One of the best things about lawnmowers is their simplicity. You can probably remember your grandfather or father having the same old mower for years that always started up on the first pull. Well, regular maintenance was what kept it working. The air filter is a fundamental part of the lawnmower and regular cleaning and replacement helps keep it running. If you arrived here to find out where the air filter is on a lawn mower, I’ve got you covered.
In this article, I’ll go over where the lawn mower air filter is. I will also cover why your air filter is so important and why it needs to be changed, cleaned, or otherwise maintained.
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Your Air Filter is Cheap, but Critical to Your Mower’s Engine
The air filter is a crucial engine component. Like all combustion engines, air (along with fuel and a spark) is necessary for it to function.
The filter does exactly what it sounds like it does. It filters the air to prevent debris from entering the engine.
However, air filters eventually stop performing when they get clogged with debris.
As more and more debris builds up, the filter can stop air from passing into the engine. When this happens, the engine cannot breathe and at best won’t function well.
At worst your mower won’t even start.
That’s a problem you should never have to face if you practice regular air filter maintenance (which simply means replacing the air filter at regular intervals).
How often you should change the filter depends entirely on how often you use the mower.
I recommend using a fresh filter at the start of each mowing season.
You may need to change it during the grass cutting season, as you’ll mow more frequently. Let’s talk about air filter maintenance, where to find the filter on different types of mowers, and the different types of filters available.
Where Are Air Filters Located on Lawn Mowers?
There are different types of mowers, and where the air filter is located on your mower may not be precisely what’s listed here.
It’s worth checking your lawnmower’s manual to see exactly what type of air filter you have and where it is located.
Generally speaking, these are the most common air filter locations for each type of lawn mower.
Air Filter Location on a Walk Behind Mower
The air filter on most walk-behind lawn mowers is within a square plastic case on the side of the engine.
Easy access to the air filter should be something all mowers have, simply because it is a part that needs frequent cleaning and/or replacing.
Walk behind mowers provide easy access and the design for air filter placement is fairly universal between manufacturers.
You may see some slight variations, but for the most part, the air filter on a walk behind mower is located on the side of the engine cover. Where the sides of the engine are exposed, there should be a plastic housing with a screw-on lid.
The air filter is inside this housing. This part of the engine is nearly always exposed to be able to get air and to provide access for maintenance.
It’s easy to change a filter in this position. Simply remove or open the filter plastic cover and you have direct access to the filter.
You can now remove the filter to clean it or replace it with a new one.
Where is the Air Filter on a Lawn Tractor?
Once you open the engine cover you’ll find your mower’s air filter on the top or side of the engine. It’s always on the outside of the engine and easily accessible.
Tractor mowers are a little more complicated, but it is still only an easy 15-minute job to clean or repair the air filter. You’ll need to open the front engine cover to access the engine bay.
Unlike on the walk behind mower, the air filter is not exposed on a lawn tractor mower. Instead, once inside the engine bay, you’ll find the filter on the top or side. It’s the first accessible part.
Again, plastic housing protects it. You’ll have to remove that housing to access the filter underneath. Importantly, ensure the mower is standing on flat ground.
Where is the Air Filter Located on a Rear-Engine Riding Mower?
The location of your engine cover will vary, but once you expose your mower’s engine, the air filter will be accessible on top of or on the side of the engine.
Ride-on mowers look like a nightmare to maintain because the seat essentially sits atop the engine. However, it’s not as difficult as it first appears to access the engine.
Some mowers will keep the engine cover behind the seat for simple access, while others allow the cover to be taken off without removing the seat.
Either way, you must remove the engine cover to access the air filter. It’s still easy enough to do, but not quite as efficient as walk behind and tractor mowers.
Zero Turn Mower Air Filter Location
On a zero turn mower, your air filter will typically be located on the top section of the engine (at the rear of the mower). It should be in an exposed plastic housing that is easily opened and closed.
Often seen as the pinnacle of the mowing world, don’t be fooled by the name of these machines. They are extremely maneuverable by controlling the mower from lap bars in front of the seat.
Zero turn mowers have a dual hydrostatic transmission that moves the rear wheels. Pivoting, acute turns, and an even all-round cutting spread make zero turn mowers excellent.
They are also among the easiest mowers to maintain because the engine is often exposed on the rear. That means you can see and access the air filter housing without needing to remove any other covers.
Air filters are usually located on the top section of the engine in an individual plastic housing that opens and closes.
Where is the Air Filter on a Self-Propelled Mower?
Remarkably similar to a walk-behind mower, the difference here is all in the name. While you need to push a traditional walk-behind, with a self-propelled mower the engine does the moving for you.
Your hands still need to be on the bars, but you’re more of a guide for directions than anything else. These mowers usually have an all-exposed or partially exposed engine, making access to the air filter easy.
Hover Mower Air Filter Location
After removing the engine cover you’ll find the hover mower’s air filter sitting on top of the engine.
Hover mowers are completely unique and mostly associated with one company, Flymo. While they are not as powerful as other mowers, they make up for it with maneuverability.
Sitting inches above the ground on a cushion of air, it’s easy to move these mowers into awkward patches of lawn. That makes them ideal for a low maintenance garden.
In terms of air filter access, these are relatively complicated because you must remove the entirety of the mower cover to access the engine. This involves several turns of the cover to remove it.
The air filter underneath is usually located on the side of the engine motor.
Note: It’s vital to put safety first when changing the air filter on any type of mower. Before accessing the filter, ensure the mower is turned off and remove the spark plug.
Why You Must Maintain Your Mower’s Air Filter
There are several different kinds of air filters, and the kind you have depends on the type of mower you own.
Most people are familiar with the classic accordion style of the disposable paper filter.
This style features folds of perforated paper on a plastic spindle. Another air filter type of filter is made of form and will generally last longer.
Finally, there is also a dual filter that combines the inside paper filter and foam outer paper-filter. You can wash these, and if you clean them regularly, you can use them permanently.
Normal filters can have regular cleaning maintenance to stay clean but eventually needs to be replaced to avoid becoming blocked.
Manufacturers offer their own timeframe for replacing paper filters, usually between 25 and 50 hours. Cleaning these filters in-between involves tapping the plastic to dislodge debris or blowing dust with an air-shooting aerosol can.
It is worth noting that a filter described as permanent won’t really last forever. When any filter becomes clogged it must be replaced.
So-called “permanent” air filters will simply last longer than normal paper filters.
TIP: HIPA offers some nice all-in-one kits with all of the parts you’ll need to maintain your mower (including air filters). Check their inventory here to see if there’s a deal on maintenance parts to keep your mower running its best.
It’s Easy to Change Most Mower Air Filters
Whatever type of powered mower you have, it has an air filter. This essential component ensures the engine can breathe and perform properly.
Air filter maintenance is important, and manufacturers make filter access easy because of this.
Whether you have a paper filter or a “permanent” foam one, regularly changing your air filter can help to ensure optimum mower performance and will keep your mower running for years to come.