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, so that you can maintain your 4-wheeler in peak condition.

An ATV oil filter is an engine part that helps keep away impurities. Since All Terrain Vehicles are designed to run through mud, dirt, and other difficult terrains, an oil filter is vital for the health of the engine. This small filter captures debris and metal fragments to prevent them from entering the engine. Checking and changing the ATV oil filter on a regular basis is a key part of maintenance for these vehicles. The recommended frequency of oil filter changes is usually included in the service manual of a quad. As a general rule, changing the oil filter with every second oil change is enough to maintain your ATV in good condition. That being said, many off-roaders prefer changing their oil filters with each oil change, as a preventive measure.

If you are a new ATV owner and want to know the proper way of maintaining your quad, then you definitely want to learn more about this topic. Stay tuned to find out why ATV oil is unique and why you should never clean your oil filter.

Do ATVs Use Oil Filters?

Much like other vehicles that feature an engine, ATVs use oil filters to catch dirt and other impurities from entering the motor. The oil passes through the engine to prevent friction between engine parts. If the oil was dirty and debris got caught in your engine, then everything could go south. This is why an ATV oil filter is an essential engine part, that keeps the oil in good condition and prevents wear and tear. It’s important to mention that ATVs actually need more maintenance than regular cars.

One important thing to note is that the oil filter is not a permanent part in your vehicle. This is a cheap removable part that needs to be changed regularly to maintain the purity of the oil. Depending on your riding style and the terrain you ride on, there is a chance your ATV oil filter will need more frequent changes.

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. This is why ATV oil is created with rust and corrosion prevention in mind.

Another reason why oil made for four-wheelers is unique is because it needs to withstand both very hot and very cold temperatures. As a result, most manufacturers and experienced off-roaders recommend synthetic oil.

However, there are benefits to mention about using conventional natural oil and caster oil too. I recommend you check out this article on the main differences between car oil and ATV oil, with a comprehensive guide on how to choose your ATV oil. Even though oil filters play an important role in the proper maintenance of your quad, it needs to be paired with quality engine oil for effective use.

Can you Clean a ATV Oil Filter?

Cleaning out an ATV oil filter is not recommended, since 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.

Oil filters can be as cheap as 2 bucks. There is no need to go through the trouble of cleaning out an ATV oil filter and taking risks with your expensive quad just for a few bucks once every two months. That being said, I recommend paying at least $5 for a better-quality filter. Last but not least, make sure that the filter you are purchasing for change matches the make and model of your quad.

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 motor 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 4-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 if you want to get in touch.

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