Cabin Air Filter; Missed and Forgotten Maintenance

Important Role of Cabin Air Filter

Cabin Air Filter: The Middle Child of Vehicle Maintenance

When you have a vehicle there are a lot of components and parts that need to be maintained. So it’s no surprise that some parts may be forgotten about or missed. However, that doesn’t make them any less important. Often-overlooked is your cars cabin air filter. Crucial to the overall health of your vehicles HVAC system, in addition, it also benefits individuals who ride in your car. Especially for occupants sensitive to smells or suffer from allergies. Due to the fact that cabin air filters are a fairly new feature on cars, many motorists aren't aware their vehicle has such a filter.

For instance, Chris Nolan, Star Auto Sales service advisor, recalls an experience he had with a customer. Chris advised the customer that their vehicle's cabin air filter needed to be replaced. The customer wasn't aware their vehicle had a cabin air filter as a result it had never been replaced. If you're like most drivers you're probably driving with the original filter and it’s likely clogged.

What Is A Cabin Filter

 Cabin air filters enhance the air quality inside your vehicle, creating a healthier, more comfortable environment for you and your passengers. 80% of newer vehicles come equipped with a cabin air filter. The best way to determine if your vehicle has a cabin air filter is to look in your owners manual. The cabin air filter is a small pleated filter made of paper or cotton material. There are two basic types of cabin air filters the particle-trapping type and the type that adds a charcoal layer for odor absorption. Most cabin air filters are flat panel filters and usually located behind the glove box. You can find the exact location for your cabin air filter in your owner’s manual.


Cabin Air Filter Compartment
Cabin Air Filter Faceplate

What Is A Cabin Filter's Purpose

Cabin air filters clean the air that comes into the car's interior through the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. These filters prevent air pollutants like dust, dirt, pollen, and exhaust gases from entering the passenger compartment. Besides trapping airborne pollutants, cabin air filters prevent bugs, leaves, and other debris from entering the HVAC system. Which prevents the fan and control doors from becoming jammed with debris. Most of these filters are highly efficient and do an excellent job of trapping even the smallest particles.

The filters efficiency is reduced when clogged, allowing dust, pollen, and other airborne pollutants into the cabin of the car. Subsequently, you and your passengers will breathe in that polluted air.

Our service advisor Chris Nolan routinely shows service customers their clogged cabin air filters as he recommends replacement. “I was breathing in air from that?” is the most common response from customers. 


Cabin Air Filter Pollutants

Why Replacing The Cabin Air Filter Is Important

A cabin filter in need of replacement affects the performance of your heating and air conditioning system.

“A clogged cabin air filter causes the vehicles HVAC system to work harder and the system’s motor could burn out” according to Jerry Allen, service manager at Star Auto Sales.

Neglecting to replace the cabin air filter can lead to HVAC problems including system failure. For example, a clogged filter will create air restriction consequently resulting in reduce airflow and output of your vehicle's HVAC system. A complaint of poor heating or cooling may be the result of a clogged filter that is overdue for replacement.

Another HVAC problem a dirty filter can cause is the growth of odor-causing mold.  Leaves and other debris can accumulate on the filter trapping moisture. Trapped moisture combined with nice warm engine air unintentionally creates a perfect bacteria/mold breeding ground. In this situation the moldy filter causes a musty smell to emanate through the air conditioning system.

Keep your vehicles HVAC system running smoothly and clean by having routine cabin air filter inspections and replacements.

At this time there are no warning alerts indicating when a replacement is needed. However, there are signs of a failing filter.

Dirty CAF
Dirty Cabin Air Filter

Warning Signs of a Clogged/ Dirty Cabin Air Filter

-Reduced air circulation inside your passenger compartment

-Diminished heating and air conditioning performance

-Musty odor in the cabin of the vehicle

-Cabin air intake duct may begin to make an unusual whistling sound

If you experience any of these problems you may want to have your vehicle’s cabin air filter checked.

When to Replace Your Cabin Air Filter

There other factors to consider when determining how often the filter needs to be replaced. Such as your typical driving conditions. Do you do most of your driving on dusty roads or in polluted areas? Do you suffer from severe allergies? In that case, you might want to replace your cabin air filter more frequently.

Cabin air filter replacement recommendations vary by manufacturer some say every 12,000 or 15,000 miles, others longer. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for specific service interval recommendations.

If you have any questions about your vehicles cabin air filter or service questions please contact our service department by phone, email or you can fill out this service contact form.

Star Auto Sales is proud to serve our customers with fair pricing and a wide variety of pre-owned vehicles. Additionally, we can help with other automotive needs in regards to financing, warranties, insurance products, and repair service. We promise you’ll find a friendly and family atmosphere and many vehicles to choose from.

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