service notes

The Cabin Air Filter

back

Cabin Air Filter

Description: A filter used to clean incoming air for the car's HVAC system. Introduced in European vehicles, cabin air filters are now becoming common on more domestic and Asian makes and models. Some examples include the Ford Taurus, Contour, Windstar and Ford trucks; the Chevrolet Impala, Monte Carlo, Suburban, Tahoe and Silverado; and the Lincoln Navigator. Japanese cars such as the Honda Accord and Odyssey, and the Acura RL and TL use cabin filters. To date, approximately 40% of cars have cabin air filters, but the number grows each year.

Purpose: The cabin air filter helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust, and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle's ventilation system, making the interior of the car a healthier place.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Cabin air filters should be replaced according to owners' manual guidelines, usually every 15,000 miles. It's not uncommon, however, for cabin air filter replacement to be overlooked in the owner's manual.

Do not try to clean this filter and reinstall it. For best results, consult filter manufacturer application charts to see if your car is listed. Most filters are accessible through an access panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or in the interior of the car. Some filters require basic hand tools to remove and install the filter; others just require your hands. If neglected, a restricted cabin air filter can impair airflow in the HVAC system, possibly causing interior heating and cooling problems.

Does Your Vehicle Have a Cabin Filter?
(F/W 2005)

They continue to add filters to new vehicles. As it stands today, you could have:

1. One and maybe two fuel filters,
2. An engine oil filter,
3. An air filter,
4. A crankcase filter,
5. A transmission filter,
6. A coolant filter (in most diesels),
7. A Canister filter,
8. A Breather filter, and
9. A Cabin filter.The cabin filter is the newest filter and it's job is to filter the air that is either sucked or pushed inside your car before your breathe it.

Like many homes in the USA, your home may have air conditioning, swamp coolers or simply fresh air circulation. Your car has the same three modes. Air conditioning is where you re-circulate the air inside your house. INSIDE air is sucked through a filter, over some cold coils and sent back into the living quarters of your home. Your car does the same thing, re-circulate the air INSIDE your car and that's called MAX A/C or Recir A/C for recirculation.

Swamp coolers or just wet pad coolers cool your house in a slightly different fashion. Coolers take OUTSIDE air, cool it and send it into the house. If the house were air tight, the cooler would be trying to blow cool air into a pop bottle, so to speak, which all of us know is difficult, at best. So as most folks know, you have to open a window or two to get proper circulation when using a cooler or bringing in outside air. Your car does the same thing. It brings outside air through a cabin filter over cold coils and then blows it into the car. That's called NORM A/C or Outside Air.

Of course, fresh air circulation mandates you have a window open to benefit from that mode. And this air also goes past a cabin filter before it enters your car.

The cabin filter works in either mode, re-circulatory or outside air and we've been changing quite a few of them lately. I even changed mine in my truck that travels back and forth to the ranch and I found a ton of dirt, mold, grass, twigs, leaves, animal hair and fur and even a plastic bag in and on my cabin filter. Some of the ones we've replaced make vacuum cleaner bags look clean.

So if I were driving my truck and my brother was sitting in the passenger seat and we just got done working cows and he was a stinkin', I would turn the air on, use outside air and open his window a tad. That way as air entered the truck cab, it would sweep by him and out his window. This works if your passenger is smoking or your dog is wet.

If your vehicle is model year 2000 or newer, there's a good chance it is equipped with a cabin air filter. You will pay about $95 to replace it, which includes the labor, depending on your make model and accessibility.

For a Dependable Motor Vehicle
visit us in the Redwood Auto Care Center
Across the street from the Skyview Drive-In

2335 Soquel Drive
Santa Cruz CA 95065
831-462-4436
Monday-Friday/8:00 am-5:00 pm