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When Should I Replace the Cabin Air Filter? All You Need to Know

Cabin Air Filter 101

If you are dealing with problems and asking yourself, “when should I replace the cabin air filter?” The short answer is once evey 15,000 to 30,000 miles unless you see some symptoms.

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Your vehicle contains a lot of filters, and every filter performs a specific job. These filters must be monitored because many inexperienced drivers might underestimate them and think they're not very important. However, simple components like the filters might lead to catastrophic outcomes that could damage bigger components like the engine if not impact your safety.

Overtime reviews, these filters are expected to get partially or completely clogged. Therefore, drivers need to watch any symptoms or recommendations from experts about when to check on these filters and when to replace them.

These filters differ significantly, and some might require more frequent replacement than others. Therefore, you should check with the manual and read through some articles like this one to familiarize yourself with one or two things about these filters to stay on the safe side and prevent catastrophic outcomes.

Among the different car filters, there is the cabin air filter. We will provide you all the details you need to know about this filter in this article. We will also highlight the biggest difference between the cabin air filter and the engine air filter, and we will let you know when you should replace it when it's needed.

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What is the cabin air filter, what does it do, and how is it different from the engin air filter?

Before we dig into the details about “when should I replace the cabin air filter?” It is important for you as a driver to understand what this filter is in the first place and what's important about it. You need to know the biggest difference between this filter and the engine air filter.

The cabin air filter is responsible for filtering any air getting inside your car. Therefore, it doesn't necessarily have a job on how your vehicle performs, but instead, it impacts the quality of the air you're breathing in.

Some drivers might think that since this filter doesn't have to do with the driveability of your car, it is not important. However, that's not the case, especially if you have some respiratory problems or if you're driving people with some respiratory system issues. Also, the cabin air filter becomes extremely important if you're driving in an area with low air quality.

There's a huge misconception between the cabin and the engine air filters. They're both referred to as the car air filter, but sometimes people get confused between the two. The cabin air filter is the one we talked about that is responsible for filtering the air getting inside the car. On the other hand, the engine air filter is responsible for filtering the air getting inside the engine and used in the combustion process.

The engine air filter is a critical component, and if it gets clogged or goes bad, it can stop your vehicle from driving at all. However, this does not mean that you shouldn't take good care of the cabin air filter because it has to do with your safety which should be a higher priority than any other component in your car.

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When should I replace the cabin air filter?

Over time of use and depending on your area's air quality, the cabin air filter gets squad. It starts with partial clogging and keeps developing until it hits a complete clog which is never a good situation.

According to automotive experts, you need to replace the cabin air filter once every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. However, if you realize other symptoms indicating that you need to replace it before then, you should do so, and you should not wait until that threshold.

Symptoms of a bad cabin air filter

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes, before you even reach the 15,000 miles, you might notice some symptoms indicating that you have to replace the air filter before then.

Therefore, to stay on the safe side and to prevent dealing with a lot of complications, you must keep an eye for the following symptoms of a bad cabin air filter:

1.    Troubles with the heating and cooling system

Although the cabin air filters will not impact your vehicle's driveability, they impact how air conditioning and heating systems work. Both systems rely on the air coming through the cabin air filter to push through and adjust your vehicle temperature.

If there is a problem with the cabin air filter, both systems will have trouble, and they will not be able to send the right amount of air to adjust your vehicle temperature on time. However, keep in mind that issues with the heating and air conditioning systems might be because of other issues. Therefore, it is important for you as a driver to consult your mechanic and have him perform a thorough inspection to confirm that your issue is related to a bad cabin air filter.

2.    Foggy windows

Did you know that the defog system in your vehicle relies on the cabin air filter as well?! Yes, the air also has to run through the cabin air filter before getting to the windows. So if the cabin air filter is completely clogged, you'll see that the system is not working properly because it's not sending any air to defog the windows.

Therefore, if you know that you're driving in areas where windows are expected to fog, you must inspect the cabin air filter and maintain it.

3.    Loud fan noises

When the cabin air filter is clogged, very limited amounts of air runs through; therefore, the fan will make loud noises because it's trying to suck more air, but it can't appear; therefore, the fan will spend more energy trying to get the required amount of air for your vehicles AC and heating system to operate properly.

If the sound continues to work hard beyond its capabilities, it might fail eventually, and that's where you have to not only replace the cabin air filter but also deal with other problems related to the fan.

4.    Weird odors

If you decide to ignore the cabin air filter for a very long time, your vehicle will start smelling, and this smell will come mostly close to the vents. Of course, this situation doesn't have to do with your vehicle's performance. Still, it can be an unpleasant situation. It can be uncomfortable for you to continue driving your car, especially if you sit in your vehicle for hours driving longer distances.

5.    Slow airflow through the fence

Finally, you'll notice very little air flowing through the vents because all the open pores are clogged, and air relies on whatever is remaining to run through the vents and get to your vehicle. Therefore, if you ignore the air filter for a very long time, you might find it hard to sit inside your car, especially with the limited amount of air, especially if your vehicle is continuously closed.

That's why problems with the cabin air filter might not be terrible if you're always open the window. Still, if you're in extreme temperatures where the weather outside is very hot or very cold, you will rely on whatever air is inside your car, and that's when a cabin air filter becomes very critical.

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How much does it cost to replace the cabin air filter?

The good news is that replacing the cabin air filter is not very expensive, and it's something you can replace for only somewhere between $30 and $70. However, if you do the job yourself and replace yourself, you don't have to worry about labor costs. On the other hand, if you decide to go with a professional that sometimes is unnecessary, you'll have to consider the additional labor costs.

Can I drive with a bad cabin air filter?

A bad air filter does not impact your vehicle's driver's bullet. It doesn't have to do anything with how your vehicle drives. You can continue driving your car without adding cabin air filters, but it's not good.

If you decided to continue driving your car with a bad cabin air filter, you would continuously breathe bad air, which means a huge issue if you're driving in areas with low air quality.

The other thing to consider is that the cabin air filter can impact your vehicle's performance regarding the heating and air conditioning system. This is because the air has to run through the cabin air filter before it gets through both systems theories. Thus, if you want the top performance of your vehicle's air conditioning and heating system, you should always have a good and high-quality cabin air filter.

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Can I drive my car without A cabin air filter?

Unfortunately, you can drive your car without a cabin air filter, but that's not a good idea. Many drivers rely on removing the cabin air filter completely to skip cabin air filter replacements.

Unfortunately, this is not a good idea because all you're doing is allowing contaminated or low-quality air to get inside your car. Therefore, instead of spending the time removing the cabin air filter, you should better focus on replacing it since the replacement cost is not very expensive, as we mentioned earlier. If you are worried about labor costs, you can easily open some youtube videos and other articles that walk you through a step-by-step procedure on how to replace the cabin carefully to yourself so you can save on labor costs.

How to buy a new cabin air filter?

Shopping for a new cabin air filter should not be very complicated; however, there are a lot of things that could go wrong, and you can avoid fear; for example, you must start with your vehicle's owner's manual and understand what type of filter you're looking for. Also, you want to make sure that you're buying the right size and the right quality. Saving on quality is never a good idea for car repairs, so don't try to go down in quality in any new partner placement.

The easiest thing you can do is take the old air filter, go to the auto shop, and ask for a very similar one. This way, you can compare the two and by the accurate one.

Finally, you can also search online for your vehicle's exact make, model, end. You should find many details out there for people who have done cabin air filter replacement where you can't confirm how to buy that exact type.

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Final thoughts

The cabin air filter is very important because it cleans the air inside your vehicle and that you breathe in. Unfortunately, overtime reviews, this filter gets partially and completely clogged if ignored.

While the cabin air filter will not stop your vehicle from driving, it might impact the way the air conditioning and heating systems performance if you are; therefore, you need to replace it whenever you need by monitoring any symptoms of add cabin air filter or once you hit close to 15,000 miles or probably 30,000 miles.

While it's important to maintain some of the minor components like we have an air filter, you should also focus on the major components, and if your car has significant damages in the engine or the transmission, you might want to consider selling it to cash cars buyer and take advantage of its value to buy a better car that is worth purchasing the air filter.

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