Auto Repair Tempe: Your Cabin Air Filter…No, The Other One
Let’s talk cabin air filters. There seems to be some confusion about them, and I’m going to clear that up right here today. I think much of the confusion comes because prior to the 2000 model year, very few vehicles had cabin air filters. I believe people tend to confuse their cabin air filter with the engine air filter, and I can certainly see how that can happen. Every vehicle has an engine air filter that cleans the air going into the engine, but not all have a cabin air filter that cleans the air going into the passenger compartment. It’s easy to get them mixed up.
The cabin air filter cleans out dust, pollen, spores and other pollutants. To give a point of comparison, a grain of sand is about 200 microns across. A cabin air filter can stop particles that are just three microns in size. It really makes the passenger cabin a much more pleasant environment. I’ve read that the air in your vehicle can be up to six times more polluted than the outside air, so your cabin air filter really has its work cut out for it. What do you do when the filter gets dirty? You just need to replace it. Your owner’s manual may have a recommended interval for changing it. If not, we can inspect it. It’s ironic that many people don’t even realize they have a cabin air filter until it starts to get a little smelly. (Yuck!) So, is it hard to replace? It depends. Some cabin air filters are very easy to get to. Others…not so much. We have to get behind the dashboard and it takes a little time. A clean cabin air filter keeps out smog, allergens and other harmful pollutants, and it protects your entire heating and air conditioning system from dust and grime. So if it’s time, get it changed right away. We’re happy to take care of that whenever you need it.
Suppose you live in an area where extreme heat is common – like here in the Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler, Arizona area. You only have to glance around to see the aftermath. Mailboxes are melting, heat-related illnesses are more common, and roadways are buckling. So just imagine what all that heat is doing to your car. In most owners manuals the manufacturer gives two sets of vehicle maintenance requirements, normal and “severe service” conditions.
Every year our cars are getting more powerful, more miles per gallon, and better technology. Under the skin, to give you all this, your car is also getting more complicated. Where old electrical and mechanical systems used to move you, new computer systems are faster and more accurate than ever before.