Most snowmobiles come with an attachment called an air box which has a similar function to that of a filter. Air boxes help filter out particulate matter, snow, and debris like an air filter, but they also bring in cool air from outside the engine.
Do snowmobiles have air filters? Yes and no. Read on, and I’ll explain why.
Snowmobiles can have air filters, but many do not, especially older models. Instead of the filter, many have an air box that manages the air pressure differential between your sled’s internal pressure and the atmospheric pressure outside. The most important thing to know is that you need one or the other, but not both, to keep your sled running correctly.
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How Does Air Filter Work On Snowmobile
If you have an air filter on your snowmobile, then most of what you need to understand about how it works is in the name.
An air filter quite literally filters out the air. Removing everything from larger debris to particulate matter is essential for your engine health.
Airboxes have foam filters similar to an air filter. Your engine requires external air for combustion.
Without it, the gasoline won’t burn, and you have no power to move. Sadly, if too much ‘stuff’ gets inside your engine, it will gum up the works.
The oil and gas need to be pure, without small pieces of whatever is floating around the environment to lubricate and burn efficiently.
Deposits of debris and small particles like dust can collect in piles or stop hoses. They can also abraid surfaces leading to damage and rust or build up in a manner that prevents the parts inside from moving.
Your air filter or air box also prevents snow from getting inside the engine. Water in your machine is always bad news and contributes substantially to rust and other issues.
Can You Run A Snowmobile Without An Air Filter
You can run a snowmobile without an air filter if you have an airbox. The airbox has a filter, but it’s not the same as a traditional air filter.
Technically you could remove both and run your snowmobile without either, and the snowmobile might run faster for a while.
Unfortunately, running without a filter or airbox would quickly become problematic. The air intake draws oxygen into the engine regardless.
With no filtration, the air would have every bit of snow and debris that a filter would typically stop, and the particles, water drops, and larger pieces would build up, causing engine problems and eventual failure.
Without an airbox, the carburetor freezes easier and will cause the piston to seize. If your engine eats a lot of snow, scored marks will appear on the intake side of the piston that is caused by an increase of water on the engine with a nicasil cylinder.
When this happens, you will hear the piston slapping when you are idling.
Does It Matter What Kind Of Air Filter You Use On Snowmobile
It does matter what you use to filter the air going into your snowmobile, but what kind of filter you use isn’t the critical issue.
You can choose foam or paper filters; both work well enough, but they aren’t generally considered as good as keeping a classic airbox.
Foam filters are better because they are washable and reusable.
However, a traditional filter tends to pull hot air from inside the engine case into your engine.
Meanwhile, an air box brings in fresh, cold air from outside. Outside air helps keep the engine cooler, making it run more efficiently.
You are less likely to overheat using the airbox.
How To Replace An Air Filter On Snowmobile
Replacing a snowmobile air filter is as simple as removing it from the frame and placing a new filter of the same shape and size in its place.
Many riders opt to get filters that last for years instead of disposable paper filters. A foam filter is reliable and reusable so long as you don’t wring it out during cleaning or tear it by accident.
Below are the steps for replacing or cleaning a foam air filter.
- Remove or open your snowmobile’s hood.
- Release the filter from its frame.
- If you have a new filter, slot it into place and close the engine compartment. If you do this, skip the rest of the steps. Otherwise, skip this step and proceed.
- Clean the filter out in a high flash point solvent by moving it around to remove the dirt.
- Once the solvent is dirty, your filter needs to be squeezed out.
- Then, do a secondary wash with mild detergents like dish soap and warm water.
- Afterward, you can squeeze any excess water out and replace the same filter.
- Close the engine compartment.
If you are looking for the air box or filter, I recommend watching this video from Sppeders. They show you how to locate the air box on a Ski-Doo XP.
Other models and brands will vary slightly, but they should be in a similar position.
Best Air Filter For Snowmobile
- Durable urethane mounting base for longer life and better fit
Last update on 2023-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I recommend the Uni Pod Filter as the best air filter for a snowmobile. Uni has been designing and manufacturing high-quality air filters for over three decades and is a well-respected company.
This washable, reusable, POD-style urethane filter is universal and fits most snowmobile models.
These simple cylindrical filters are made to last. The basic, black, straight-sided design is highly effective without bells or whistles to overcomplicate the part.
With regular cleaning and a light touch, your Uni Pod will keep outside debris out of your snowmobile for years.
Most reviewers simply gave five out of five stars and commented “#1” or “it fits,” but Jon says the Uni Pod is “One of the best filters on the market.”
Uni Filter gives you 30 days to test out their high-quality filters. If they don’t work for you or you change your mind, they will refund the purchase. Better still, Uni has excellent customer service.
Get one for your snowmobile by clicking right here.
Helpful Tips To Know About Do Snowmobiles Have Air Filters
Snowmobiles can have a more traditional air filter. However, most come with an air box with a special filter that won’t fit on your sled without the air box.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about snowmobiles’ air filters.
- Removing the airbox from your snowmobile can ultimately help it run faster. However, if you choose to modify an air-box-equipped sled, you must install an air filter to take its place. Without the filter, your engine will almost certainly collect dust, debris, snow, and other undesirable materials until it inevitably leads to expensive repairs. Taking the time to add a filter can save you a lot of hassle down the road.
- The downside to using an air filter on a snowmobile is that snow gets drawn in and sits on top. The heat from your engine can melt that snow leaving you a wet filter and a small amount of water potentially leaking in. Worse than that, when you stop moving, the water causes some filters to ice over, so you must wait for the sled to heat up before you can get it running again.
- An air box filter is not simply called an “air filter” to avoid confusion, though it does the same job. Instead, you will see these listed explicitly as ‘air box filter’ or ‘filter for a snowmobile air box.’ Unlike a traditional air filter, these must be installed on an air box. However, both types of filters prevent things from the outside from getting into the engine through the air intake. It is important to understand the distinction, so you don’t end up with the wrong part. One small word can mean the difference between a functional sled and debris in your engine, causing costly damage because you had to run without any filter.
Most snowmobiles don’t come with air filters installed from the factory. Instead, they use an air box.
You can remove the bulky air box and replace it with a small round air filter.
Doing this will likely increase your speed, but it can also lead to unforeseen consequences like frozen filters and too much hot air from inside the engine compartment.
I recommend keeping your air box unless you plan to use a reusable air filter. Unless you are sure, you need the extra speed, installing a traditional air filter isn’t necessary on a snowmobile.