How to clean a nitro engine air filter

Screen shot 2013-08-29 at 18.55.33After using your nitro radio controlled car for a while you will need to clean the engine’s air filter element. If you don’t do this, dirt and debris will build up over time and will eventually clog the filter, which will cause problems.

A clogged air filter will cause the engine to run richer due to lack of air, and the engine may also become erratic, making tuning difficult. Your car will use more fuel and will also lose power. You also risk debris or dirt entering the engine if not cleaned, which can cause other rc engine running problems and premature engine wear.

Off-road use will require more frequent cleaning, while with on-road use you don’t need to worry so much, although it is still worth doing if you want to keep your car in optimum running condition. I would recommend cleaning the filter after a day of use, especially in dry, dusty conditions.

It amazes me how many people over the local park never clean their air filter! I don’t know whether this is due to laziness or lack of understanding how nitro engines work. It’s not hard to do and doesn’t take long at all. Here’s how it is done:

Cleaning the foam air filter

Cleaning is easy. You will need:

  • An old bowl or cup filled with warm soapy water
  • Kitchen roll or paper towels
  • Air filter oil made for rc nitro engines
  • Small amount of rc nitro fuel (optional)
  • Small plastic bag (optional)

1. Remove the filter housing from the car and disassemble it. This is usually as simple as undoing a screw and removing the foam element from the plastic housing, but the method will vary depending on your model – see the instruction booklet that came with the car if it is not so simple.

2. Once the air filter is disassembled, remove any loose mud or debris from the filter and housing and give it a good clean in warm soapy water. This should get most of the dirt out and it should start looking a lot cleaner. Get it as clean as you can and then dry it with a paper towel. Leave it somewhere until fully dry.

3. This step is optional – If you want to get it really clean, place the filter in a small container ( I use an old lid/cap from an aerosol can ) filled with enough nitro to submerge the filter completely. Let it soak in and then rinse it out a few times. Don’t get the nitro on your hands, use some rubber/disposable gloves and carry this step out in a well ventilated area – ideally in the garden or garage. Once the filter is clean, dry it with a paper towel and let it dry fully before applying the oil in the next step.

4. Now get the air filter oil and pour around 20-30 drops over the filter. Squash the foam a few times so the oil soaks right in. An easy way to do this without making a right mess is to place the filter in a small clear bag, pour the oil in and then squash the filter around a few times. You don’t need an excessive amount of oil, just enough so it is fully covered.

5. Now fit the filter element back into the housing, refit the filter back onto your car and you are good to go!