Cabin Air Filters Clean Your Car’s Environment

by Don Elliott on April 26, 2012

In order for your car’s air conditioning and heater to perform correctly, air needs to circulate in the passenger compartment. Fresh air is brought in from the outside through an air intake port and then heated or chilled to keep you comfortable as you travel through all kinds of weather.

Installed in the air intake ductwork is a cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is a small, relatively inexpensive part that adds considerable used car value when it is working properly. Imagine the condition of the air in the front of your car as it travels through congested city traffic, or even country air when the pollen and bugs are everywhere. The cabin air filter sorts out solid particles like dust, mold, pollutants, and bacteria from the air before they enter the car.

The cabin air filter is typically a pleated paper or charcoal activated filter. It is usually located under or attached to the glove box just above the passenger’s feet, or under the hood on the passenger side of the firewall. Automotive repair shop time to replace most cabin air filters is a half hour or less. The car owner with minimum effort and a screwdriver can replace most cabin air filters themselves, saving $30-50 in the process.

Cabin air filters come in all shapes and sizes, most custom made to fit your specific car. Depending on your car, replacement single stage filters cost anywhere from $5 to $15 dollars. The least expensive replacement filters are designed to capture particulate that is 10 microns or larger. 3 microns or smaller is the standard for better single stage filters.

Multi-stage filters use an activated carbon to sort out more of the dust, soot, and allergens than their less expensive single stage cousins. Multiple layers remove progressively smaller particulate and the activated carbon helps to remove odors.

If it has been awhile, or if you have never changed your cabin air filter, now would be a good time. Unless there is a noticeable odor in the car, there is no signal that your filter is clogged and needs replaced.  After replacement, you may notice quicker response by your car’s climate control system, fresher, cleaner air, and even improved gas mileage as your air conditioning system works more efficiently moving air over the evaporator core.

One last tip! Shop online to determine your choices for the quality of your cabin air filter. For just a few dollars more, a multi-stage air filter will provide a noticeable difference. Most auto repair shops will choose the lowest priced filter, closest to the manufacturer’s original equipment. An upgrade here would be money well spent.

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