Fuel filters prevent rust and dirt from reaching the fuel tank, so they’re an integral part of cars, trucks, and many other vehicles. You know your ATV pretty darn well and you can’t recall having seen a fuel filter. Do all ATVs have fuel filters?
ATVs don’t always include fuel filters but it’s easy enough to add one. Whether your ATV needs a fuel filter is a fierce debate among ATV users, with some arguing the filters are beneficial and others insisting the filter is not necessary.
In today’s article, we’ll explain how ATV fuel filters work in detail, then talk further about whether your ATV has one. If you’re interested in using an ATV fuel filter, we’ll tell you how to replace it, so make sure you keep reading!
What Is a Fuel Filter?
Okay, so let’s take it from the top. When we refer to a fuel filter, what do we mean?
A fuel filter is a fuel line addition. As the name implies, it’s a filter that’s typically made of paper but can be produced from other materials as well. ATV fuel filters tend to be made of metal and look cylindrical.
Often recommended for internal combustion engines, the fuel filter catches particles such as rust, dirt, or debris. The particles can’t enter the fuel line, which keeps the fuel in pristine condition.
The quality fuel can course through your ATV and allow you to enjoy a smooth, effortless ride.
Fuel filters come in handy especially if using unfiltered fuel. By its very nature, unfiltered fuel tends to be full of contaminants, and not only one kind, either.
Rust is common in unfiltered fuel, especially if the fuel was kept in a steel tank that accumulated moisture.
Dirt can get into the fuel tank as it’s filling with unfiltered fuel, as can paint chips. With a fuel filter, none of this gets through.
Foregoing a fuel filter allows the above contaminants into the ATV’s fuel system. The particles can rub on the components of the injection system such as the injectors and fuel pumps, breaking them down more rapidly.
A fuel filter becomes less efficient each time it’s used, as it’s holding onto those contaminants so they don’t reach the fuel line. If the filter is dirty enough, then it can no longer catch contaminants, and so they flow right into your ATV fuel tank.
That’s why a fuel filter is not a one-and-done solution. Think of it like an air conditioning filter or a pool filter. Every couple of months, you need to check the filter and either clean it and put it back or replace it.
Do ATVs Have Fuel Filters? Where Would You Find the Filter?
Fuel filters certainly come in handy, but that doesn’t mean every type of vehicle necessarily has them. What about your ATV? Does it come with a fuel filter?
It might, but then again, it might not. That answer is not intended to be vague on purpose, but the inclusion of a fuel filter is dependent on the ATV’s make and model.
Some electronic fuel injection or EFI ATVs include a fuel filter, but they’re usually older models. Newer EFI vehicles will likely lack a fuel filter.
To confirm whether your ATV model has a fuel filter, we recommend checking your owner’s manual. The information should be available there.
If you bought your ATV used and it didn’t come with an owner’s manual, or you had the manual but lost it, then look up your ATV make and model online. You can surely find an internet copy of the owner’s manual in full.
Here is an example of what an ATV diagram looks like that includes a fuel filter. The filter is part 11 in the diagram.
If you see a similar diagram in your owner’s manual, then your ATV uses a fuel filter.
Where to Find Your ATV Fuel Filter
If reading the owner’s manual didn’t provide clarity on whether your ATV has a fuel filter, you have two choices. You can either directly contact the manufacturer, or you can check your ATV yourself.
We recommend both. After all, as the diagram from the paragraphs above shows, the ATV fuel filter is not always easy to spot.
So, where would you find the fuel filter? This is another answer that varies by ATV make and model.
For some Polaris ATVs, the fuel filter is underneath the front cargo box. For others, it’s beneath the side panel.
If you trace the fuel line of your vehicle to the carburetor and then the tank, you should be able to find it. That will help for other ATV makes and models outside of Polaris.
Even if you can locate your ATV’s fuel filter, keep in mind that not all filters are personally serviceable. You might have to take your ATV to a mechanic and ask them to clean or replace the fuel filter.
Do You Really Need a Fuel Filter?
After a thorough investigation, you concluded that your ATV doesn’t have a fuel filter. You talked to another ATV buddy of yours, and they said that their vehicle also doesn’t have a fuel filter and not to worry about it.
Does your ATV really need a fuel filter, or are you okay without one?
As we talked about in the intro, whether your ATV should use a fuel filter or not is a fierce debate among ATV riders.
While the filter wouldn’t be included with your ATV purchase if it didn’t come in handy, if your ATV make and model lacks a fuel filter, you don’t necessarily have to panic.
You’ll recall from earlier in this article that fuel filters are the most useful when adding unfiltered fuel to your ATV. This fuel has the most contaminants by far and thus needs the most filtering.
If you switch to filtered fuel for your ATV, then you won’t have to worry about paint chips or dirt getting into the fuel line. They won’t be in the fuel to begin with.
Additionally, you’ll also enjoy a higher-quality performance from your ATV, as there is indeed a correlation between ATV performance and fuel quality.
Many ATV users swear up and down that they’ve never used a fuel filter after riding ATVs for decades and that their vehicles were fine. There is some merit to this, but prioritizing quality fuel is something you must do each time you fill-up.
If you use lower-quality fuel even once without a fuel filter, you’ll wish you had the filter!
How to Replace an ATV Fuel Filter
Perhaps your ATV came with a fuel filter, and you’ve always used it because it’s there. Now the time has come to clean or replace the fuel filter, but you’re not sure how to go about doing it. Let this section be your guide.
Let’s dig a little deeper into each step!
Step 1 – Choose a Safe Place to Work In
For your safety, you want to dress in protective clothing when handling an ATV air filter, wearing goggles and gloves, as fuel vapors and liquid fuel could possibly splash on you.
It’s for that reason that you do not want to work near any fire sources or open flames when replacing your ATV air filter.
Step 2 – Drain Your Fuel Tank
Depending on where your ATV fuel filter is located, how you start the replacement process varies.
For instance, if your filter is near the fuel tank, you’ll have to empty the tank. That requires you to turn off the fuel valve near the fuel tank base and then empty the contents.
Step 3 – Detach the Filter
You’ll need needle-nose pliers in most cases to remove the clips that keep the fuel filter near the fuel line.
Step 4 – Clean the Filter
If your filter is reusable, then take it to a safe spot and lay out a clean cloth. Shake the filter over the cloth, which will send any fuel within the filter out.
You can then either rinse the filter and clean it with soap and water or moisten the filter with a damp microfiber cloth and clean it that way.
Step 5 – Put the Filter Back
Whether it’s a newly clean reusable filter or a replacement filter, insert the filter where you took it out and again rely on your needle-nose pliers to push the metal clips back into place.
ATVs do include fuel filters, although you’re likelier to see the inclusion of the filter in older models compared to newer ones.
A fuel filter prevents contaminants from entering the fuel line. These contaminants are very common when using unfiltered fuel. Switching to higher-quality fuel should suffice if your ATV doesn’t have a fuel filter.