What is a Cabin Air Filter (working, location & cost)

Everyone like to have a clean, fresh and odorless air in their car cabin. It always feel good to sit in car cabin that just feel fresh and pleasent. This is only possible if you have a functional cabin air filter.

If you does not have much information about this then this is for you. This is a complete beginner guide on cabin air filter explaining What is a cabin air filter? what does a cabin air filter do? location cabin air filter and cost of cabin air filter.

What is a Cabin Air Filter?

As the name indicates that cabin air filter is an air filter which is installed in vehicles to block the entry of pollutants and other contaminants from the environment into the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system of your car. 

Air filters are made up with a wide variety of materials that vary from application to application. Aluminum, paper, foam, carbon, steel, fiberglass or plastic etc. can be used in the making of an air filter. 

Air filters are usually categorized into two types. The first type is pleated air filters and the second type of air filters are called non-pleated air filters. 

A cabin air filter is usually a pleated or folded unit usually made up of multi-fiber cotton or any engineered material suitable for air filtering. 

Cabin air filters and usually all the air filters are made folded or pleated to increase the surface area. Increased surface area of a cabin air filter enable it to capture more contaminants and particles from air therefore a pleated or folded air filter has a longer life than that of a fiberglass air filter. 

Furthermore, pleated air filters can filter smaller particles as compared to non-pleated air filters and hence are considered efficient. However, pleated air filters are usually blamed to restrict the air flow.

What does a Cabin Air Filter do?

Like an engine filter that restricts the entry of air contaminants and other pollutants into the suction side of the engine. 

A cabin air filter is used to filter the air contaminants, road soot, exhaust gases, pollen particles and several other impurities to enter the air conditioning and ventilation system of a car or a vehicle to keep its internal environment healthy and safe for the passengers. 

A car or vehicle with dirty filter or a filter that needs replacement will provide an uncomforting experience of driving and diminished efficiency of defrosting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. 

Furthermore, a cabin air filter keeps the inside environment of a car or vehicle fresh and free from any foul odor. Hence, a clean and new or efficient cabin air filter will increase the airflow, defrosting and air conditioning ability and windows will not fog up easily.

Where is the Cabin Air Filter?

The location of cabin air filter can vary with the change in model of a car and the layout of the heating ventilation and air conditioning system. 

The cabin air filter is usually located at the start of ducts that take air into the passenger area of a car or a vehicle. 

It is installed directly behind the cover of intake channel. In few cars or vehicles, the cabin air filter is placed vertically while in the other the filter is placed horizontally.

We will discuss the different locations of a cabin air filter in the vehicles

  • Most of the vehicles have their air filters behind the glove box. One might need to disassemble the glovebox cover to see it. 
  • To see the procedure for the removal of glovebox cover and find the exact location of cabin air filter, the operation or user manual of a vehicle should be consulted.
cabin air filter location in glovebox
source endurance

  • In few models of the cars and vehicles, major components of heating and air conditioning system can be found under the hood or bonnet of the car. 
  • So, to find the location of cabin air filter, one have to open the hinged cover of the bonnet. The exact location of the cabin air filter can be found using the vehicle’s manual.
cabin air filter location under the hood
source wikimedia

  • Cabin air filter of few vehicles can be found under the dash or near the accelerator and break pedal. Such type of cabin air filter are not easily accessible.

How often should Cabin Air Filter be replaced?

Cabin air filter life is about 12000 miles or one year

Over the time of usage, a cabin air filter becomes filled up with dirt and other contaminants available in the environmental air. 

When this happens, an air filter can no longer do its job for which it has been designed and it must be replaced. There are several signs that indicate the improper and inefficient working of a cabin air filter. 

If you notice a lower air flow through your car or vehicle, or any musty or unpleasant odor or smell in the car’s cabin or haze on the inside of the car windows, then these are all a pretty good signs that it’s a good time to replace the cabin air filter. 

Furthermore, a new cabin air filter is usually clean and have no spots or dust accumulated on it while an old air filter will be dusty and full of spots etc. A cabin air filter needs to be replaced regularly and more often. 

There is no rule of thumb to change or replace the air filter and like many of the other components of the engine, the replacement of cabin air filter is also coupled with the mileage of the vehicle. 

The good practice is to replace the cabin air filter above or every 12000 miles or once a year. 

How much is a Cabin Air Filter?

Cabin air filter cost can be between $15 to $45

The replacement of cabin air filter is not a complex or cumbersome process. The cost of cabin air filter depends upon a few factors i.e. model of the car, cabin air filter manufacturer, quality of cabin air filter and labor cost. 

As discussed in the preceding lines, different cars have different location for cabin air filter. If the air filter is placed is in the hood or behind the glove compartment then the replacement is going to be easy and cheap. 

Whereas in other cases, it might add some extra labor cost to the process. If you are planning to replace the cabin air filter yourself, it will take from few minutes to an hour and cost can be as low as $15 to $45. 

Here is the List of Cabin air filter cost for Most common vehicles.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $30 for a replacement cabin air filter for a Ford F-150.

  • RAM Pickup 1500 - Some newer models have cabin air filters, and replacement filters can cost anywhere from $15 to $30. 
  • Honda CR-V - Most models have cabin air filters, and replacement filters can cost anywhere from $10 to $20. 
  • Chevrolet Equinox - Most models have cabin air filters, and replacement filters can cost anywhere from $10 to $25. 

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Some newer models have cabin air filters, and replacement filters can cost anywhere from $15 to $30.

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