• Ashley Bradish

Cabin Air Filters: A Breath of Fresh Air

Updated: Aug 2

Air quality is essential to your health and experience in a vehicle.

Think back to the post-pandemic days of the taxi. A taxi would pick up dozens and dozens of people a day, and you could tell.

Remember the smells and lack of airflow? Imagine that in your car! Would you be comfortable driving in a vehicle like that? Neither would most people- that's why we have cabin air filters!

What does a cabin air filter do?

Your cabin air filter cleans the air that comes into your car through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

It catches dust, pollen, and other airborne substances that make rides unpleasant. The cabin air filter is powerful against allergies and respiratory issues.

Quality Automotive Technician Replacing a Cabin Air Filter

How often should I change my cabin air filter?

Most vehicles should have their cabin air filters cleaned every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. But our Vice President, John Stanley, says you should change your filter every six months. Getting them checked with every oil change isn't a bad idea either.

His reason for checking them so often is that the lifespan of cabin air filters can vary for many reasons. It's hard to know when to replace them if you are not checking.

But these estimates do not apply to every vehicle. How long your cabin air filter will last depends on how often and where you drive. Areas with high pollution or dust will shorten the lifespan of your filter.

If you're not sure whether it's time to replace your cabin and air filters, look for these signs:

  1. Reduced airflow

  2. Persistent bad odors

  3. The vehicle's heating and cooling start making excessive noise

  4. You hear a whistling sound coming from the intake ducts

  5. You can see particles or smoke

It is good to clean your cabin air filter. But after a while, you do need to replace it.

Dirty and Old Cabin Air Filter

How can I make my cabin air filter last longer?

There are plenty of components that can shorten the lifespan of a cabin air filter. Common causes include cigarette smoke, spray products, and driving through polluted areas.

Each manufacturer is going to have different recommendations on filters. Reviewing your owner's manual will give you a better estimate based on the make and model.

Again, where you drive has a significant impact, as well. If you travel in populated areas with low-quality air, you'll have to change your filters more often. But, if you drive in isolated areas with cleaner air, you'll be able to replace them less often.

Removing the Glovebox to Reach the Cabin Air Filter

Why do I need to change my cabin air filter?

Old and dirty cabin air filters are bad for you and your car. They won't catch pollutants going into your cabin, which will cause allergic reactions and breathing problems. Especially with spring allergies just around the corner!

Another issue with dirty cabin air filters is an ineffective HVAC. The heating and cooling system will struggle to break through the pollutant build-up. Having to crank the HVAC to compensate for the inefficiency can cause the blower motor to burn out.