Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Do you need a new cabin air filter?

When to replace your cabin air filter

The cabin air filter sits in in the air duct between the outside air intake and the blower fan. It’s sometimes called a pollen filter since its original purpose was solely for pollen removal. Few car makers thought that non-allergy sufferers would even want to filter out road dust. However, car makers quickly changed the name from pollen filter to to cabin air filter because owners didn’t think they needed to service the filter if they didn’t have pollen allergies. When the filters isn’t serviced properly, it can cause premature blower failure.

Cabin air filters can be made from a pleated paper material or synthetic fibers. Some are available with baking soda or activated charcoal to filter out odors. They should be changed at least once a year to prevent damage to the vehicle’s blower motor and achieve maximum heating and cooling efficiency.

A clogged cabin air filter restricts the flow of air into the blower fan and that can burn out the electric blower motor . So you should replace the cabin air filter on a regular basis. Unfortunately, no one knows what that interval is. A cabin air filter clogs faster the more you use the blower fan and it also captures more dirt when you drive on dirt roads. So you can’t rely on months of use to determine when to change yours.

What happens if you don’t change a clogged cabin air filter?

When the filter clogs it reduces airflow and that causes the blower fan to work harder and draw more electrical current. That stress causes the blower fan clogged cabin air filtermotor to overheat and fail early. In fact, many late model cars are experiencing blower fan failure after just one season of driving with a clogged cabin air filter. The cost to replace the blower fan motor varies from as little as $150 to as much as $600. Worse yet, a stressed blower fan motor can draw so much electrical current that it melts the wiring harness, costing even more to replace.

Even if the filter isn’t totally clogged, the reduced air flow can cause your vehicle’s AC to work harder to cool the interior, reducing your gas mileage.

How to change a cabin air filter?

Car makers have frankly exerted very little effort in making this an easy replacement. In some cases, the replacement can be done in as little as 15-mins. In those vehicles, the filter is located behind the glove box and requires lowering the glove box (another reason to keep it fairly empty) and removing a cover. In other vehicles the replacement requires pulling up the carpet on the passenger side and removing access panels and multiple screws. So the labor can range from $15 to $100. Check your owner’s manual to see if your cabin air filter is easily accessible. If so, you can change it yourself.

What are the different types of cabin air filters?

Cabin air filters are available in a variety of styles. The standard filter is designed to filter only particulates. Other filters incorporate either baking soda or activated charcoal and are designed to remove odors.

How much is a new cabin air filter?

The filter itself costs between $12 and $35 depending on the type. Labor also varies a bit depending on its placement in the vehicle’s heating system, but the average labor cost is around $40

Can you install a cabin air filter yourself?

types of cabin air filters
In most cases, yes. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions or visit this site.


Are you getting ripped off by the dealer for installing a cabin air filter?

Dealerships routinely remove cabin air filters to check their condition even if you’re just in for an oil change. It’s their way of getting an add-on sale. If the filter really is dirty, then you’re not being ripped off. But some shops recommend replacement when the filter is just lightly dusted. That’s not a reason to replace it.

Another rip off is to inform you that your cabin air filter isn’t the recommended type. That’s just a scam. Different brands have different pleating arrangements or are made from different materials. A cabin air filter does NOT have to be (OEM)to work properly in your car. If the dealer tries to sell you a cabin air filter based on the fact that it’s not OEM, find a new repair shop—you’re being ripped off.

©, 2016 Rick Muscoplat


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

Custom Wordpress Website created by Wizzy Wig Web Design, Minneapolis MN