How to Guides

How To Replace A Cabin Air Filter

Zaki Moulvi posted this on Jun 4, 2014

Before the turn of the century, it was rare to hear of a cabin air filter for your vehicle.  While prevalent in many European luxury cars, they did not make it to the mainstream automotive industry until recently.  The growing popularity of a cabin air filter can be attributed to the increasing concerns over our air quality.  Now most of the cars being manufactured today are equipped with at least one, if not more air filters inside the passenger cabin.

What Does a Cabin Air Filter Do?

A cabin filter works the same way as the one on your HVAC system at home.  As warmed or cooled air is blown through the vents, it first passes through the device, which captures all dust and microorganisms that could be floating inside.  This ensures that while you are running your car’s A/C or heater, the air that you are breathing has been cleaned.

When Do I Change My Cabin Air Filter?

Once a year or every 15,000 miles is the recommended time to change air filters, but since the life of this device is dependent on how often you run the HVAC system in your car, and the outside conditions, mileage and time really have little to do with how long it lasts.  If you live in an area with a high pollen count, for example, you should be taking a look at your cabin filter at the end of every Spring and Fall.  It will give you some indication on its own that it needs to be changed, like a decrease in air flow through the vents or foul odors.  If you experience any of those symptoms, take a few minutes to pull out the air filter to see if it is still able to perform its job.

Where Is the Cabin Air Filter or Filters?

You are going to have to consult your owner’s manual on that one.  Every make and model is different, and many cars will have more than one, but there are a few standard places you can check first:

  • Inside the outside air intake.  Sounds confusing, but the air intake is a hose inside of the engine where fresh air is brought in.  The cabin filter will be behind the screen.  This filter gets the brunt of dirt and pollen entering your vehicle, so you may want to check its status more often than any others.
  • Underneath the dashboard.  In some cars you can access the cabin air filter by removing the glove box.  With others, you will have to look for access to the blower fans all along the bottom of the dashboard.
  • Between the blower fan and the hose leading to the vents.

Still no luck?  Call an expert at toll free- 888-501-6588 and ask them.  In some cases the replacement filter will give a description of how to install along with a diagram showing where the filter or filters can be found.  Or it could be that the location is eluding you because your vehicle does not use them.  The expert will tell you, and you may as well go ahead and order your replacement filters while you have him on the phone.

Changing the Filter inside of the Air Intake

You will have to first remove the screen which is most likely just held in place with plastic fasteners.  It will resemble a Christmas tree with a center pin that you will have to pry up and then wiggle to get it to come out.  It may break in the process, but when you order your filters at you can also order a replacement pack of the screen fasteners.

 There could also be a deflector in front of the filter designed to keep out moisture from rain and snow.  You will need to remove that as well before you can get to the filter.  Taking the filter out is as easy as unfastening some plastic tabs and then pulling the dirty filter out. 

Before installing the new cabin air filter, use the small attachment on your Shop Vac to vacuum out any dirt or pollen that is still inside the outside air duct.  Now you’re ready to put the new filter in place and then the moisture guard and screen.  It is important that all of these elements are in place to avoid rainwater ruining the filter and large objects to enter the air intake tube.

Changing the Filters Inside of the Cabin

Most of the time you will only need to remove the glove box to gain access to the interior filter box.  It may be inside a case above the blower.  Taking down the glove box requires taking out a number of small screws.  Once the box is out, you will have full access to the cabin air filter.  Simply pull it out and then replace it with the new filter.  Reassemble the glove box, and the air coming into your cabin is fresh once again.

The biggest challenge in changing the cabin air filters is finding them, and getting the correct replacements.  Good thing can assist with both.  

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