Why would I care about good air quality in my house but not in my car? Doesn’t make much sense. Because, believe it or not, in my car I’m exposed to irritating pollens, harmful particles, and—worse—exhaust that can sometimes come through the windows or engine. So it’s important I have a filter in place to protect my son and me when we’re outside of the house, traveling, too.
While not all cars are equipped with them, most newer vehicles are built with cabin air filters, which is making people like myself a lot happier. But what are the different types of filters? How often do they need to be replaced? Your mechanic will replace your other filters, but you might not visit the mechanic often enough to keep your air filter in tip-top shape.
Deciding You Need to Replace Your Filter
Where you live has a lot to do with how often you’ll want to replace your cabin air filter. If you live in industrial areas, or in an area of high air pollution, you’ll want to replace your filter more often. Same goes if you have pets that travel in the car often. Also think about the quality of roads you generally drive on: are there dirt roads that churn up air particles? If so, you’ll want to check your filter often.
Locating Your Cabin Filter
Check your owner’s manual to find out the location of the filter. Locations vary in different car models, but you can expect to find the filter either in the outside air intake—visible with the hood up—or under the dashboard above the blower or between the blower and HVAC. If you’re still having trouble, your mechanic will be able to point this out to you.
Choosing a Cabin Filter
With several different types of cabin filters on the market, you’re going to see differentiation in price and quality. The carbon filters are going to be the best quality, but they tend to be more expensive. I’m always going to err on the side of too much prevention, personally—so that’d be my choice. Make sure you’re vacuuming the air filter if it goes too long without a change and you can’t afford to switch it in the meantime.
DiscountFilters created a very handy cabin air filter finder that points you right to the correct cabin air filter for your vehicle. Below is screenshot of part of the finder.
Replacing a Cabin Filter
Once you’ve located the cabin filter, the process will vary depending on the location of the filter. For this, I’d recommend checking out this article to know how to change the filter in the various locations. Sometimes this will involve removing or moving certain parts of your car for easier access.
When Your Cabin Filter Is Too Old
When a cabin filter is used past its recommended warranty date, it’s likely that it has become clogged with debris and larger particles. This greatly reduces the functionality of the filter. When that happens, it’s doing you harm, and it’s time for a change. Pay attention to this more if you live in an area with compromised air quality.
You spend a lot of time in your car—more than you think. And it’s when I’m traveling that I’m exposed to the varying degrees of air contamination, so I’d argue that this is when it’s most important for me to have a filter system that’s clean and efficient. You should, too.
Image courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net