Even if you roll up your windows, particulates may get into the cabin of your vehicle as you are driving; they may fly in from the outside, through your vehicle’s heating, AC, and ventilation systems. So, what is to protect you from such elements? Your Cabin Air filter. Most later model vehicles are equipped with one designed to filter the air accessing the cabin of your vehicle – hence, the name.
These particulates can include potentially harmful, airborne irritants such as dust, dirt, debris, pet dander, tobacco smoke, pollen and more. At the very least, they may make your driving experience less comfortable, but they may be even more dangerous if you or your passengers are allergic to certain elements, or have a respiratory condition that can worsen as a result of inhaling them. This is one major reason why most modern cars come equipped, out of the factory, with cabin air filters that catch these particles to keep the cabin’s air fresh and clean. (Even if your vehicle is not equipped with a cabin air filter, it may have an area for housing one.)
There are a number of different types of filters designed to simply capture such particulates while others, like Charcoal and Electrostatic filters go one step further by eliminating orders along with other benefits.
Like all air filters, cabin air filters will need to be replaced based on manufacturer’s recommendations – it is typical to see filter replacement windows of 12 months, 12,000 miles,15,000 miles.. These windows are determined according to a maintenance schedule that is set by the filter’s manufacturer, but may need to be adjusted depending on the environment in which the vehicle typically operates. Dusty, desert-like areas, and heavily trafficked urban areas whose air quality is poor might require that the cabin air filter be replaced once or more a year.
Your owner’s manual should have directions on where to find the cabin air filter and on how to replace it. Oftentimes, your cabin air filter is located behind your vehicle’s glove box or under your dashboard, but some filters are installed under the hood and may not be as easy to get to access.
Most user manuals for cabin air filters would ask that you check your cabin air filter once or more a year but, as a rule of thumb, you may want to consider replacing your cabin air filter when odors/pollen starts coming in or if you think your air isn’t blowing as hard as it normally does.
In most cases, not all, swapping out your cabin air filter is a quick job – taking 5-10 minutes to complete.