If you’re like most drivers, then you probably don’t give much thought to your cabin air filter. Cabin air filter replacement, however, should always be on your vehicle maintenance checklist.

Typically hidden under the dashboard or behind the glove compartment, cabin air filters have made their way into virtually every vehicle over the past couple of decades. Cabin air filters are often confused with oil filters and engine air filters, but they perform an entirely different and very important role all their own.

What Does a Cabin Air Filter Do?

The cabin air filter is a key component of your vehicle’s ventilation system. It is responsible for removing a variety of pollutants from the air which comes in through the ventilation system and circulates throughout the cabin. Cabin air filters help ensure both proper ventilation system function and the health and safety of all passengers.

Without a working cabin air filter, the air inside of a vehicle’s cabin is prone to having higher levels of harmful and odorous exhaust gases than the air outside of the cabin. This is because trucks and other vehicles on the road leave exhaust gas tunnels in their wake. Cabin air filters remove these gases from the air before it reaches the cabin. They are also necessary for keeping pollen and other allergens from entering the vehicle, drastically reducing the uncomfortable symptoms experienced by millions of allergy sufferers across Canada.

On top of improving the health and quality of life of all vehicle passengers, cabin air filters can help reduce vehicle maintenance costs as well. Dirty, contaminated air will restrict airflow and force a vehicle’s ventilation system to work harder. It will cause your air conditioner to operate less efficiently, reducing your vehicle’s horsepower. If left unchanged, a dirty cabin air filter can eventually lead to motor burnout, causing your air conditioning to stop working altogether.

How Often Do Cabin Air Filters Need to Be Replaced?

A good general rule of thumb is that you should have your cabin air filter replaced every 19,000 to 24,000 kilometres. However, these numbers can vary based on the vehicle you drive, how much you drive, and where you drive. It’s always best to consult your owner’s manual and to have your air filter changed even more regularly than suggested if you often drive in heavy traffic or if you live in a dry climate.

You likely need a new cabin air filter if you notice that the air coming through your vehicle’s interior vents is blowing with considerably less force and if it carries a bad, musty odour. Your ventilation system may also exhibit noisier operation, especially when cranked all the way up.

Having your cabin air filter replaced on a regular basis is an easy solution to keeping all vehicle passengers comfortable and to keeping your ventilation system operating efficiently. The minor cost of a cabin air filter change can save you far more on ventilation system repairs over the long term.

Don’t sacrifice the air quality in your cabin for the minor inconvenience of changing your cabin air filter. If you get it changed when taking your vehicle in for other routine maintenance, then it doesn’t have to be an inconvenience at all. Add a cabin air filter change to your vehicle maintenance checklist today.