A Beginner's Guide to Cabin Air Filters

A Beginner's Guide to Cabin Air Filters

19th Feb 2021

vehicle interior

What are Cabin Air Filters?

The cabin air filter is an essential part of your vehicle's heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system. Like all air filters, it's designed to remove contaminants from the air. Not all drivers are familiar with the cabin air filter, though. It's typically found behind the glove box where it goes unnoticed. Nonetheless, you'll still need to change your vehicle's cabin air filter on a regular basis. To learn more about cabin air filters, keep reading. 

About Cabin Air Filters

Cabin air filters are similar to the air filters used in residential air conditioning systems. They consist of a mesh screen -- typically made of fiberglass or cotton strands -- that's able to catch particulate matter. Air can still through them, but dust and other particulate matter will accumulate on the surface of a cabin air filter. When you turn on the air inside your vehicle, it will pass through the filter before being expelled out the vents.

Importance of the Cabin Air Filter

While it won't affect the performance of your vehicle, the cabin air filter is still important. A dirty cabin air filter, for instance, will result in a higher level of airborne contaminants inside of your vehicle's cabin. The air may contain more pollen, mold, dust and other contaminants. Some people, of course, are allergic to certain airborne contaminants such as these.

Regularly replacing your vehicle's cabin air filter will also protect the HVAC system from wear and tear. If the cabin air filter is dirty, your vehicle's HVAC system may lack the necessary airflow to heat or cool the air. Automotive HVAC systems require airflow to work properly. A dirty cabin air filter will restrict airflow, which may wear down your vehicle's HVAC system.

Replacing the Cabin Air Filter

To protect against airborne pollutants, as well as damage to your vehicle's HVAC system, you should replace the cabin air filter according to the automaker's recommendations. Your vehicle's owner manual should state the type of cabin air filter to use and how often to replace it. 

Most automakers recommend changing the cabin air filter once every 10,000 miles, while others recommend changing it once every 20,000 miles. Regardless, you should refer to your vehicle's owner manual to determine how often the cabin air filter needs changing.

Replacing the cabin air filter requires a little work. Assuming it's behind the glove box, you'll typically have to remove a set of fasteners to access it. Once accessed, you can take out the old cabin filter and replace it with a new cabin filter of the same type. Make sure to use the right tools. We recommend the Steelman Speed Wrench to assist you with removing the fasteners.