The problem with cabin air filters: "Out of sight, out of mind" 

Almost everyone knows that home heating and air conditioning systems have a filter to help trap airborne particles.  Do you know your vehicle may have a similar filter?   

Many vehicles built after model year 2000 have interior air filtration in the form of a cabin filter.  It's estimated over half of all new cars sold in North America now have cabin filters.  That's a lot of filters.

According to Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, "there are about 30 million vehicles in North America that currently have cabin air filters."

Here's what we found when we peeked behind a cabin air filter access panel inside the glove box of a typical General Government Motors vehicle.

 

Cabin filter location

  

Cabin Air filter

Accumulation of dirt on cabin filter

 

Surprisingly, there were no performance related complaints with this debris laden filter.  Generally, when filters become clogged, airflow will diminish and odors may form.  Allergy sufferers may notice something's not quite right.  Not only will a clogged filter be less likely to trap airborne particles, a dirty cabin filter may create air quality issues inside your vehicle.

 

Where are cabin filters located?

Not all filters are as easy to find as the one above.  A quick look inside your owners manual should help you determine how your car is equipped.  If you don't have the manual for your car, many filter manufacturers offer online help for locating and replacing these filters.

Here's a list of links that may help with filter location and installation:

 

Bosch Cabin Air Filters

Freudenberg Filtration Technologies

WIX Filters

Fram Filters

 

Can I add a cabin filter if my car did not come equipped with one?

Sometimes, yes.  If you find that cabin air filtration was an option for your model vehicle, you may be able to add a filter even if it did not come with the filter installed.  If your car has a place for a filter to go, your in luck.  If not, your vehicle would probably need some expert modifications.  An automotive air conditioning specialist in your area may offer this.