What Happens If You Run ATV Without An Air Filter? 3 Major Side Effects

Any vehicle engine is extremely dependent on its air filter, which is of the utmost importance. And without it, your ATV cannot survive for a long time.

Using your ATV without an air filter will allow dust, debris, and other harmful environmental particles to enter your engine, contaminate the fuel, and cause more wear and tear to the engine and other parts of the ATV.

The air filters are made of a special material that blocks unwanted particles and only allows the air to enter the engine for smooth working. Therefore, without an air filter, the engine suffers damage.

This article will discuss the effects of using the ATV without the air filters and other worth-knowing facts about your ATV air filters.

Effects Of Removed Air -Filter:

 If you have made the mistake of using your ATV without an Air filter, you might face the following problems with your ATV vehicle.

Turbocharger damage:

In high-performance ATVs, turbochargers are present for improved performance. The turbocharger charger increases the efficiency and power output of the combustion engine by forcing more air into the combustion engine.

So, the turbocharger function is closely associated with the air filter, and its function is affected when the ATV is used with the air filter removed.

The dust particles and debris will enter the turbocharger, interfere with its working, and causes serious damage to it.

Engine Damage:

During its working, the engine sucks air for optimal working. However, when the air filter is removed, the engine will also take in the dirt and debris along with the air filter.

These particles can accumulate in the different parts of the engine, such as pistons, valves, and cylinders, and causes decreased engine performance and, eventually, engine failure.

Engine Run Lean:

Your engine may run lean if you have used your ATV without an air filter. The carburettor is responsible for mixing the air and fuel to provide the right air/fuel mixture ratio to the combustion engine.

Without the air filter, dust and debris will clog the carburettor. Since the carburettor is clogged, enough fuel will not be supplied to the combustion engine.

It causes the engine to run lean as the combustion engine receives more air and less fuel. Due to it, the ignition will not take place properly, and the overall vehicle performance will be affected.

Why Does Your ATV Need an Air Filter?

For the proper functioning of the ATV, the engine requires an optimal ratio of air and fuel. The fuel and air mixture undergoes combustion in the combustion chamber.

Why Does Your ATV Need an Air Filter?
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The ignition process produces power that is supplied to the different parts of the ATV.

The air and fuel must be cleaned and free of debris; otherwise, the polluted air or fuel can contaminate other parts of the engine.

Here comes the role of the air filter; the air filter works by removing any dirt and unwanted particles from the air that enter the engine and supplies clean air for smooth working. 

Why Do Some People Run Their ATVs Without Air Filters?

Many ATV lovers like to run their ATVs without air filters to increase their ATV performance by allowing the ATV to breathe better without the air filter.

It is also done to get that loud ATV sound. But they are unaware that removing the air filter causes their ATV to damage more quickly.

Moreover, removing air filters causes their carburettor to get clogged, and the engine struggles to start due to less fuel supply. 

Similarly, fuel-injected ATVs have a built-in system that adjusts the air-fuel mixture despite the outside factors. 

Therefore, removing the air filter will not increase the performance of fuel-injected ATVs; instead, it will damage the ATV engine badly.

What To Do if You Have Run Your ATV Without an Air Filter?

If you have accidentally run your ATV without the air filter, you should take appropriate steps for your ATV to prevent its condition from becoming worse.

The damage will vary depending on the type of environment in which you have to ride your ATV. The damage will not be so severe if you have to ride it on plain ground. But if you ride it in snow, sand, or mud, that ATV will be damaged very badly.

If you don’t see any major engine damage or hear any odd sounds, your ATV will be fine, and you can take the following steps to prevent any further damage.

  • Check the intake and see if there is any debris.
  • Change the engine oil to get rid of any existing debris.
  • Use a carburettor cleaner to clean the clogged carburettors.
  • You can also use sea foam to clean the carburettor, valves, and combustion engine.
  • And most importantly, remember to install the air filter.

How to Keep Your Engine Clean From Dirt And Debris?

Maintaining a clean air filter is the best way to keep your engine clean from unwanted particles and debris. To clean the air filter, follow the below-mentioned steps.

  • Remove the air filter from your ATV vehicle.
  • Select a neat place to clean the dirty air filter.
  • Wear rubber gloves, and start washing your air filter by applying a high-quality filter cleaner.
  • Once you have removed all the dirt, allow the air filter to dry.
  • After drying, apply the filter oil, carefully cover the whole air filter with it, and let it sit for about 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, clean your ATV filter box and apply waterproof grease around its edges.
  • Make sure that no moisture is left in the air filter. Now install it carefully, and your ATV is now ready to use.

If you have a paper air filter that cannot be reused, replace it immediately after it gets dirty.

Things To Consider While Selecting An Air Filter For ATV:

Selecting the right air filter is very crucial for the optimal working of the ATV. We have mentioned some factors that are worth considering while selecting one.

Material Of The Air Filter:

What Happens If You Run Atv Without An Air Filter

Air filters come in different materials, such as paper, cotton, and foam. Paper air filters are less expensive but are not reusable, so you must change them whenever they get dirty.

On the other hand, foam and cotton air filters can be cleaned and reused after cleaning and oiling them properly.

So in comparison, the cotton and foam air filters are better than the cheaper paper filters regarding their longevity.

Size Of The Air Filter:

Always select the air filter that is compatible with your ATV vehicle. Buying an air filter that does not fit properly will not protect your ATV.

Always choose the air filters that perfectly cover the area and properly block the dirt and debris.

Brand of the Air Filter:

Always buy air filters from a well-reputed brand. The well-reputed brand will provide air filters made of the best quality.

Never compromise on the quality of the air filter; make a good purchase at once instead of risking the life of your ATV.


Using your ATV without an air filter will cause its engine to wear and tear faster. It can cause damage to the turbocharger and can cause your ATV engine to run lean.

Moreover, using your ATV without an air filter for improved performance will ruin the engine and other parts more quickly.

If you have done so, you can take appropriate steps to prevent your ATV from further damage. We have also mentioned some points worth considering while selecting the right air filter for your ATV.