What is a Lawn Mower Air Filter?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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A lawn mower air filter is designed to protect the gasoline engine from flying dirt and debris. This part may be made from paper or foam, and should be replaced or cleaned as a part of routine lawn mower maintenance. Replacement parts may be purchased online or from a local home improvement store. The maintenance may be performed by the mower owner in a minimum amount of time with relative ease.

The purpose of a lawn mower air filter is to protect the machine's engine. It is used in all types of mower engines, including push models, self-propelled units, and riding lawn tractors. This device prevents dirt, debris, and dust from reaching the moving engine parts and gumming up the works. This piece of equipment should be checked after each lawn care season and replaced a minimum of every two years. Maintaining a clean air filter will improve the efficiency of the lawn mower engine and extend its life.


The lawn mower air filter is made from either paper or foam. Paper filters may be replaced periodically by purchasing a new one to fit the exact make and model of the mower itself. This item is typically square or rectangular in size and has multiple pleats which face outward, away from the engine assembly. If the pleats are caked with oil and debris, and appear dark in color, then it is time to replace the filter. When the new unit is installed, it should be placed in a manner facing identical to the original one, as these types of filters are designed to work properly in only one position.

Foam filters must generally be cleaned with gentle soap and water, and allowed to air dry before putting them back into the machine. Dish detergent or an automotive degreaser are appropriate for this type of use. If the filter is old, the oil and dirt may be too difficult to remove, in which case the foam should be changed. The spongy interior may be removed periodically from the filter and replaced with new materials which must first be soaked in engine oil for maximum efficiency.

This mechanism is typically located near the engine assembly on the machine. It may be protected by a plastic housing and secured with one or more screws, to prevent it from coming loose during usage. Once the protective housing has been removed, the lawn mower air filter should lift out easily without much resistance. If the owner has trouble locating the filter, he may review his owner's manual which should provide a labeled schematic of the mower.


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