When to Replace Your Cabin Air Filters

Posted Friday, Jan 18, 2019

cabin air filter replacement in Hemet, CA at VIP AutosI called a good friend of mine to ask when will I get an invite to see his new house?

He said ” You will if it doesn’t burn down” needless to say my friend and his family live in the San Marcos area. The following day the smoke was blown into our valley affecting our air quality.

Although the air quality in Hemet is good according to statewide air quality reports the smoke from the fires made it difficult to breath for a lot of people in our valley including Yours Truly, only to find relief inside or in my car with the cabin air filter.

This leads me to our topic of the day; When to replace our cabin air filters.

The cabin air filter, a feature found on most late-model vehicles, cleans the air that comesinto the interior through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It catches dust, pollen and other airborne material that can make riding in a car unpleasant, particularly if you have allergies or other respiratory problems like I do and did from the fires.

Recommendations on when it should be replaced vary by manufacturer — some say every 12,000 or 15,000 miles, others longer — and how often can depend on how much you drive and where. Check the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. If you drive in heavy traffic in an urban area that has poor air quality, you could need to replace the filter annually or even more often. However, that also could be true in a desert climate where there is a lot of dust.

Some signs that you need a new cabin air filter are reduced air flow through your HVAC system, such as when you crank up the fan too high and you get more noise than results.

Another is persistent bad odors. Even if you don’t have these warnings, you should have the filter checked at least once a year, and you may be able to do that yourself.

Many cabin air filters are located behind the glove box and are easily accessible by freeing the glove box from its fasteners (instructions should be in the owner’s manual). Others are located under the dashboard and may not be easy to reach, or under the hood where fresh air enters the HVAC system. Some of these filters are expensive, as in $50 or more at dealerships, so you could save money by buying a replacement at a parts store and doing it yourself.

If a dealership service department or repair shop recommends you get a new cabin air filter, ask to see the current one. Depending on how long the filter has been in service, you might be shocked at what you see: leaves, twigs, insects, soot and grime that literally cover the entire surface that comes in contact with incoming air. You’ll know it’s time for a new cabin air filter.

So hope this tip gives you a breath of fresh air.