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How to Replace Your Car’s Cabin Air Filter

Get expert tips on changing your car’s cabin air filter, and learn how to keep the air in your car clean if you don’t have one.

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How to replace your car's cabin air filterPhoto: Shutterstock

Keep the Air Clean in Your Car

About half of all newer cars are equipped with a cabin air filter. If your car has one (check your owner’s manual), you’re supposed to change it every 20,000 to 25,000 kilometres, or once a year. But if you’re like most drivers, you’re still driving with the original filter and it’s likely clogged. It’s not just a comfort issue. Just as a clogged furnace filter reduces the furnace’s efficiency, a clogged cabin air filter reduces the efficiency of the heating and cooling system for the car interior.

A clogged filter can also cause major window fogging problems and contribute to lower gas mileage. And because of the sluggish airflow, eventually you’ll have to replace a burned-out blower motor for $150 or more.

The good news is that cabin air filter replacement is a do-it-yourself project. The filter cost only $25 at the dealer, and the job took less than 30 minutes. In most cases, you’ll only need a Phillips screwdriver. You can usually find replacement instructions in the owner’s manual.

If your manual doesn’t show how to find and replace the filter, ask the dealer parts department for instructions. Many new filters have an instruction sheet-or the instructions may be on the manufacturer’s web site.

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Where to Find Your Car's Cabin Air Filter

Where to Find Your Car’s Cabin Air Filter

Unscrew the glove box hinges. Then press in on both sides of the glove box to tilt it down and pull it free to access the filter tray.

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Out with the Old Air Filter

Out with the Old Air Filter

Slide out the filter tray and the old filter. Note the orientation of the pleats and install the new filter in the same direction.

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Replace with the New Filter

Replace with the New Filter

Slide the filter tray back into place and reassemble the glove box.

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No Cabin Filter? Add an Air Purifier

No Cabin Filter? Add an Air Purifier

If your car isn’t equipped with a cabin air filter, you’re not out of luck-you can still add an ion purifier. Ion purifiers generate billions of negatively charged ions that attach to viruses, bacteria, dust and pollen. The particles are then attracted to positively charged surfaces like your plastic dashboard. Once they settle, it’s just a matter of using a spray cleaner on all the hard surfaces to wipe away the pollutants.

Check out more do-it-yourself car maintenance tips!

Explore Reader’s Digest Cars.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman