When trying to decide on the best cabin air filter for your car, it helps to have a little background on how this piece of gear works and why you need one. Just like your car’s engine has a filter over the air intake to prevent dust, dirt and debris from getting inside, so too does your car’s passenger compartment. These cabin air filters stop dust, dirt, pollen and insects from getting inside your car when the climate control system is running.
But even with a little background, it can seem difficult to determine when, or how, you should go about replacing your cabin air filter, because there are so many misunderstandings that seem to follow this vital component around.
Here are three that really stand out:
1. Cabin Air Filters Last Forever
Even the best cabin air filter will wear out over time. Most filters are made of paper, and they are designed to eventually be changed once they’ve become clogged. Be wary of any filter that claims it’s a ‘lifetime’ replacement. Buy a quality filter from a brand you trust that also fits your vehicle. If anyone tries to convince you to reach for the moon in the process, it should set off alarm bells and send you running for the hills.
2. The Environment You Drive in Doesn’t Matter
Your car’s owner’s manual will most likely list the interval at which your filter needs to be changed. Even so, the best cabin air filter can only do so much if you find yourself regularly driving in a dusty environment like a dirt road or a construction site. If this is the case, you’ll most likely have to accelerate your replacement schedule because the filter will clog sooner than the estimated mileage that the automaker allows for.
3. Replacement Is Best Left for the Pros
Replacing your cabin air filter — for most cars — is very much a DIY type of project. Often it’s as simple as removing a few screws behind the glove compartment, while sometimes cars house them on the passenger side of the center console. In any case, it’s not a big job, and something you could knock out in an hour after picking up a cabin air filter at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Check out all the filters
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.