The Importance of Your Motorhome’s Engine Air Filter 86

When it comes to maintaining a motorhome’s engine, most people focus on oil changes—making sure they’re done on schedule.

Changing your engine air filter on a regular basis is just as important. Here’s why.

The Engine Air Filter Is the Number One Defense Against Dust & Dirt

Class A Thor Motor Coach Freedom Travel A27 gas RV
Image from Camping World

Modern motorhome engines, just like automobile engines, are built with very specific tolerances. Any dirt or dust introduced into the system, no matter how minimal, is going to lower the performance of your engine.

Dirt in an engine is extremely abrasive. The tolerances referenced above mean each component of an engine is engineered and manufactured with precision accuracy, so each piece fits and moves perfectly within the system.

Engine air filters have a limit to how much dirt and dust they can filter. As they get older and more clogged, more dirt is going to get through to sensitive engine parts.

When dirt is introduced, the seal and fit of engine components degrade more and more, decreasing the power and efficiency of your engine.

Engines on Less Developed Roads Need More Filtration

It’s one thing for an engine to be running down the interstate for hundreds of miles at a time. It’s a different situation in the places some people try to get with their motorhomes.

You may be looking for open land and fresh air at your destination, but the journey can be harmful to your engine.

Whether it’s a local campground with unpaved sites, boondocking on public lands, or trekking deep into state parks, kicking up the dirt around you will introduce more contaminants close to your engine air intake.

Without a clean engine air filter, that dirt and dust won’t just end up on your hiking boots. It’ll make its way into sensitive engine compartments.

A Clogged Engine Air Filter = Reduced Performance in Every Way

A Class C motorhome driving
Image by Sean Pierce from Camping World

So what do we mean by “reduced performance?” This can manifest itself in several ways.

Lower Fuel Efficiency

Fuel is one of the top expenses when it comes to RVing, and in the most basic sense, fuel + air is what moves your motorhome down the road.

When airflow to the engine is reduced by a clogged air filter, there’s simply no way it’s running as efficiently as possible. When it needs to work harder, you’re just burning more fuel.

Slower Acceleration

While we’re not expecting to go 0-60 like a sports car, slower acceleration can be not only frustrating but dangerous.

A clogged air filter can cause an engine and motorhome to feel sluggish—slow to respond to the gas pedal.

Anyone who’s driven an RV knows how much extra time and space you need to pull into traffic. The worst-case scenario here is that you start pulling out of a parking lot and the motorhome just doesn’t respond as quickly as you expect, disrupting cars on the main road and putting you in danger of a collision.

Less Towing Power

Many motorhome owners tow another vehicle, or “toad,” so they can leave their RV at the campground and easily get around. Some tow boats, 4x4s, or equipment for other outdoor activities.

As we know by this point, a clogged air filter means a less efficient engine—something you’ll definitely feel when you need more torque to pull that second vehicle along.

This is only made worse if you’re traveling in the mountains with lots of uphill pulls to get to your eventual destination.


Your motorhome’s engine air filter is an often-overlooked component that needs to be replaced on a regular schedule. Keep it clean and you’ll have no problem getting your RV anywhere you want to go.

The importance of your motorhome's engine air filter

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