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Like every filter out there the car cabin air filter exists to provide clean air inside the vehicle. This type of filter blocks various types of debris like pollen and dust from entering through the heating and cooling system. The cabin air filter is usually placed behind the glove compartment and it needs to be replaced from time to time in order to operate at its best. This DIY auto repair usually needs to happen around every 12,000 miles (19,312 km) which is about once a year. But depending on the driving conditions, this car fix can be done between 15,000 miles (24,140 km) and 30,000 miles (48,280 km). Windows fogging on the regular, having lower gas mileage and the cooling and heating systems not being as efficient as they used to be are also indicators that it’s time to get a new cabin air filter.
How to Change Cabin Air Filter
- Since the cabin air filter is usually behind the glove box, the first thing you’ll need to do is open the glove compartment and take everything out. Then, remove the limiting stop arm which is usually located on the right side of the glove box by sliding it off the pin. A cabin air filter change will also require removing the glove box. This is done by squeezing the front and back side of the glove box together until you pop the side clamps free. Then you just drop the glove box down which will allow you to see the faceplate which leads to the cabin air filter channel. If your air filter is under the dashboard, in this case, you won’t need any tools as you will just need to open a small access door.
- To remove the old cabin air filter, just lift the latches located on the side of the faceplate and slide it out of the way. This will give you access to the filter compartment from which you will pull out the said air filter. Just make sure you don’t scatter around any dust or dirt from the filter into the car. Keep your eyes on the arrows on the old filter as they indicate the direction of the airflow. Remember to write down the date and mileage you’ve changed the air filter at so you’ll know when to change it again next time.
- Before you put the new filter in, clean the filter chamber with a vacuum cleaner and then wipe it down with a clean damp cloth. This will prevent any contaminants from getting into the new unit. Make sure to check if the gaskets need to be changed too. When you are making a cabin air filter change remember to have the arrows of the new filter pointed in the same direction like the arrows on the old filter. Once you slide in the new cabin air filter put back the faceplate, snap in the glove box and reinstall the limiting stop back where it was.
These types of cabin air filters have what is called a filtration medium which is a porous fibrous material that can trap particles from 0.3 microns and larger. The large particles are usually pollen, mold spores, smoke, debris and dust. A particulate cabin air filter is the most basic type of air filter, which means that it’s no good when it comes to ultrafine particles. These are usually gaseous pollutants and odors such as carbon monoxide which can easily pass through it.
With a charcoal filter, you will have more effective filtering since this type of filter has a layer of charcoal on top of the main porous material. This layer is able to absorb microscopic contaminants and gaseous pollutants. A charcoal cabin air filter is also able to remove unpleasant odors such as smoke and exhaust fumes.
With this type of filter you have the usual filtration medium layer and then a layer of activated carbon or charcoal on top of it. You see, activated carbon is a type of charcoal which is more effective at absorbing gasses. This material is made by heat-treating charcoal and then infusing it with chemicals which allow the charcoal to remove odors and fumes. This is done thanks to a process called adsorption.
The high efficiency of these types of filters is due to the fact that they can eliminate harmful gasses like carbon monoxide but they can also remove bacteria and other microorganisms. Although an expensive option, a carbon air filter is recommended if you or a family member has allergies and if you drive in slow-moving traffic or urban areas most of the time.
An electrostatic cabin air filter makes use of static charge in order to trap gaseous pollutants. These air filters are able to remove odors and particulate matters too and they can get rid off fumes, pollen, spores, smoke and dust. Electrostatic filters can also trap in bacteria.