How To Clean A Harley Air Filter: Step-By-Step Instructions To Clean An Air Filter


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How To Clean A Harley Air Filter

Do you own a Harley-Davidson bike but don’t know the right way to clean its air filter? If so, then you’re definitely in the right place, as you’ll find the right method here.

Cleaning a Harley air filter involves removing the filter, applying the cleaning solution, rinsing it, drying it, oiling, and replacing it. Your bike’s air filter will be crucial for maintaining engine performance. But over time, the accumulation of dirt, pebbles, dust, and more could impede the airflow. It’s important to clean the filter, otherwise your engine will find it hard to draw in the air or cool down.

In this article, you’ll get to know about air filters, the benefits of an air filter, how does an air filter work, the importance of an air filter, how to clean a Harley air filter, and more. Stick around to know all the answers that you’re looking for

What do you mean by a Harley-Davidson air filter?

An air filter is one of the most significant inventions of today’s technology. When you’ve attached an air filter in your Harley-Davidson or any stock vehicle, you’ll benefit by removing solid airborne particles, germs, and pollutants harmful to running engines. An air filter construction gets empowered by fibrous pleated paper, ionizers, chemicals, and catalysts.

Moreover, your vehicle engine will get maximum fresh air and breathable level This way, the transportation conditions will be eternally natural and standardized. Some Harley models get lower in performance because of the engine’s sickness. Making use of air filters will help spread effectiveness to your Harley-Davison bike.  

What are the benefits of using a high-flow air filter in a Harley-Davidson bike?

The first benefit that you can get using an air filter is its capacity to enhance performance. Once your bike has been enhanced with maximum power, it’ll be able to go miles away without stopping its engine even once. An air cleaner will offer maximum fresh air to the engine’s intake system.

This way, your bike will run proficiently even in tricky situations. Another benefit of an air filter will be that your Harley-Davidson bike’s engine can burn more fuels.

Your Harley-Davidson bike will behave like a better combustion strategy. It will also become capable of running by maximum power and torque capability. Your bike will be able to enjoy improved fuel efficiency once you are utilizing an air filter. Besides, the process will also help you with the maximum throttle response.

However, it’s recommended by professionals that you should replace your air filter once every year. It will help you as the air filter gets clogged, obstructed, or damaged from time to time.

If it isn’t changed, your air filter won’t perform like a pro. You shouldn’t let the engine be in the suffocation. Your bike’s engine and its performance will gradually decrease. Here are some of the pros of using an air filter in your Harley-Davidson bike –

  • An air filter will enhance the maintenance of your bike’s engine 
  • It’ll increase your bike’s performance and torque system
  • It’ll restrict any pollution, grime, or roadside dirt 

How does a Harley-Davidson air filter work?

You’ve probably been using face mask products during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep you away from the deadly virus. The air filter will also work the same, but it’ll work slightly different for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle or a vehicle system. When using it, you’ll find that it offers ultimate protection against harmful particles that lead your engine through critical equipment and applications.

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Harley Air Filter

No matter what, stock air filters and standard air filters work very similarly. However, top motorcycle manufacturers bring their foremost aftermarket filter for the world enthusiasts. The air filters will pass clean air to the engine and rid the bike of any hair, dust, and particles. Even if your bike gets larger particles, it can get caught by the air filter’s surface. The primary task of the standard air filter is getting your motorcycle an optimum filtration performance.

Clean the air filter in your Harley-Davidson motorcycle

If you’re here, then you’re probably looking for answers to how to clean a Harley air filter. Harley-Davidson has been one of the most popular and trending motorcycle brands for more than a century. When you’re driving and going through the hard roads, you will inevitably get pollution inside the engine parts. The problem affects the engine’s performance and decreases the performance of your bike gradually. 

Air cleaners and filters from top manufacturers will save your engine from pollution while giving you an improved engine performance. Nothing can be more powerful than cleaning your engine’s pollution regularly.

Your Harley-Davidson bike’s air filter will be critical to maintaining the engine performance. It will allow you to clean air and combine it with fuel, combust, and produce the vehicle’s power. Over time, the accumulation of dust, dirt, pebbles, and more could impede the airflow. If the filter is dirty, your engine will have to work harder to draw in the air or cool down.

Eventually, the unwanted materials can get sucked into your engine from the air intake when on the road. This can potentially damage the pistons while blocking the carburetor. 

There are different classes of air filters – dry and oiled. Typical dry filters are made using foam, which is capable of blocking more particulates than paper filters. Due to the material density, they can inhibit airflow as they’re getting dirty. They must be cleaned or replaced once every 15,000 miles, or more frequently if you’re driving on dusty roads or polluted areas.

Oiled versions like the widely popular K&N filters make use of an oiled cotton gauze construction. A thorough cleaning of K&N air filters will only be needed when portions of the screen aren’t visible or once every 50,000 miles. When you’re cleaning the air filter, it’s essential to use a cleaner that will thoroughly remove dirt and debris without petroleum-based chemicals. They could damage or dissolve the filter materials. You should also avoid using kerosene or solvents for this reason.

Harley Davidson Motorcycle With Air Filter

Using an all-purpose cleaner will be useful. These cleaners are aggressive on grease and heavy soils. Meanwhile, they’re also gentle enough to clean air filters without actually harming the filter material or causing damage to the surfaces on your bike’s components. When used according to label instructions, it will be safe on aluminum, titanium, chrome, and other high-tech alloys. Moreover, they also work well on painted, gel-coated surfaces, carbon fibers, rubber, plastics, anodized and electroplated parts, and more.

Use an all-cleaning solution to clean the air filter

Check the owner’s manual before you clean the air filter. Remember to follow the manufacturers’ complete instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Ensure that the engine is cool to the touch before you start cleaning.

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1. Remove the filter

Take the air filter out and ensure that no dirt or debris falls inside the bike. If there is any housing on the filter, remove the housing and the wing nut that’s attacking the filter to remove the outer element.

2. Apply the cleaning solution

Spray the cleaning solution all over the air filter and let it soak for a while.

3. Rinse the solution

Using a hose or faucet, rinse the filter from both sides. Start out from the interior and work your way towards the exterior to prevent pushing the dirt into the fibers of the filter. Remember that you should avoid damaging the filter, as it could get damaged if you aren’t careful. Rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear. You can even repeat the process a couple of times if necessary.

4. Dry the air filter

Shake the filter to get rid of excess water and set it down to air dry. Ensure that the filter is completely dry before you oil it (if you’re having an oiled filter) and then replace it.

5. Oil and replace

If you’re having an oiled filter, use fresh filter oil for saturating the entire filter, including the lip and sealing flap. Most modern bikes use a Mass Airflow (MAF) sensor, which requires special care when re-oiling these kinds of filters. It helps in avoiding over-oiling and affecting sensitive wires of the MAF. This could end up causing it to incorrectly measure air consumption, which results in a “check engine” light. Apply the oil spray evenly along the crown of each pleat of the filter. Then, squeeze out any excess oil and return the filter to its housing.

How to clean a Harley air filter?

Harley-Davidson is an iconic motorcycle manufacturer in the US that has become the go-to option for touring and cruiser bikes. The brand has a rich history, with its first bike being built in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Almost 120 years later and the brand is still selling bikes and going stronger than ever. Most Harley-Davidson bikers take pride in their bikes and keep them well maintained.

Whether you are riding a brand-new model or an expertly restored antique, the key to keeping your bike running efficiently would be to keep the air filter clean. Here are the simple instructions that will allow you to keep your Harley-Davidson bike’s air filter free –

Step 1

Remove the air cleaner cover insert on the right-hand side of the bike. You can do this by removing the two attaching screws with a #10-24 hex wrench in a counterclockwise motion.

Step 2

Now, remove the air cleaner cover by removing the attaching screw using a Philips screwdriver in a counterclockwise motion.

Step 3

Then, remove the air filter element. Do this by removing the three attaching screws using a 1/4-20 TORX wrench in a counterclockwise motion.

Step 4

Take a shallow pan and fill it up with 9.5mm or .375-inches of degreaser.

Step 6

Remove the air filter element that you had placed on the degreaser. Place the element on a newspaper and then allow the degreaser to soak into the filter pleats for 5 minutes or so.

Step 7

Thoroughly rinse the air filter element via a stream of water from the inside out.

Step 8

Now, put the air filter on a clean newspaper and then allow it to dry completely.

Step 9

Reinstall the air filter element to the air cleaner using the three attaching screws and a 1/4-20 TORX wrench in a clockwise motion.

Step 10

Reinstall the air cleaner cover using a Philips screwdriver and an attaching screw in a clockwise motion. After that, reinstall the air cleaner cover insert using a #10-24 hex head wrench and the two attaching screws in a clockwise motion.

How important is it to constantly check your Harley-Davidson bike’s air cleaner?

Inspecting and cleaning your Harley-Davidson bike’s air cleaner is a recommended maintenance practice every 5,000 – 10,000 kilometers. However, if your motorcycle is often traveling on dirt, gravel, or any kind of dust-filled environment, it should be subjected to more frequent inspections.

Harley-Davidson air filters can get especially grimy because of the crankcase venting the carry-over straight into the air filter. The stock Harley-Davidson air filters can be cleaned in lukewarm water using a mild detergent. You must don’t strike or physically abuse the hard surface to remove and dislodge any persistent dirt. You should allow the filter to naturally dry or use a low-pressure air compressor for speeding up the job.

Always remember that you should be blowing from the inside out. To know when your air filter is successfully cleaned and dry, the light will be visible through the elements once held up towards a light. If the filter is damaged or cannot be cleaned sufficiently, it’s recommended that you swap it for a new one. 

While cleaning your filter, it’ll give you the opportunity to inspect the condition of the breather tubes. These tubes are what the crankcase vents through to reach the air filter. Ensure that they aren’t worn out or showing any signs of corrosion. Venting through the tubes into the air filter is essential for emission regulations and to avoid any motor damage/malfunctions.

Lastly, you should take ample time to thoroughly clean out the build-up in the air box and the throttle body opening. It can be done using a clean rag and a small quantity of brake cleaner. Make sure that while you’re cleaning the throttle body opening that no debris has been introduced as this passage will lead directly to the intake, hence the motor.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about air filters, the benefits of an air filter, how does an air filter work, the importance of an air filter, how to clean a Harley air filter, and more. For cleaning a Harley-Davidson air filter, the process involves removing the filter, applying the cleaning solution, rinsing it, drying it, oiling, and replacing it. Your Harley-Davidson bike’s air filter will be crucial for maintaining engine performance. But over time, the accumulation of dirt, pebbles, dust, and more could impede the airflow. It’s important to clean the filter, otherwise your engine will find it hard to draw in the air or cool down.

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White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.

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