What is Air Cleaner in Engine? Types of Air Cleaners.

In an Internal Combustion Engine, There are a lot of components used in an engine to achieve better performance. The air cleaner is also an important element used in an automobile vehicle to purify the incoming air from the atmosphere. In this article, I will discuss the types and definitions of air cleaners. 

Air Cleaners


What is air cleaner?
What is the air cleaner?

The fuel system provides a combustible air-fuel mixture to the engine. The mixing of air and fuel takes place in the carburetor. For the normal running of the petrol engine, one part of petrol requires 16 parts of air by weight. It is a great amount of air that passes through the carburetor to the engine in comparison to petrol. The air is likely to contain dust and dirt. If the air is not cleaned before it exerts the carburetor, the dust and dirt particles will seriously damage the engine. They will foul the carburetor parts and spark plug, and increase abrasive wear on the piston, piston rings, cylinder walls, bearings, and any relative moving parts. Therefore, the air must be cleaned before it enters the carburetor. For this purpose, an air cleaner is used. It is mounted on the air horn or air entrance of the carburetor. All air entering the engine through the carburetor must first pass through the air cleaner.

The air cleaner not only cleans the air by removing the dust and dirt particles but also muffles the noise resulting from the intake of air through the carburetor, muffle, and valve ports. In addition, the air cleaner acts as a flame arrester in case the engine backfires through the carburetor. Backfiring occurs at certain times due to the ignition of the air-fuel mixture in the cylinder before the intake valve closes. When this happens, there is a momentary flask back through the carburetor. The air cleaner prevents this flame from spreading through the carburetor and possibly igniting the petrol fumes outside the engine.

Types of air cleaners- 

Air cleaners are classified on the bases of principles of filtration and the nature of filtering material. The type of filter adapted for a particular engine depends upon the atmosphere in which the engine has to operate. The air cleaners generally used are of the following types:


  1. Oil bath-type air cleaner
  2. Dry-type air cleaner.
  3. Oil-wetted type air cleaner.
  4. Paper pleated type air cleaner.
  5. Centrifugal-type air cleaner.

Oil bath type air cleaner-

It is a heavy-duty air cleaner. It is designed in a variety of shapes. The type shown in the figure is designed to be placed on the top of the carburetor and to be clamped to the air horn. It consists of a filter element saturated with oil. At the bottom, there is a separate oil pan. The operation of air cleaning is carried out in two stages.

Oil bath type air cleaner.
Oil bath-type air cleaner

In the first stage, the airstrikes on the oil surface and then reverse upward into the filter element. The dust particles are applied to the soil surface and absorbed by it. In the second stage, the partly cleaned air passes through the filter element in which the remaining dust particles are retained. Finally, the cleaned air passes to the carburetor through the passage away.

Depending on the severity of the operation, this type of air cleaner is cleaned periodically. The filter is removed and cleaned carefully in petrol. The oil in the cleaner is also replaced.


Dry-type air cleaner- 

Dry-type air cleaner.
Dry-type air cleaner


It is a light-duty air cleaner. It consists of a cleaning element only and not an oil bath. The cleaning element is a specially pleated element, over which is put a fire mesh screen to provide strength. This cleaning element is enclosed in a silencing chamber. The figure shows the part of a dry-type air cleaner.


Oil-wetted type air cleaner-

Oil-wetted type air cleaner.
Oil-wetted type air cleaner


It consists of a filtering element generally wire mesh, coated with an oil film. The air passes through this element, and the dust particles of the air adhere to the oil film. This type of air cleaner should be cleaned periodically, about every 800 km, by washing the wire mesh in petrol or paraffin. After drying it properly, coat it with engine oil, allow it to drain, and again fit it for working.


Paper pleated type air cleaner- 

Paper pleated type air cleaner.
Paper pleated type air cleaner


It consists of a filtering element of the resin-impregnated paper. This type of air cleaner is made in the form shown in the figure. It has a high filtering efficiency. By pleating the paper element, a large filtering surface is provided and yet restriction of airflow is a minimum. The element should be cleaned periodically, about every 20,000 km.


Centrifugal type air cleaner- 

Centrifugal-type air cleaner.
Centrifugal-type air cleaner


The figure shows a centrifugal-type air cleaner. In this type of air cleaner, a whirling motion is given to the air due to which heavy dust particles are thrown out by the centrifugal force to the periphery of the casing, where they leave through slots. The main airflow passes through vanes set at an angle, to correct the airflow to a straight direction, and then enters the main air cleaner. The air is not perfectly cleaned by this cleaner and hence it acts as first stage cleaner on installations dealing with heavy dust concentrations. It is known as a centrifugal cleaner.



An air cleaner is the most important part of an engine. Air cleaner cleans the dirt particles coming from the atmosphere to the engine. The incoming air cleans the dirt from the atmosphere. In this article, I discuss the types of air cleaners. If you like this article then please follow my post. 


Frequently asked question

What are Fuel lines? 

The copper or steel tubes are used for connecting the fuel tank with the pump and the pump with the manifold. The tube connecting the fuel tank and the pump is fastened rigidly to the frame or body. 

What is an intake manifold?

The intake manifold is a cast iron or aluminum tube for carrying the air-fuel mixture from the carburetor to the engine intake port. A good design of the intake manifold consists of the path from the fuel pump to the cylinders being as short and smooth as possible. 

What is an induction air silencer? 

An induction air silencer is used to minimize the noise created due to the pulsating flow of air through the induction system. The silencer may be fitted in series with the air cleaner. 


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