How Often To Change Cabin Air Filters?

Change Cabin Air Filter

Ensuring healthy air inside our cars is essential for good health. But then, after how long must you change the air filter?

Cabin air filter changing frequency depends on several details. You must consider the car's make and model, air quality in your local area, and your driving habits. Nonetheless, skipping out on changing the cabin air filter can adversely affect your health and the automobile's HVAC system.

If you want to know how often to change cabin air filter, this article is for you.

How to Identify When Your Cabin Air Filter Needs Changing

Cabin air filters protect vehicle occupants from harmful dust, pollen, and other pollutants. They trap small particles from outside to improve the air quality inside the car and keep the passengers comfortable for longer trips.

But cabin air filters don't last forever and you must change them periodically. Knowing when to replace your cabin air filter ensures the air quality inside your vehicle is well-maintained and healthy.

Here are some signs to look out for to determine when it's time to change your cabin air filter.

An unpleasant smell coming from your vents

If you notice a musty smell coming from your car's air vents, your cabin air filter is likely overdue for a change. Cabin air filter build up with dirt, pollen, and other allergens over time. This leads to reduced air quality and creates an unpleasant smell.

Increased allergy or asthma symptoms.

If your allergy or asthma symptoms worsen, it may indicate something wrong with your cabin air filter. Dirty cabin air filters allow pollutants to circulate and exacerbate the symptoms of allergies or asthma.

Visible dirt building up on the filter

Take your cabin air filter out and check for any visible dirt or debris. If there is a lot of dirt buildup, you may need to change the air filter.

Refer to your owner's manual.

Most auto manufacturers have a recommended time frame to replace your cabin air filter. Check the owner's manual for a specific timeline for changing your filter.

How Often to Change Cabin Air Filter?

Maintain your vehicle by swapping out your cabin air filter consistently. The timeframe for exchanging the filter can diverge from 20,000 km to 30,000 km, depending on the environment you drive in.

Invest in a superior air filter for a more extended service life of up to 40,000 km if you intend to keep your vehicle for the long haul.

What Are the Alternatives to Changing the Cabin Air Filter Regularly?

It may be tempting to simply remove the dirty filter. But without a working filter, the air within the vehicle gets contaminated with dust, pollen, and fumes from the exhaust. This irritates allergies and respiratory difficulties while also triggering an unpleasant smell inside the car.

If you’re looking to reduce the frequency that you have to change the cabin air filter, here are some alternatives to consider:

1. Cleaning and reusing the cabin air filter

An alternative is cleaning and reusing the cabin air filter instead of replacing it. This may save some money, but manufacturers seldom recommend it. Attempting to clean and reuse the filter may damage the filter material, reducing its performance. Furthermore, cleaning the filter requires unique materials, equipment, and time.

2. Install a reusable cabin air filter.

Another substitute is to install a reusable cabin air filter. These reusable air filters may be a cost-effective pick in the long run. Still, make sure that the reusable filter is compatible with the car and abides by the manufacturer's requirements. Some reusable filters deliver a different level of filtering than the unique filter, which leads to less air quality in the cabin.

3. Change the air filter.

The best option is to change the cabin air filter and follow the manufacturer's guidance. This guarantees that the filter operates suitably and provides the best possible air quality inside the vehicle.

What Causes Cabin Air Filter Blockage?

Over time, cabin air filters can become clogged and dirty, leading to poor air quality and reduced system performance.

The following are some of the leading causes of clogged cabin air filters:

1. Environmental Contaminants

Environment-derived pollutants are one of the prevailing reasons for dirty cabin air filters.

Your vehicle's ventilation system intakes air from the exterior, with the air passing via the cabin air filter. Unfortunately, over time, the airborne particles can obstruct filter, reducing its capability.

2. High Moisture

Excessively high humidity levels also cause cabin air filter blockage. The humid atmosphere within your car creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew to develop.

The high moisture levels can eventually deteriorate the filter material, leading to a drop in efficiency.

3. Habitual Use

Another cause of cabin air filter blockage is frequent use. If you often drive in areas with high dust levels and contamination, your cabin air filter has to work harder to keep the air clear. This hastens filter blockage and diminishes its performance.

Furthermore, consistent air conditioning application can cause the filter to become moist and result in mold growth.

4. Neglect

Lastly, failing to take care of your cabin air filter can also lead to blockage. Waiting too long to replace your cabin air filter can clog the filter. It is thus critical to keep to the manufacturer's prescribed replacement schedule.

How to Prevent Cabin Air Filter Blockage

To keep your filter functioning correctly and prevent blockage, here are some tips:

1. Regularly Inspect and Change the Filter

The best way to prevent cabin air filter blockage is to regularly inspect the filter and change it when necessary. Depending on the type of filter and the amount of use, you may need to change the filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.

Replace a clogged or dirty filter immediately, as it can reduce airflow and system efficiency.

2. Make Sure the Filter Fits Properly

Cabin air filters should be replaced with the same size and quality as the original filter. If the filter differs in exact size and shape, it can cause blockages and poor air quality. Carefully measure the filter and make sure it fits in the HVAC system before installation.

3. Clean the Cabin Air Filter Housing

The housing can become clogged with debris and contaminants if not regularly cleaned. Check the housing and clean it using a gentle filter brush or vacuum.

4. Check for Leaks

Any leaks in the vehicle's HVAC system allows contaminants to enter the cabin air filter. The contaminants block the filter and reduce air quality. Inspect the car's vents and other components of the system regularly and repair any leaks immediately.

5. Avoid Objects in the Vehicle

Objects, like leaves and sticks, may end up in the HVAC system and block the filter. Keep items like these out of the vehicle to reduce the risk of blockage.

Cabin Air Filters; Cost and Quality

Price is a main consideration for cabin air filters. The cost may range from as low as $10 for a simple filter to $50 for a higher-end one. The price depends on the construction and brand, but not necessarily its quality.

The two primary types of cabin air filters are particle and activated carbon, both of which serve their purposes. Particle filters trap dust, dirt, and other particles. Activated carbon filters absorb odors, fumes, and potentially harmful gases.

The Easiest Way to Change a Cabin Air Filter

First, locate the positioning of the cabin air filter for the car. Typically, it’s under the hood, close to the base of the windshield. It may also be behind the glove box. Refer to the operator's booklet or do a quick online search to locate the exact spot for their vehicle accurately.

Once you have determined the cabin air filter's spot, it’s easy to remove. Undo the clips or screws that keep it in position.

Once the aged filter is out, you can install the new one. Ensure the new filter is the correct size and type for the car. Then, quickly slide it into the spot, double-checking that it is correctly placed.

Discard the old filter properly. Various auto parts stores or service centers may recycle the former filter for you.

When to Change the Cabin Air Filter: Final Verdict

Changing your car's cabin air filter is essential to regular vehicle maintenance. A dirty or clogged filter impacts the performance of your car's air conditioning and heating systems. It may also affect the car cabin’s air quality and your health.

Follow these guidelines and stay on top of your cabin air filter maintenance. This way, you can ensure that your car's air conditioning and heating systems run efficiently and that you and your passengers breathe clean air while driving.