Have you ever gone to replace your furnace filter and it was completely disgusting? Take that image, add mold and mildew to it, and now picture breathing directly through that filter. That is what you are doing when you don’t replace your cabin air filter regularly.
The cabin air filter, typically located behind the glove box, is designed to clean the air that comes from the engine compartment into the cab of the vehicle. It cleans pollen and other allergens from the air. The area where the filter is located can gather moisture, causing mildew & mold. On average, people spend almost 6 hours per week in their vehicle. If that filter becomes moldy and dirty it can be a direct cause of you and your family getting sick.
Some vehicles do not have a cabin air filter, but it is best to check and be sure. It is best to check the location where the filter should be located to confirm if the vehicle has a cabin air filter. Some vehicles have a location for the filter but do not come with one from the factory. It is possible to add a filter to the location, which is a very good idea if you live in an area that is very dusty, travel a lot through different climates, have allergies, etc.
Below are some key items to keep in mind about the cabin air filter:
- Confirm your vehicle has a cabin air filter
- Replace the cabin air filter every 15,000 miles or once per year
- Use an inexpensive filter
- Do not replace based on the filter being dirty; replace it time/mileage based
- Replace at the same time as the engine air filter (replace in pairs)
Remember, the goal of maintenance is to replace a component before it is past its’ useful life. When replacing a furnace filter, if it is dirty it has already started making your furnace work way harder to filter and push the air through the system. Your vehicle works the same in that if a component is past its’ useful life the vehicle is working way harder to operate. Keep an eye on your cabin air filter and inspect it often. If you park under a tree, live in a dusty climate, or have other environmental elements where you live that could make the filter get dirty faster you will want to replace it earlier.
Many people feel they are recommended to replace their filters EVERY time they take their vehicle in for service. Recommendations for this; find a shop you trust and go there for all your repairs and maintenance. It is easy to stop by the quick lube because you are in a hurry or go from shop to shop because of a special. The issue with this is that no one ever gets to know your vehicle. Therefore, mileage-based recommendations are either never performed because you, the client, feels like the shop is “just trying to sell you things” or they are performed more than needed because the shop doesn’t know if you have replaced them. When you go to the same shop they will be able to make better recommendations because they know the history of the vehicle, what you use the vehicle for, your family’s needs, etc.
The other way to know that your filters are being replaced at the right time is to go by the 1-year or 15,000-mile replacement. Honestly, you should not need to keep track of when your vehicle needs service so finding a shop you trust is key. There are too many services to keep track of between filters, fluids, spark plugs, alignment, shocks, struts, etc. that you want a shop giving you a maintenance plan. The maintenance should be simple and predicable, helping you create a budget to keep your vehicle in top condition in the most cost-effective manner possible.
We hope this helps you know and understand more about your cabin air filter as well as maintenance in general. Please reach out to us with any questions.