Auto Cabin Air Filter – Does Your Car Have One?

Did you know that some autos have a cabin air filter, an “air purifier” built into the air conditioning (AC) system?

Aftermarket industry surveys have shown that a majority of vehicle owners are unaware of this feature and whether their car or truck has a cabin air filter.

These filters have been added to vehicles in the last 20 years without much publicity. Placed on European autos in the mid 1980’s, cabin air filters began to appear on US cars and trucks around 1995. Now the cabin air filter is common on American and Asian automobiles.

Cabin filters do not have standardized sizing, specifications, technology, or materials. There isn’t even standard terminology.

Lots of cars are running with dirty, clogged cabin filters. Air conditioning and heating performance will be degraded and inside air quality will suffer if the filter is not serviced. When there is no pre-filter screen, leaves, twigs, and dirt will clog the filter media. Road grime will turn a white filter ugly black in about 12,000 miles.

Where is my Cabin Air Filter?

If you drive a 2000 or newer car, it probably has a filter.

Replacement is sometimes covered in the owner’s manual. However, many manuals are cryptic at best, herding consumers to high priced dealer service departments.

Dealer service desk personnel should be able to advise you as to whether your car has a cabin air filter.

They may charge from $50 to $130 to replace it. But even if these prices seem acceptable to you, please read on. Not all replacement filters purify car cabin air equally well.

There is no list of car models with or without interior air filtration available. Worse yet, a given car model may have the option installed or not, depending on where it was sold or built, which drive train is installed, and other factors. commercial air purifiers

Filter manufacturer websites will have listings of replacements by make, model, and year. If you don’t find your car listed after surfing a couple of these, you probable don’t have a cabin filter.

Cabin air filters are often found behind an access panel in the AC duct housing, under the hood or inside the cab. It will often be on the passenger side.

Inside the cab, the filter cartridge may be accessed through or beneath the glove box. Under the hood, check the firewall near the AC plenum box for fasteners which may hold the cabin air filter housing. Many filters are located under the cowl.

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