You are probably aware that your vehicle’s engine has an air filter, but did you know that your car’s HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) system also has one? It is commonly called the cabin filter. A cabin filter performs the same duties for your HVAC system as the engine air filter does for your car’s engine. The cabin air filter is a small pleated filter made of multi-fiber paper, cotton or other engineered material.
What does a cabin filter do?
Clean air is essential to your vehicle running properly. The car’s engine air filter ensures that only clean air runs through the engine. In the same manner, your car’s heating and the cooling system depends on the cabin filter for a steady stream of clean air flow. The cabin filter acts as a barrier, preventing pollutants such as dust, pollen, bacteria, and mold spores from entering the cabin of your vehicle. It also prevents bugs, leaves and other debris from clogging up the HVAC system. The cabin filter is vital to having clean air inside the car; just imagine how dusty your dashboard would look without this air filter! It keeps the air inside the car fresh so you and your passengers can breathe easy especially during allergy season.
Is replacing a cabin filter important?
If you enjoy clean air circulating through your car, changing the cabin air filter is a necessity. When you’re driving and using the fresh air setting on your ventilation system, the cabin filter blocks the pollen, dust, leaves bugs, and other particle elements and blocks them before they blowing on your face through one of the vents on your dashboard. This filter also plays an important role in your vehicle’s air conditioning system; the air passes through the filter and then flows over to the A/C evaporator, which operates at freezing temperatures – the filter will block water droplets to prevent ice buildup. If the air stops flowing, the ice can build up and A/C will stop cooling the car. Inside the car, you’ll notice less air coming in from the vents, and the air you feel will not be as cold. Interestingly enough, once you park your car, the ice will melt and restore the A/C performance temporarily. Your A/C will work temporarily, but only until the ice builds up again. It’s a good idea to have this checked regularly, to ensure you’re breathing clean air, and that your car’s ventilation is running to the best of its ability.
Does a cabin filter affect heating?
Just as the A/C unit can be affected by a dirty cabin filter, the efficiency of the heater can be altered in the same manner. The pores in a cabin air filter paper element are designed to be small enough to allow air to pass through while trapping larger dust particles. Over time, the pores become clogged. This, in turn, forces the air conditioning and heating system to work harder to produce the same results. Imagine trying to breathe through a single handkerchief; you can breathe fairly well. Now imagine adding 2 more handkerchief layers. Taking a deep breath suddenly becomes much more difficult. This is what happens in your car. In winter, the reduced intake of air decreases the amount of warm air the heater is capable of blowing into the cabin. Replacing your cabin air filter every six months or 15,000 miles is beneficial to the performance of your car’s air circulation.
What are the symptoms of a bad cabin filter?
The most common symptom associated with a bad cabin filter is poor air flow from the vents of your car. When the cabin filter is excessively dirty, the vents blow with noticeably less force, reducing the overall heating/cooling capacity of the vehicle’s air flow. Another symptom of a bad cabin filter is an unusual odor coming from the vehicle’s vents. An obstructed filter may produce a musty smell. The pungent smell of the clogged filter will intensify when the air or heat is turned on, leaving the air circulation smelling musty and densely dirty.
What is the difference between a cabin filter and an air filter?
While the air filters and cabin filters are similar in that they both purify the air within the car, there are a few places to check in order to find your cabin filter. For most vehicles, it is located generally behind the glove box. Some may find it beneath the dashboard usually on the passenger’s side. Under-dash filters can often be removed without any tools by simply opening the small access door. If your filter is located under the hood, it may require removing parts. This cabin filter is fitted inside the air conditioning system.
The air filter is located inside a sealed box, in the engine bay. Its placement ensures the only air entering into the engine is free from these damaging particles. If the air filter is not replaced and is allowed to clog up, it can increase fuel consumption, and place additional strain on the engine and driveline components.
How often should cabin filters be replaced?
Replacing the cabin filter is recommended every 15,000 to 25,000 miles, or at least once a year. However, experts encourage checking your vehicles owner’s manual first for your recommended regular maintenance.