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Clear the Cabin! How and Why You Should Replace Your Cabin Air Filter

We’ve all witnessed them: those quaint, cardboardy, evergreen air fresheners dutifully dangling from rearview mirrors, their pine perfume permeating auto interiors. But you know what they say: The cover up is worse than the crime. Maybe instead of imposing a holiday tree on your passengers’ nostrils, what’s really needed is a cabin air filter replacement to freshen things up at the source.

The cabin air filter cleans air entering a car’s interior via the ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems. Its job is nabbing pollen, dust and other nasties so you spend more time eyeing the road instead of sneezing and wheezing. The filter is especially important for drivers and passengers suffering from allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues. Not all vehicles have cabin air filters so, if in doubt, check your owner’s manual—or ask your friendly car parts pros here at Glenbrook Auto Parts in Glenview.

How do I know when I need a new cabin air filter?

Carmakers differ on their recommendations for when to change the filter. Some rely on the odometer (maybe every 12,000 to 15,000 miles), but those recommendations should be taken with a grain of dust… er…uh… salt. Driving conditions rather than time driving could be the deciding factor. For example, commuting in grimy, gridlock-plagued urban areas or regularly traveling in dry, dusty desert regions probably will accelerate the replacement schedule. More concrete signs that replacement is required include unrelenting interior odors or diminished air flow when operating the heating or air conditioning.

A solid rule of thumb is to check the cabin air filter annually. Inspection and replacement in many cases is one of the easiest DIY projects you’re likely to encounter, even if you don’t consider yourself a DIYer.

What parts do I need to replace a cabin air filter?

  • New cabin air filter
  • Vacuum cleaner (a hand-held vac is A-OK)
  • Damp cloth

Key DIY Tips

Here are some tips taken from the detailed directions from our NAPA Know How Blog.

The cabin air filter is usually located inside the glove compartment, under the dashboard or under the hood. Locate it and pull it out. A clogged filter will be blackened and/or debris-filled. For this summary, let’s assume the cabin air filter is located inside the glove compartment.

  • Open glove box and remove contents.
  • Remove the limiting stop arm, which is on the right side of the glove box, by sliding it off the pin.
  • Release glove box and remove the old cabin air filter being careful not to scatter any dust, dirt and trash.
  • Clean filter chamber and check seals and gaskets to make sure they don’t need to be changed.
  • Vacuum the filter chamber, then wipe with damp cloth to remove stray contaminants.
  • Install the new cabin air filter, noting air-direction arrows.
  • Reverse initial steps to reconnect glove box.

Remember, with Glenbrook Auto Parts in Glenview, you can save time by ordering your parts online and picking them up in the store. We’ll have them ready and waiting for you.

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