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How to Oil A Nitro RC Air Filter

Just like a normal vehicle, your nitro RC car needs to be maintained if you want it to keep running every time you try to drive it. Depending on how often you drive your RC car, you’ll want to make sure your oil and your nitro RC air filter are inspected routinely. If you only drive it a few times a year, you can do these steps every couple of months. If you drive your nitro RC car pretty often, you should try to clean it every month. 

How do I oil a nitro RC air filter? 

•  Remove the air filter from your engine.

Remove the foam filter from the base. 

•  Rinse the foam filter with water and a little bit of soap and wait for it to dry. 

•  Apply your air filter oil specific to RC nitro engines.

•  Grab a plastic bag and put the air filter in there. Press on the filter a couple of times just to allow the oil to sink in. 

•  Then just put the foam filter back in the air filter, and you’re done!

These are the simple steps to oil a nitro RC air filter. Below is the reasoning behind why an air filter should be cleaned, a better explanation of the steps, and also some questions that get asked by RC drivers about their air filters. 

Why You Should Clean Your RC Air Filter

After racing your nitro RC for hours and hours, you will eventually need to clean the air filter in the car. Dirt, dust, and debris will build up over time and could clog the filter, which won’t allow the air filter to work properly. 

This could cause the engine to sputter due to lack of air. A dirty air filter will also cause your RC car to use more fuel and could make you lose power altogether. If you drive your RC off-road, it will require even more cleaning over time. Dirt and dust are more common in those environments.

How to Oil The RC Air Filter

The things you’ll need to clean the air filter are: 

•  Water

•  Soap

•  Paper Towels or Kitchen Towel (something to dry filter)

• Air Filter Oil Made specifically for RC

•  Plastic bag (optional)

Once you have these things, cleaning is simple. 

1. Locate the air filter from your engine on your nitro RC. Sometimes these air filters have a top on them, and in other cases, the foam is sitting right on top of the air filter. If yours has a top, it should be as simple as undoing it to get to the foam element. 

2. Remove the foam filter from the base. Some higher-end cars could have two filter elements on top of each other. You should be able to see which side the dirt comes in based on the coloring and debris in the foam.

3. Use water and a tiny bit of soap on the foam to clean all the dust and debris that is inside the foam. Use your towel to dry the foam before carrying on with the next steps. 

4. Apply about ten to fifteen drops of RC air filter oil to the element. These can be bought at hobby shops or DIY stores locally, or you can buy certain kinds like Traxxas Air Filter Oil on Amazon. 

5. This step is optional, but it’s a cleaner and more efficient option than the alternative. Grab a plastic sandwich-sized bag and drop your foam element in there. Close the bag and push on the filter to allow the oil to soak through all of the foam. You want the oil to evenly distribute itself. 

6. The last step is just to reinstall the foam filter into the base. Make sure there are no gaps between the two and then reattach the air filter onto the engine. 

Extra Tips for Cleaning

If you have a higher-end RC car, you might have two filter elements on top of each other to ensure better filtration.  In that case, remove both or just the top one if only that one is dirty.

While drying the filter, make sure the foam is not tearing or ripping at any point. These could cause cracks in the filtration process and not stop the dirt and dust as well as it’s supposed to.

The alternative to using a plastic bag is to squish it with your fingers to allow the oil to go through the foam, but this will squeeze oil out and get your fingers oily. If you’re out of bags or don’t mind the mess, you can easily do it with just your fingers. 

Can You Use WD-40 On The Air Filter?

Some forums and RC fanatics have sometimes said to use WD-40 before instead of air filter oil. It’s not recommended to do this as WD-40 is just too thin to really soak into the foam. Instead of it being able to really get into the element and protect it entirely, the WD-40 will just stay at the surface and you would be lucky to get any into the middle part of the foam. 

Any local hobby shop or DIY store air filter will work well. If you look on Amazon for any nitro air filter oil, any of these options will be better than using WD-40. 

How Often Should You Clean Your RC Air Filter?

If you’re using your nitro RC on a regular basis, there will have to be some consistent maintenance you do on it from time to time. The amount you have to clean depends on your use. Some air filter companies recommend that you clean after every hour of use. That might be a little bit excessive, and you probably don’t need to clean it that much. 

If your sessions last for long hours and you’re driving in the dirt and off-roading, it’s a good idea to clean it after that long session and any other long ones you do. If you only use your RC a couple of hours a month, then you might only have to clean it monthly. 

Some RC users take it out only a couple of times a year, which means it might be gathering more dust and dirt sitting in storage than actually in use. It is still recommended to clean it from time to time because of this. Even if it’s rarely used, you should take the time every quarter or so to do this quick process of cleaning. Doing this will ensure your engine will run smoothly when you are ready to give it a go. 

I Have More than Just An Element Inside the Filter. What Should I Do?

Some higher-end models of nitro RC cars can have more than just a simple air filter system. Most of the models’ basics work in primarily the same way. There are certain air filters that have a mesh lining at the top to keep the biggest pieces of dust and dirt from sinking into the foam. These almost always require you to get the foam out from the bottom instead of the top. Your first step will then be to take apart the filter from the bottom, and you should be able to proceed with the steps. 

If you have a dust screen on the outside of your air filter, this acts like another layer to protect the inner side of your air filter. You can take off this dust screen easily and clean it with oil the same way we do the filters within the filter. These dust screens actually end up protecting your engines and dramatically extend the lifetime of your engine. 

Watch a Pro

One of the best ways to learn how to clean and oil your air filter is to watch a pro do it. The video is a great how to for both cleaning and oiling it.

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There are many different types of nitro RC cars. All nitro RC cars need to have their air filters cleaned regularly in order to maintain proper performance. We now know the best way to clean the different types of air filters, and how often they should be cleaned.

We know the items we need to clean the filters, and what items we should not use. If you keep your air filter clean and do regular maintenance your nitro RC car will stay running for a long time and always be ready for you when you are ready for it!