Cabin Air Filters

Engine Air Filter vs. Cabin Air Filter

These two terms might sound fairly interchangeable if you don’t know much about cars. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way they are most definitely not. If you were to type “What does a car air filter do?” in any search engine the first results that might pop up typically concern engine air filters. I wanted to know more about cabin air filters, but didn’t understand the difference. Well, I’m here to share my knowledge and hopefully prevent you from making the same mistake.

Engine Air Filters Are Important for Your Car

Cars and humans are quite similar. They both require clean air to work properly. Engine air filters are located under your car hood and help your engine breathe. Sounds sort of crazy, right? It’s true though.

According to, “for each gallon of fuel burned, the engine uses up to 10,000 gallons of air.” No wonder it’s important to change the engine air filter in your car! If you aren’t providing your car with proper air ventilation and protection you’re bound to have more wear and tear on your engine.

Increase, Reduce, Extend

It’s essential to replace your engine air filter. Here are some reasons why:

  • Dirty air filters can choke your car engine.
  • Increased fuel efficiency. Studies have shown improved air flow to the engine increases engine performance and gas mileage on older cars.

    US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Pie Chart
    Image via EPA.
  • Reduce greenhouse gases by minimizing car emissions.
  • Extend engine life. Foreign particles can potentially wear away at important metal parts such as piston rings, cylinders and engine bearings if dirty air is allowed to enter the engine’s intake system.
  • Clean engine air filters contribute to green initiatives.

Save Money

Your engine air filter should be checked every 12,000 to 15,000 miles to ensure peak performance. If dirty, then it should be changed before you begin throwing away money on unnecessary car repairs. Individuals who live in rural areas with dusty, dirt roads or heavily polluted areas will have to change their air filters more often. Changing the air filter on your car should be part of a routine maintenance schedule.

Dirty Engine Air Filter vs Clean Engine Air FilterDirty Engine Air Filter
Image via Jack’s Small Engines.

When you increase the amount of air entering the engine you get more miles per gallon, which helps you save money. Research has shown replacing dirty car air filters can increase gas mileage by 10 percent in older vehicles (pre-1999) and could even save 15 cents per gallon.

Join the Green Movement

Clean engine air filters contribute to green initiatives by burning less fossil fuels and reducing vehicle emissions. If your car is acting sluggish or looses engine power suddenly, then you may need to change your air filter. A word of caution: cheap, low-qualifying filters are typically less efficient and may not have as much holding capacity as a quality brand name filter.

Replace It Yourself

If you want to save a couple bucks and are interested in learning more about cars, then you might consider changing your engine air filter yourself. Filters are relatively inexpensive and are easy to find online or in a local auto parts store. Always make sure the replacement engine air filter you’re using is recommended for your exact make and model of car. Filters may look almost identical, but can differ by a fraction of an inch in length. This may not seem to make a big difference, but it could cause your filter to malfunction and allow unfiltered air to enter the car engine.

There are two common vehicle air filters. They are panel and round. The correct way to inspect a panel air filter, or a round air filter in an older vehicle, is to remove the filter from its housing and hold a shop light behind it. A little discoloration is normal, but if the filter is dark and blocks the light, it is overdue for a change.

For a step by step process on how to change your car air filter check out

Cabin Air Filters are Essential to YOUR Health!

The location of your cabin air filter varies depending on the make and model of your car. The best way to find out where your filter may be located is by checking out your owner’s manual. A fairly recent development, cabin air filters may be your gateway to healthier driving. If you’ve noticed your allergies seem to act up more when you’re driving or you tend to get headaches anytime you’re in your car, then it’s probably time to change your cabin air filter.

Cabin air filters should be replaced about every year or 12,000 to 15,000 miles depending upon the quality of air in your area. These filters remove allergens and pollutants before they enter the vehicle, which is a definite boon for those concerned about their health. Another benefit to cabin air filters is they prevent bugs, leaves and other debris from entering your car’s heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.

Here’s why you should change your cabin air filter:

  • A good quality air filter will trap at least 97.5 percent of incoming dirt.

    Dirty vs. Clean Cabin Air Filter
    Image via Shade Tree Garage.
  • Some of the particulates cabin air filters capture are pollen, exhaust soot, bacteria, insecticides and mold spores.
  • They minimize interior heating and cooling problems.
  • You may actually be breathing in more pollutants and particles riding in your car than if you were walking down the street because your cabin air filter is too dirty to do its job. Scary stuff.

If you’d like to know more, Popular Mechanics has a great article on how to change your cabin air filter yourself.

Not sure how to find a cabin air filter for your car? carries a variety of cabin air filters for over 30 automobile makers. We offer free shipping and returns as well as excellent customer service.

Why not change your cabin air filter and start breathing better today? Your lungs will thank you.

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