January 11

What Is A Cabin Air Filter And When Should I Get It Replaced?

The importance of fresh air in your car is often overlooked. While you’re focusing on the brakes and engine, your deteriorating cabin filter may be silently polluting your environment. Poor air quality can exacerbate existing conditions such as allergies and asthma. If you experience a noticeable change in your vehicle’s air quality while driving, you may have an issue with your cabin air filter. We can replace or repair your cabin air filter and restore fresh air to your car. 

What the Cabin Air Filter Does

The cabin air filter is part of your vehicle’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. One function of the HVAC system is to ensure the continuous circulation of clean air within the car’s interior. The cabin air filter is tiny, but it plays an important role. The small filter is made of paper or nonwoven fabric. It traps pollutants from the outside air, so you don’t have to inhale them in the car. 

Filtering external pollutants isn’t just about keeping you and your passengers healthy. The cabin air filter is critical to the engine’s functioning as well. Clean air cannot reach the engine when the air filter isn’t working correctly. The filter is a barrier against bacteria, exhaust, dust, dirt, and pollen. At the same time, it keeps larger threats, such as bugs and debris, from clogging the vehicle’s ventilation system. 

Not all cabin air filters are the same. Most new vehicles have basic cabin air filters, but carbon filters are more advanced and use adsorption to stop gases, chemicals, and bad smells from penetrating your vehicle. Another superior cabin air filter is the high-efficiency particulate air filter, which can trap the tiniest dust particles. 

When You Should Replace Your Cabin Air Filter

One of the first signs that you should replace your cabin air filter is when you start to have an allergic reaction to pollen and dust, even when the vehicle’s doors and windows are shut. This may mean the cabin air filter is no longer working well enough to prevent pollen dust from entering the vehicle’s cabin. Another sign is when the air conditioning and heating systems are less effective. Cold air may not reach the back seat, or the car may take longer to warm up. 

You may also notice a damp, musty smell when entering the car. Air fresheners may temporarily improve the scent, but they’re not a substitute for a cabin air filter. In later stages, the internal ducts in the cabin will start to make a whistling sound as unchecked debris moves through them instead of purified air. 

Even if there are no signs that you need to replace your cabin air filter, it’s reasonable to do so every year. More frequent replacements are recommended if you suffer from allergies or routinely drive through polluted areas with poor air quality. It’s a good idea to bring your vehicle in for an air filter check every 10,000-12,000 miles because no system indicator will let you know when the cabin air filter needs to be replaced. 

To confirm that your air filter is the culprit behind your car’s odd smell, vacuum your car’s seats and carpet and check the cup holders for mold and old food. You can also have your local car service center examine the vehicle’s weather stripping to ensure that the outdoor air isn’t seeping through a loose seal. If none of these problems exist, it’s time to replace the cabin air filter.

How To Replace Your Cabin Air Filter

Replacing a cabin air filter can be tricky, even if it doesn’t take a long time. If you want to ensure the replacement is done correctly, one of our technicians can remove your old air filter and install a new one. Otherwise, if you insist on installing the air filter yourself, stop by Huffines Kia Corinth to purchase a cabin air filter compatible with your vehicle first. Make sure you install the air filter safely by wearing safety goggles. You should also park your car on a flat surface before you start working. 

The cabin air filter is usually located behind the glove box. Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, you might have to use a screwdriver to remove the glove box. Consult with a professional first because, in some cases, the cabin air filter is only accessible from under the car’s hood. Your vehicle’s manual may also highlight the location of the cabin air filter. 

The new air filter should match your car’s specifications. Your vehicle’s user manual may indicate a specific part number, and you can cross-reference the part number with our replacement parts inventory. Once you’ve confirmed the filter’s compatibility, consider selecting a filter that’s easy to clean and install. Filters that can be wiped or vacuumed last longer than cabin air filters that cannot be cleaned. Air filters that use baking soda or static electricity only offer a slight improvement over the standard version.

When you prepare to remove the old air filter, snap a quick photo of its original installation position with your phone. This will help you to place the new cabin air filter accurately. Arrows on the filter will also indicate the correct airflow direction. Use a small vacuum to remove dust or debris surrounding the old air filter. Finally, reinstall the glove box or close the car’s hood. Feel free to drive by our service center in Corinth, Texas, if you’re concerned about the quality of your DIY air filter replacement. 

Contact Us for Cabin Air Filter Replacement Services

Fresh air is not and shouldn’t be a luxury. We’re experts in diagnosing the status of your cabin air filter and replacing it if needed. We sell replacement cabin air filters for a wide range of vehicle models and can inspect any DIY air filter replacements.


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