Last updated on October 31st, 2019
Regularly changing your car’s cabin air filter will improve the air quality inside the car, and also help avoid expensive repairs down the road.
But what is a cabin air filter and how often should you change it?
Let’s get started.
What is a Cabin Air Filter?
Most newer model cars (around 2000 and later) have a cabin air filter, which filters the air that comes through your car’s heating and air conditioning systems.
The cabin air filter helps keep the air in your car clean by filtering out dust, pollen, smog, and other pollutants. They can really help with allergies by tree pollen outside.
But over time the cabin air filter can get pretty disgusting. Just check out the picture at the top of this article. That’s an actual picture of my own car’s cabin filter after I neglected to change it for way too long.
It’s pretty shocking how much debris gets caught in there isn’t it?
Now, you should know I am NOT a car guy.
I can gas up my car and I can add windshield wiper fluid. That’s about the extent of my knowledge on car repair.
But changing a cabin air filter is so easy, even I can do it myself. And so can you.
How To Change Your Cabin Air Filter
Swapping out an old cabin air filter for a new one is a piece of cake and generally takes less than five minutes.
You can buy a replacement filter at your local auto parts store, but I find the prices are much cheaper at Amazon.
And that’s to say nothing of what it will cost you if you have a mechanic do it for you. They’ll charge you an arm and a leg and probably laugh at what a sucker you are for not just doing it yourself!
So where is your car’s cabin air filter located?
Most of the time it is located right inside the glove box, but some cars have them under the dashboard or under the hood. You should check your owner’s manual to find it on your car.
The exact method of changing a cabin air filter will depend on what kind of car you have, but generally you can do it with nothing more than a screwdriver. The short video below shows exactly how easy it really is.
How often to change your cabin air filter?
You’ll want to check your owner’s manual for specifics but the general rule of thumb is to change your cabin air filter every 15,000 to 20,000 miles, or once a year.
I like to change it in the Fall since it tends to get clogged with all of the dry leaves and debris flying around, plus I know that the heating system will be getting plenty of use in the winter.
If You Don’t Change Your Cabin Air Filter…
A dirty cabin air filter just isn’t as effective at keeping dust and pollen outside your car, and the air quality inside the cabin will really suffer.
But that’s not all.
The more clogged the air filter becomes the harder the heating and cooling system has to work. Remember, the air circulating through the system will have to fight it’s way through all the gunk. That means the heat/AC won’t work as well.
Even worse, forcing the system to work harder could reduce the life of the motor.
Mike Collins has been working in the financial industry since 2002 and is a self-proclaimed money nerd. He’s written for numerous personal finance websites and been featured on sites such as MarketWatch, Fortune, and Business Insider. Mike created Wealthy Turtle to give readers the tools and knowledge to manage their money like a rock star.