Cabin Air Filters: Your Best Defense Against Particulate Matter

Published on

November 19, 2018

Keep your vehicle and your passengers breathing clean air.

The recent fires in Northern California made the air quality in the Sacramento Valley unsafe. Your vehicles air filter and cabin air filter have been working overtime to keep your engine and your passengers breathing clean air.

What is your cabin air filter?

The cabin air filter cleans the air that comes into the interior through the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The filter is responsible for catching dust, pollen and other airborne material that can cause harm to your vehicle occupants, especially if they have allergies or other respiratory problems.

Every vehicle manufacturer has a recommended interval for changing the cabin air filter — some say every 12,000 or 15,000 miles, others longer — but under severe conditions you may need to replace it sooner.

Some signs that you need a new cabin air filter are reduced air flow through your air conditioning system, such as when you crank up the fan too high and get more noise than actual air flow. You may also notice bad odors coming form your vents. Even if you don't have these warnings, however, you should have the air filter checked at least once a year, and you may be able to do that yourself.

Many cabin air filters are located behind the glove box and are easily accessible by freeing the glove box from its fasteners; the instructions should be in your car's owner's manual. Other cabin air filters are located under the dashboard and may not be easy to reach, or under the hood where fresh air enters the climate control system.

How is the engine air filter different?

Your engines air filter has also been taxed with the low air quality that we have seen in the valley recently. Replacing the engine air filter is a maintenance item that can often be overlooked, but a dirty air filter can have a negative effect on your car's performance. A clogged air filter can hurt your vehicles ability to accelerate. For that reason, it's a good idea to periodically visually check the engine air filter to make sure it's clean.

Depending on how long the air filter has been in service, you might be shocked at what you see: a filter clogged with leaves, twigs, insects, pollen, soot and grime that literally covers the entire surface of the filter.

Inspecting your vehicles air filters is a great way to make sure that you and your vehicle are getting as much clean fresh air as possible, and in most cases only takes a few minutes to inspect.

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