Having your vehicle brought in for regular inspections and maintenance is an important task to do. One part that is often overlooked is the cabin filter in a vehicle. Cabin air filters, like other filters, are a maintenance item that needs to be inspected and replaced on a regular basis.

The cabin air filter is designed to do two things for your vehicle. They should improve the quality of the air entering the passenger compartment through the heater and air conditioning system, and keep dirt, debris, bugs, leaves, and other debris out of the venting system, evaporator, and heater core.

The cabin air filter is usually located behind the glove box or at the base of the windshield in the area under a removable cover or access panel. The location of the cabin air filter can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual, along with a recommended replacement interval.

As a rule, combination odor and dust filters that contain a layer of activated charcoal are good for about a year. The filter will continue to trap dust beyond that period, then the activated charcoal only lasts so long before it becomes saturated with contaminants. The service interval for most dust filters ranges from two to three years or 30,000 miles. The filter’s service life depends on operating conditions. Driving on gravel roads or in a dusty environment will shorten the filter’s life and require more frequent replacement.

Maintenance costs are a part of vehicle ownership, so if a motorist wants to maintain their vehicle and take advantage of the benefits of having a cabin air filter in their HVAC system, they need to replace it periodically. If the filter is neglected too long, it can clog up with debris and restrict airflow. This, in turn, can reduce heater, defroster and vent output. A dirty cabin air filter also can become a source of bad odors by trapping moisture and outside contaminants that promote bacterial growth. Anytime you notice an issue with the vehicle, make sure to schedule an appointment so we can inspect it for you.