Cabin air filters started to become commonplace a couple of decades ago—now, all new cars have one as part of their heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Although there are some exceptions, most cabin air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. Usually, even drivers who aren’t experienced with automotive repair can do the job themselves.
What Does a Cabin Air Filter Do?
As you might guess, the cabin air filter prevents dirt, dust, and other contaminants from entering your car’s interior. Some filters also contain activated charcoal, which reduces odors. In other words: The cabin air filter helps to purify the air you breathe inside your car.
The cabin filter also serves the secondary purpose of keeping both the air conditioning (A/C) evaporator core and the HVAC air distribution system clean. A clean evaporator core helps to keep the A/C system operating its best while also limiting the growth of odor-causing microbes.
How to Replace a Cabin Air Filter: The Complete Steps
Cabin air filters eventually become dirty and require replacement. Swapping out a cabin air filter is usually a fairly simple task, but the process will vary, depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. So, before you jump right in, it’s a good idea to consult the instructions for your application in a repair manual or repair database.
Below, you’ll find a general overview of what’s typically involved with replacing a cabin air filter.
Cabin Air Filter Replacement Instructions
Are you ready to replace your car’s cabin air filter? The following steps will give you an idea of what the job usually involves.
Note: The following are general guidelines for educational and entertainment purposes only. Consult your vehicle’s factory information for specific repair instructions and recommended safety procedures.
Tools and Equipment Needed to Replace a Cabin Air Filter
The tools needed to replace a cabin air filter will vary, depending on the type of car you have.
In general, however, you’ll need:
- Repair manual or access to a repair database
- Safety glasses
Cabin Air Filter Removal:
- Put on your safety glasses.
- Open your glove box and remove all of its contents.
- Disconnect the glove box damper from the glove box (there may be a screw holding the damper in place).
Remove the glove box by gently squeezing it on both sides while pulling it toward you.
- Locate the cabin air filter’s cover behind the glove box.
- Gently push the tabs on either side of the cover inward to expose the cabin air filter.
- Remove the cabin filter from the housing by pulling it outward toward you.
Cabin Air Filter Installation:
- Compare the new cabin air filter to the old cabin air filter to ensure that both are the same design.
- Install the new cabin air filter in the housing. Be sure that the airflow arrow on the new filter is pointing in the right direction (downward).
- Reinstall the filter cover by snapping it into place.
- Reinstall the glove box by mounting it in place, then gently squeezing it on both sides while pushing it into position.
- Reconnect the glove box damper to the glove box.
- Put everything back inside your glove box and close it.
Here’s a helpful video that demonstrates what replacing a cabin air filter typically involves:
How Often Should You Change Your Cabin Air Filter?
Exactly when you should change your cabin air filter will depend on the type of vehicle you have. The interval is usually somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. You can determine when to replace the filter by consulting the vehicle manufacturer’s service schedule. The information can be found in your owner’s manual or supplemental service booklet.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace the Cabin Air Filter?
If you choose to have a professional replace your cabin air filter, expect to pay (on average) $50 to $100 to get the job done. You can save money by replacing the filter yourself. Most OEM-style replacement filters cost less than $25. Of course, the exact price of the filter will depend on a variety of factors, such as the year, make, and model of your vehicle.