcountry tracts.

So, having all parts of the snowmobile engine in proper shape will be necessary to ensure an uninterrupted adventure. Even if all parts of the engine are clear, the use of an air filter fitted before the intake system will help a lot in preventing bigger problems to the engine.

What Is the Use of Air Filters in Snowmobiles?

Just like the name suggests, the primary purpose that an air filter serves is to purify the air that is sent to the engine. It is a small component of the engine intake system which prevents impurities, particulate matter, and other contaminants from the air before it reaches the engine.

buying snowmobile air filters

As external air is necessary for the combustion of the fuel in a snowmobile engine, contaminants and particulate matter in the air can cause damage to several parts of the engine intake and combustion system. This is in general similar to all motorcycles and cars too.

A snowmobile air filter serves another additional purpose. It helps keep the snow that is thrown towards the intake system from getting inside the engine. As the snow might not always be tight and packed, the chances of powdered snow or water entering the intake system are high without a proper filter. Thus, without the use of a filter with a deep pocket, the engine might take severe damage.

How to Clean a Snowmobile Air Filter?

Checking for a clogged air filter and cleaning it frequently is necessary to maintain the right engine fuel and oil consumption. This is necessary to prevent the baffling of the intake air by the dirt-covered pores, which are supposed to allow air to the intake system.

The first step in cleaning the filter is to remove it from the filter frame. After careful removal, immerse the filter into a container filled with a clean high flash point solvent. Rinse the filter thoroughly in the solvent to remove all the oil dispersed in the filter. Most of the dirt is also removed in this process. Continue to rinse until the solvent becomes very dirty.

After rinsing it thoroughly with the solvent, remove the filter and squeeze the filter element to remove all the solvent present in it. Be careful not to wring or twist the filter element as it can damage the foam material and cause cracks or tears in it. It can also damage the glue and cause it to open.

Take some warm water and add small quantities of mild dish wash or detergent to it. Rewash the filter in the mixture for removing the residual dirt stuck to the filter. Rinse carefully until the filter is clean. Make sure to follow the same procedure as before to remove the mixture from the filter.

Skipping the second wash will result in dirt and solvent residues staying in the filter and result in increased wear to the engine and also more fuel and oil consumption. After the wash with the mixture, rinse the filter in warm water to remove the entire solvent and soap residue from the filter.

After clearing all the dirt from the filter, wrap it with paper towels to aid in faster drying of the filter. After drying, inspect the element for any signs of damage or cracks. Even if small damage is observed, it is advisable to replace the filter to avoid engine damage.

How to Purchase an Air Filter for a Snowmobile?

There are a few factors to consider while purchasing a new air filter to replace the old one. It is best advised to buy one similar to the old, so the compatibility and fit are perfect and no dirt escapes the filter into the air intake. Some of them are mentioned below.

Types of Filter

There are 3 types of filters available in general, namely paper, cotton, and foam. Paper filters are the oldest type of air filters and are cheap and effective for preventing dirt and other contaminants from entering the intake system. The use of paper filters for snowmobiles is limited as they cannot prevent powdered snow or water from entering. This is because it can get damaged by prolonged exposure to snow or water.

A cotton filter is more expensive than a paper filter and lasts longer than it. It is made of layers of cotton gauze held in place with wire mesh. After treatment with oil, the filter can be used to prevent dirt and other particulate matter from entering the engine. As the material is cotton, water and snow can penetrate through but are prevented by the oil treatment. So, it is suitable for riding with compacted snow tracts and with light powder snow.

Foam is the most commonly used type for snowmobile engines. Made with polyurethane and other polymers, the foam offers better dirt prevention properties and protection from snow and water than the other types. The working is similar to cotton filters and works with the help of oil.


The price of a snowmobile air filter is influenced by the features the filter offers like the dirt holding capacity, durability, reusability, etc.

Buying an expensive filter made of dual-layer foam to get the best filtration and also extended life can be a good investment for an avid snowmobile rider. For people who use it as a recreational sport during winter, it is better to buy a cheap one made of washable material.


It is necessary to buy the right type of air filter for your snowmobile, as getting a bigger size or incompatible filter will mean improper protection from dirt and snow.

The compatibility of the filter will depend on the manufacturer, the model of the snowmobile, and also the year of manufacture. Any changes made to the intake system can also affect the compatibility of the filter.

Some older snowmobile models use Uni filters while others use air box filters made completely of foam. So, getting the right size, shape, and type of filter for your snowmobile will be very important.

Final Words

Keeping your snowmobiles in good condition is something you should always do. This includes checking your snowmobile batteries and the air filter. When buying a new air filter for your snowmobile, it is important to consider various factors like reusability, cost, compatibility, and durability.

As these factors determine the protection the filter offers against snow and water and prevent them from entering the intake system, it is essential to choose the right one to get the best results.

Vikas Kajla
Vikas loves winter. When there is snow, you can't find him inside the house. He'll be out probably doing skiing, snowboarding or maybe snowmobiling.

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