What to Know About Your Car’s Cabin Air Filter

Ever wonder how you’re able to have clean, fresh air inside your vehicle for an entire trip, with all the windows up?

Most motorists and passengers never think about how they are able to breathe clean air while inside a vehicle. The cabin air filter is something many take for granted or are not aware of at all.

However, it is something that should be checked and replaced when necessary. Otherwise, the health of those inside the car may be at risk, the HVAC system will struggle to operate properly (which can cause damage to your engine as well), and unpleasant odors may fill the inside, among other problems.

What is the Cabin Air Filter?

Helping protect people inside the car from contaminants, the cabin air filter is a key component of a vehicle’s heating and cooling system. As air conditioning and heating systems draw air from the outside, the cabin air filter helps extract harmful pollutants, including emissions from other cars, smog, mold spores, pollen, dust, and more—before the driver and passengers breathe the air.

Besides being conducive to respiratory health generally, the cabin air filter is also important for passengers who have allergies or other specific issues.

This small, pleated filter may be made of paper, synthetic material, or multi-fiber cotton that traps contaminants and debris before they can enter the inside of the vehicle. Naturally, over time, the filter gets dirty, and air will not flow as freely.

Where You Can Find It

Typically, the cabin air filter may be found behind the glove box and is accessible via a removable panel or faceplate. Some vehicles may house the cabin air filter under the hood. If you have difficulty locating it, check your owner’s manual.

The space that houses the filter may also require cleaning, perhaps with a vacuum cleaner, to remove dust and debris such as leaves.

When to Change It

Each manufacturer has different recommendations for mileage intervals at which to change the cabin air filter, so it is advisable to check the owner’s manual, but under normal conditions, about once a year is typical. Of course, if you drive more than the average motorist does, or you drive in a very polluted or dusty area, you may need to check the filter and change it more frequently.

Pay attention to your car for signs that you may need to change the cabin air filter. If bad odors persist inside the vehicle, or you are getting reduced air flow—along with louder noise—from vents, check the filter.

If you are concerned about making sure your filter is replaced correctly, consider taking your vehicle to a location of Milex Complete Auto Care, a full-service auto repair shop. You may wish to have your filter checked and replaced while there for other routine maintenance.

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