Baking soda and carbon help to filter out unpleasant odors. Some find it to be sturdier than the original OEM filter. Removes up to 98% of dirt, dust, pollen, and allergens from entering your vehicle.
A little pricey, but you're saving a lot compared to having the dealership replace it.
Fits Honda and Acura vehicles. Contains baking soda and carbon to generate fresh air. Easy to replace. Good price point.
Gray carbon filter means it's difficult to visually inspect for dirt. Doesn't filter out as much vehicle exhaust as some customers would like.
Has an arrow pointing in air flow direction to ensure you don't install it backwards. Mixed-media, multi-layer construction captures more particles while increasing air flow for higher efficiency. GM-recommended replacement part.
No baking soda filtration, unlike other brands.
No tools needed for quick installation. Activated charcoal filtration with consistent performance. Filters out pollen, spores, dust and harmful gases. Optimum ventilation inside the vehicle through low flow resistance. Greatest filtration efficiency through a combination of mechanical and electrostatic attraction.
Only fits German automobiles.
Easy to change out. Removes and filters 99.5% of all dust, pollen, air pollution, allergens, pet dander, and other airborne contaminants from the outside air before it reaches the vehicle's interior. Helps prevent premature wear on your car's HVAC system by promoting good airflow inside the car.
No charcoal, so it does not do much to remove existing smells.
You take care of your car. You keep the tires properly inflated, change the oil, wash the exterior, and add fuel as needed so it drives safely and has a good, long life. But chances are you unintentionally neglect one aspect of car care that may impact your own health: changing the cabin air filter.
The cabin air filter is the part of your vehicle that provides you with clean, filtered air. A good one removes exhaust fumes, soot, and allergens from the air. The best cabin air filters can also help filter out offensive odors, so the air is not only fresher and safer to breathe but smells better, too.
If you'd like to know more about cabin air filters and learn when and how often they need to be changed, keep reading. If you just stopped by this page for some recommendations on what to buy, consider the highly rated options that we've listed in this article.
When shopping for a cabin air filter, you must first note the make, model, and year of your vehicle because different manufacturers make cabin air filters of different sizes. If you purchase a cabin air filter that is designed for a 2017 Volkswagen Beetle, for example, it isn’t going to fit in your 2014 Ford Escape.
The other primary consideration is which type of filter you want to purchase. There are two general types: particulate and odor/particulate combination filters.
Particulate filters: All cabin air filters are particulate filters. These remove airborne particles such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and even oil. The effectiveness of particulate filters is measured in micrometers (μm), sometimes called microns. A mold spore can be as small as 3 μm or less but is typically 10 to 30 μm. If your cabin air filter can only filter down to 100 μm, mold spores will not be filtered out.
Most cabin air filters that cost more than $8 or $10, also feature some form of odor elimination. An activated carbon filter, for instance, will not only remove offensive odors from the air but also filter out harmful gases. Baking soda is another item that may be found in cabin air filters that helps reduce odors.
Once you've chosen the right cabin air filter for your particular vehicle and picked particulate or combination, there are a few other features to consider.
Multistage filtering: As noted above, there are different types of filters. Some cabin air filters have multiple filters so they can remove different types of unwanted elements from the air you breathe.
Reusable: Although most cabin air filters are disposable, you can find units that are durable enough to be removed, rinsed, and replaced. If this is appealing to you, look for a reusable cabin air filter.
Airflow: Ideally, you want a cabin air filter that can remove the greatest amount of particulates and odors from the air with the least loss of airflow. Some lower-end models have better airflow because they don’t filter as well, but you can find specially designed filters with a greater airflow that still do a good job of removing unwanted elements from the air inside your car.
When considering which cabin air filter to buy, it’s important to point out that the make and model of your vehicle play a large role in the cost of the filter.
Inexpensive: In general, you can find budget cabin air filters for as low as $4.
Mid-range: A better price range is from $8 to $14. This is where you’ll start to see better models that also feature activated carbon that eliminates offensive odors.
Expensive: Between $14 and $18, you’ll find name-brand filters with name-brand features, such as a Fram filter with odor-absorbing Arm & Hammer baking soda.
Premium: Above $18 is where you’ll find high-end models with more rigid construction and multistage filters.
Because the air that enters your car through the vents passes through the cabin air filter, it’s pretty easy to determine when it’s time to change the filter. Here are a few tips that help you know when the time is right for a change.
Q. How do I know if my car has a cabin air filter?
A. Cabin air filters started appearing in vehicles in the 2000s. Although not all cars have one, if you have a car made in this century, there's a good chance that you have a cabin air filter. If you’re just finding this out now, there's a good chance that the cabin air filter needs to be changed.
Q. Where is my cabin air filter located?
A. Most cabin air filters are located somewhere around the glove compartment. They can either be behind the glove compartment or under the glove compartment. Additionally, some are located under the hood near the glove compartment. The quickest way to discover the exact location of yours is to check your owner's manual.
Q. When should I change my cabin air filter?
A. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the "When to change your cabin air filter" section above, the answer is you should change your filter now. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is to change your filter once each year or every 12,000 miles.
Q. What happens if I don't change my cabin air filter?
A. The most noticeable problems will likely be a musty odor (which can eventually turn much worse than "musty") or a failure of your heating and cooling system to function properly. You could also experience allergy attacks every time you get in your car. Since your car's HVAC system is powered by your car's engine, and a dirty cabin filter will make that engine work harder, it’s possible that you could experience a negligible decrease in fuel efficiency, but you probably wouldn’t notice the difference.
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