The combustion engine is one of the greatest developments in engineering. A good understanding of the working systems in important for the amateur enthusiast and the professional mechanic. You might be wondering “is oil a good thing on an air filter?” Let us clear the air here. You might find oil on your engine air filter as a result of blow due to some wear of the piston rings. We are not talking about that. We need to look into the oil added to the air filter for effective operation. Confusing? Sometimes it is the difference between a clogged engine and a well working engine. Air is normally full of dust and dirt particles. This is especially in cases of outdoor racing and dirt biking. The engine is engineered to use the piston vacuum to suck up this air so that it can be combined with fuel. This is where the synthetic oil will come in handy. It is of great importance in trapping dust particles in the air intake system thus keeping your engine clean and working at optimum conditions.
Synthetic Oils vs. Plant-Based Oils
Synthetic oils are manufactured in labs to fit the prevailing conditions of the air filtration system. This means they can withstand extremely high temperatures without degrading in properties such as viscosity. Best synthetic oils are manufactured to fit different air filter materials. On the other hand, plant-based oils are biodegradable and non-toxic. Also, it is easier to clean and reuse an air filter element saturated with plant based oil as opposed to synthetic oil. In addition when plant based oils are used, the foam in the air filter will degrade more slowly. This withstanding, you should not forget the superior air cleaning qualities of the synthetic oils. They tend to be stickier and thus trap more dust. Also in terms of quantity, very little synthetic oil is needed to last quite some period on a dusty track.
Ordinary motor oil
Use of ordinary motor oil on air filters is quite unconventional but I do a better job than using nothing at all. It will also save you a lot especially if your budget does not allow you to purchase air filter oils. Unfortunately, there is a catch here, motor oil is not suited to the air movements in the air box, it will therefore be unevenly distributed leaving some sections completely exposed to let in dust into the engine. Due to a lower stickiness index, it will tend to be sucked into the intake manifold. This is not good for the engine as it will interfere with the correct fuel air ratios for complete burning thus loss of power. This should tell you that air filter oil has a lot of added substances to cope with these problems.
Air filter oil cleaners
Some air cleaner forms are designed to last very long and are thus more expensive. It would be uneconomical to throw away the filter foams when clogged with dust and particles. Most cleaners are solutions that break down the oils for easier cleaning. The filter will still need thorough washing with soap and water. As for the plant-based oils that are not very tacky, detergents do the trick. Gasoline also has a property that makes it break down even the stickiest air filter oils. The trick is to use just enough to protect eating away of rubber seals and deterioration of the foam. Thus gasoline cleaning should be used sparingly.
Tackifiers and alcohol
Most air filter synthetic oils will usually contain a tackifier which is a substance that makes it stickier. The catch here is that it gets thicker thus more difficult to penetrate into the foam effectively. Attaining a thinner oil might call for some isopropyl alcohol additive. It thins the oil making it penetrate the foam deeper and easier to apply. Extra drying time is needed when alcohol is added so that it dries to prevent suction into the engine. We also know that this is a fire hazard even in transportation and storage. No-Toil, this is a company that has come up with an oil that can temporarily bond with water. It is easy to apply into the deeper sections of the foam. The only disadvantage is the longer period taken for the oil to dry, but it a small price to pay.