ATV Oil Filter Guide: How often you should change it


The ATV oil filter is a vital part of your quad, protecting your engine and ensuring its longevity. Today I will share with you answers to common questions about oil filters, including how often you should change it.

Changing an ATV oil filter should be done every second time the oil is changed. If you care about performance and want your four-wheeler to always top speeds, you should consider changing the oil filter with each oil change.

If you are a new ATV owner and want to know the proper way of maintaining your four-wheeler, then you definitely want to learn more about this topic. Taking care of your oil filter is essential for the proper ATV maintenance.

How Often Should You Change the ATV Oil Filter 

Your ATV service manual will include a guide that tells you when to change the ATV oil filter. The golden rule of thumb that most ATV riders follow (myself included) is to change the oil filter every second time you do an oil change. Since ATV oil needs to be changed every 2,000 miles, this means that the ATV oil filter needs to be changed every 4,000 miles.

However, if you are frequently navigating muddy or dusty routes, it’s best to consider a more frequent filter change. The ATV oil filter safeguards the engine from impurities such as dirt and mud, which is you need to make sure that it always works properly. If the oil filter is not working at its best, then it can lead to expensive repair bills. So, if you ride often on dirty trails, then you need to change the oil filter every time you change the oil as well. Talking about ATV oil, you should know that there are important differences between ATV and regular car oil.

What is Special About ATV Oil?

ATV oil is specifically designed for the unique use of off-road vehicles. While a car gets extended hours of use and regular oil changes, an ATV can see months in the shed with no use if it’s not ATV season. This is why ATV oil is created with rust and corrosion prevention in mind.

  • Anti-corrosion: Prevents rust during extended periods of non-use.
  • Temperature resilience: Performs consistently in both hot and cold environments.
  • Increased Viscosity: ATV oils are generally more viscous to offer better protection against wear in rugged conditions.

Can You Clean an ATV Oil Filter?

Cleaning out an ATV oil filter is not recommended. The reason is that there is no efficient way to thoroughly clean out the microscopic debris stuck in the filter. Even if you try to wash out the filter with contact cleaner or any other cleaning solution, there are still particles as small as 10 microns that will not come out.

On top of that, cleaning out larger elements from your filter can leave holes in the material, making the filter less effective with time and risking engine damage. Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t clean the ATV oil filter:

  • Inefficiency: It’s nearly impossible to remove all the microscopic debris, some as tiny as 10 microns, lodged in the filter.
  • Potential Damage: Attempting to clean can cause holes in the filter material, reducing its effectiveness and posing risks to your engine.
  • Cost-Effective Alternatives: With oil filters available for as low as $2, it’s more sensible to replace than attempt a clean. However, investing in a higher-quality filter, around the $5 mark, is advisable for better performance.

I also wrote a full guide that shows how to determine the best ATV and UTV tire pressure that might interest you.

How Often Should I Change the Oil in My ATV

On average, it is recommended to change ATV oil once every 50 to 100 hours of use. Other situations in which oil needs to be changed is when you have ridden more than 1000 miles since your last change. In case your ATV does not get much time on the trails, then make sure to change the oil every six months.

As for the ATV oil filter, opinions differ from one person to another. Most of my friends and I prefer to change the oil filter with every oil change, mostly because our quads see heavy use. If you are a casual rider and ride your quad mostly on smooth terrain, then changing your oil filter with every second oil change should be more than enough to maintain your quad.

How Do You Remove an ATV Oil Filter?

In order to remove an ATV oil filter, you need a filter wrench suited for the width of your filter. The most frequent size of a filter wrench is three eights of an inch (3/8”) that only retails for around $7. This is all that you need to change the oil filter. However, if you plan on changing the oil at the same time with your filter, then you will need some more supplies: funnel, drain pan, socket set, screwdriver, and ratchet.

The position of your quad’s oil filter and drain plug can differ based on the brand you have, but here is a useful YouTube video explaining the process on a Honda TRX400EX:

I recommend you check out your service manual to see the exact positions of the engine parts. Another good idea is to search YouTube for oil changes on the exact make and model of your quad that you can follow along with. For instance, the official Polaris channel provides owners with separate oil and filter change videos for their most popular models.

Final Thoughts

The ATV oil filter is a small but vital part of your engine. Without it, your engine could be seriously damaged by impurities in the engine oil. Making regular oil and oil filter changes is one of the most important maintenance procedures to keep your ATV in peak condition. I do not recommend cleaning out the oil filter, since it is impractical and it risks the health of your four-wheeler.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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