How Often To Change Cabin Air Filter?

A car’s cabin filter constitutes the air conditioning system. That explains why sometimes some people refer to it as an air conditioning system. Often, these filters are made of cotton or paper material. They get rid of air pollutants before they find their way into your vehicle’s cabin. Clogged or dirty cabin filters negatively affect the efficiency of your car’s air conditioning system. Before looking at how often to change the cabin air filter, let’s first look at its main purpose of it.

What is Cabin Air Filter and its Purpose

A cabin air filter is a device found on most late-model cars whose main work is to clean the air that comes inside through the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. It catches airborne material such as pollen and dust that can make your riding unpleasant, especially if you have respiratory problems or allergies.

If you do not change the cabin air filter of your ride, it will be clogged with debris and dirt, which means that the efficiency of both the filter and your vehicle’s HVAC system shall be compromised. The other effect of failing to replace a cabin air filter is that the air volume in the passenger compartment will be reduced drastically, which certainly leads to foul odors inside the car.

If you want to dramatically enhance the quality of air inside your car, then you need to check your cabin air filters regularly.

Read Also: Car overheats when AC is on and idle [ Symptoms and Solutions]

How Often To Change Cabin Air FilterNote: There’s a huge difference between a cabin air filter and an air filter. The main job of an air filter is to sanitize the air that gets into the engine in order to burn fuel. On the other hand, the main job of a cabin air filter is to sanitize the air that emanates from your car’s vents. Understanding this difference is very important.

So what vehicles have cabin air filters? All latest-model cars feature cabin air filters. Latest-model cars are those that were manufactured after the year 2000. Chances are very high that most of the cars that were manufactured before this time lack cabin air filters. Be sure to check your car’s manufacturer’s manual for verification of the same.

When to Replace Cabin Air Filter

An unusual odor and poor airflow are the two major indications that it is time to replace your car’s cabin air filter. Because they essentially work in the same fashion as a normal engine air filter, these devices can get dirty and hence need regular replacement. You can replace them when they are excessively contaminated or at the scheduled service interval recommended by your car’s manufacturer.

How often to change the cabin air filter is determined by many factors. Replace the cabin air filter when you notice any of the following:

engine problems symptoms

Poor airflow – Poor flow of air from the car’s interior vents is the most common symptom that’s associated with a clogged cabin air filter. If your vehicle’s cabin air filters are excessively contaminated, it’ll not be able to effectively filter the incoming air as a clean filter would. Consequently, this causes a restricted flow of air to the AC system. On top of that, it causes the vents to blow with less force hence reducing the general cooling ability of the AC system. It also places extra stress on the AC blower motor.

Unusual odor – A strange emanating from your car’s interior vents is another indication of a failing or bad cabin air filter. Excessively contaminated air filters produce a musty, dirty, or unpleasant smell. The smell becomes more pronounced whenever the air is turned on, thereby making the cabin highly uncomfortable for passengers.

Reduced power output from your engine – As aforementioned, clogged cabin air filters put an additional strain on the system’s blower motor. The extra strain causes the blower motor to work harder. Secondly, it blows less air than it ought to. Because of the higher electricity demand, it also places extra stress on the engine. In the most severe cases, the additional strain results in a noticeable reduction of power whenever you turn the AC on.

Increased cabin temperature – One of the effects of a timeworn air conditioning unit that has reduced airflow is that it is not able to maintain steady cabin air temperatures. Of great importance to note is that the rise in air temperature as a result of a contaminated cabin filter might be significant or gradual. It depends on the extent of clogging and other factors like the outside temperature as well as the amount of sunlight that’s heating the air passing through the windows. As the air temperature begins to rise, your vehicle’s AC cannot produce adequate cool air to moderate the temperatures.

Read Also: Why is My Car Air Conditioner Not Blowing Cold Air?

Different car manufacturers recommend different periods to change your cabin air filter. While that might be the case, the most common is after every 12,000 miles. You can also change yours at least once per year when you go for service.

When the pollen or dusty season sets in, it’s prudent to check the filters more often.

Some of the benefits of changing the cabin air filter regularly include the following:

  • Optimum cabin temperatures
  • Optimal power output from the engine
  • Fresh air circulation in the car

Cabin Air Filter Change Cost

Cabin air filters cost between $15 – $25. As for labor, expect to part with $36 – $46. Therefore, for both labor and parts, you shouldn’t spend more than $100.

High-end cars such as BMW and Mercedes Benz definitely cost higher. For some BMWs, you can only buy the filters from certain dealerships.

The make and model of your car is the main determinant of the cost of having your cabin air filters changed.

Read Also: How Often To Change Engine Air Filter?

Final Words

How often to change the cabin air filters is something that every car owner should know. Although a cabin air filter is a simple component within your car’s architecture, replacing it when it’s faulty is necessary to make sure the AC system works as optimally as needed. Regular checking and replacing go miles to make sure that the cabin part of the ride is as comfortable as possible for all passengers. Do you suspect that your cabin filter is dirty? If yes, then you need to inspect it or have a professional technician do it for you. Doing so helps determine if your ride is due for a replacement of the cabin air filter.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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