How to change the cabin filter in your car

How do I change the cabin filter?

The majority of motorists understand the structure of technics, know the principles of work of the basic knots, units. But not many of them give time to the minor details. Take, for example, the cabin protection filter. More than 30 % of drivers don’t know about its existence until their “personal acquaintance” or detection of breakage at the next technical inspection.

Cabin filter: a little history

Cabin cleaning system appeared much later than the air filter in its classic form. The number of vehicles rapidly increased, the first traffic jams were formed. Man was forced to invent a way to protect themselves from the negative effects of toxic substances.

The first paper cleaner was only 5.0 microns thick. The base was powerless against most toxins, gases. In the ’90s, the purifiers were modernized. They looked like powerful, functional units, and they added activated carbon to absorb cabin air.

All modern cars are equipped with standard air purifiers by default. Cheap cars have paper filters; premium-segment brands have charcoal filters that neutralize all extraneous odors.

By letting the air flow through, the filters trap microparticles of dirt. The process of gradual clogging takes place. Occurrence of extraneous odor, weak air flow are the main signs of malfunction.

About how to change the filter and what tools are needed for this, consider the following.

Why do you need a cabin filter in the car

The main purpose of the component is to clean the air coming from the outside into the car. For the full intake of air flow, the car is equipped with channels (hoses), capturing the flows in the process of movement.

The table lists substances that can affect the health of the driver and passengers, with their respective hazard classes:

The cleaning element helps filter the air coming from the air conditioning system. Budget segment models have combined air supply and flow circulation ducts.

But why do you need a filter if the doors are systematically opened and there are still gaps at the joints? There is an explanation: the greatest amount of toxic substances enters the cabin during driving, with dense traffic. The permissible rate exceeds 10 – 12 times, in the “calm” state of the car the concentration is 3.0%. At this concentration, there is no danger to the human body and respiratory system.

Cabin filter types

There are 2 types:

  • Classic anti-dust filters.
  • With carbon filler.

The design and construction of antidust filters allow them to clean the surface from impurities, dirt, soot, allergens. Paper or a variety of synthetic fibers are taken as a basis. The filter retains particles no larger than 1.0 micron. Anything larger will get through.

Five years ago, synthetic-based elements were upgraded. How is the cabin filter better? It’s molecularly attracted dust particles.

Carbon filters are called universal filters, but they also have trouble trapping carbon monoxide. If the concentration is high, they are also powerless. The basis is a porous substance – activated carbon. The minimum pellet size is 0.5 micron.

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There are different kinds of paper cleaners, but they don’t differ significantly from the classic paper and charcoal versions.

Where does the filter stand?

The designs of air ducts, air intake systems, and vehicle cleaners vary. In recent years, there has been a trend to standardize the shapes of units, including ventilation systems. A rectangular shaped frame made of durable polymer material is a universal option.

The typical location is behind the glove box wall on the right side of the console. On some models, there is a cabin filter in the engine compartment, under the windshield, on the left side of the torpedo, near the back of the engine.

Here’s where the cabin filter is on popular models:

  • Toyota Corolla: right side of center torpedo.
  • Chevrolet Cruze: also on the right side, but closer to the center of the console.
  • DAEWOO Lanos: in the underhood, under the windshield on the right side.

How do I change the cabin filter?

You can replace the cleaning elements yourself or in a workshop. To replace yourself, you need minimal skills in car maintenance. You should not install the components yourself on cars with a valid warranty from the manufacturer. In case of unprofessional intervention, there is a high probability of violation of the installation technology – because of this, the car will “fly off” the warranty. To reduce the risks, it is better to entrust the work to the professionals of the service station.

If you are set to act independently, but do not know how to remove the filter, read the instructions, technical recommendations, watch video lessons.

Dismantling the cabin filter in the car

The procedure, how to properly remove the element, let’s consider the example of cars with the classic location of the air system – in the right side of the console, behind the wall of the glove box.

On most cars the box body is fixed by plastic latches on the sides, and in the bottom part there are two bolts for greater effect. Use a flat-tipped screwdriver to pry each of the latches and unscrew the bolts. Access to the end part of the case is provided. The protective cover is removed, the element itself is removed.

How to install the protective filter?

After dismantling it is necessary to wipe the cavity, mount a new, clean element in accordance with the guides. Guides are present on each product. Only one direction of installation is possible – keep this in mind during installation. If the fixing technology is violated, the filter will not work properly.

How often should I change the cabin filter?

When to change the filter is determined by the manufacturer. According to the established practice, the filter is changed every 30,000 km – that is, every second maintenance. The “unwritten” rule is adhered to in the EU and CIS countries. There is no need to change it often. If the surface of the filter is clean, there are no damages, you don’t have to replace it – it is enough to blast thoroughly with a stream of compressed air, put it back. You can do it not more than once.

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It is the owner himself who should change the filter in time, as it is about his health and comfort. If you drive in special conditions, when the level of gassiness, dustiness exceeds the permissible limits, reduce the interval of replacement by one third. The manufacturer allows self-adjustment of the replacement interval, but without harming the vehicle.

Changing the cabin filter of the car with your own hands

Changing the cabin filter of the car with your own hands

The air filter, which is located in the passenger compartment, is installed in many modern vehicles. Its main purpose is to clean the air entering the cabin through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. People who suffer from allergies are especially sensitive to air quality, so the filter’s ability to trap dust, pollen and other fine particles is important to them. Since this element ensures the comfort of people while traveling, it is necessary to take care of timely replacement of the car cabin filter.

Functions of the car cabin filter

Motorists often ask – why does the filtration require so much attention, because in addition to the air intake, the air enters the cabin also through the gaps in the seals and while we open the doors.

You can’t argue with that, but the concentration of hazardous substances for health increases only during intensive driving, with dense traffic and low speed. In such an environment, the air, along with the exhaust of the vehicle in front, enters the air intake. At such close distances from the exhaust system, permissible concentrations of harmful components can be exceeded 10-15 times.

Functions of the car cabin filter

If you measure a few meters away from a running car in the street, the device will show an insignificant excess of pollutants in the air or concentrations within the norm.

In addition to toxic substances, the cabin filter must contain dust, soot and rubber. The size of such particles is big enough for even the simplest filter to catch them without problems, so we will not talk about them and will better consider the hard-to-catch combustion products in detail.

Exhaust gases contain many harmful compounds, and in some concentrations they have a negative impact on human health. We’re not just talking about the headaches, involuntary sneezing and sore eyes here, but also the chronic illnesses to which their exposure can lead.

The maximum allowable concentrations of chemical substances that negatively influence the human organism are defined in regulations GN, establishing the maximum single and average daily concentrations, as well as the hazard class of each substance.

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Where is the cabin air filter in your car?

The location of cabin air filters is usually the inside wall of the glove compartment. It is not difficult to replace them. To do this, you need to remove the glove compartment from the fasteners (see the manual) and then remove the element that holds the filter. It can also be located under the dashboard, it is harder to get there, or under the hood, where the air flows into the ventilation and air conditioning system.

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The price of most filters is quite high, especially at an authorized dealer. A simpler and inexpensive way is to buy a non-original filter at any auto parts store and replace it with your own hands.

Cabin filter in a car

When you do the next service at the dealer or in an automobile repair shop and come across a recommendation to replace the car cabin filter, first take a look at the previously installed one. Longevity causes the air intake side filter to become clogged with leaves, twigs, insects, soot, and dirt, a picture that may shock you. All this just confirms the words of a mechanic, whose recommendations you’d better heed.

Types and Types of Cabin Filters

Car cabin filters come in two types:

  • ordinary filters against dust;
  • charcoal filters.

Conventional dust filters clean the air from dust and soot, as well as plant pollen and other elements that cause allergies. The filter element of such a filter is paper or synthetic fiber, whose ability to trap particles is limited to 1 micron. Synthetic fibers are easily electrified, and this feature allows them to trap particles by attracting them to themselves.

The dust filter differs from the engine power system air filter in that it has a low density of filter media. This is because the vehicle ventilation system is not able to create the same airflow that is created in the intake manifold and provides the vacuum. The main disadvantage of the dust filter is its complete inability to trap toxic gases and unpleasant odors.

Cabin filters

Carbon-based cabin filters purify the air from any harmful compounds, and only carbon monoxide is problematic for them. Such filters are made of activated carbon, a porous substance with a large specific surface area. This becomes possible because the coal contains many microscopic pores ranging in size from one nanometer. It is in these pores that molecules of toxic gas interacting with activated carbon are trapped, but first of all, the gas is captured by macro- and mesopores and only then comes to the micropores. This process is called adsorption.

For what reason there are forces between molecules, by means of which one substance is captured by another, we will not understand, but it is worth saying that elements with large molecules are attracted and held more easily. The efficiency of the adsorption process is influenced by factors such as the flow rate through the substance, as well as the air temperature.

A cabin filter is a construction on which a special textile substrate is attached with 0.5 mm activated carbon pellets piled on it. Many charcoal filters are made in multiple layers, where layers of charcoal alternate with layers of fiber against dust. Each layer performs its own function, trapping particles of a certain type and size. At the output we get the air, which has gone through many stages of processing, which enters the cabin absolutely clean and safe for breathing.

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When the car cabin filter needs to be replaced

Each car manufacturer gives their own advice on when to replace the cabin air filter, and they vary widely. Some say you should change this filter every 10,000 kilometers, while others raise the bar to 25,000 kilometers.

Still, the majority of car manufacturers tend to believe that the cabin filter should be replaced depending on the conditions in which the car is operated. Consequently, a motorist from the south, where the air contains a lot of sand and other fine dust-like substances, should change the cabin filter more often than a motorist from a region with cleaner air.

Cabin Filter Replacement

In cities, where the flow of cars is denser, the car’s cabin filter should be changed more often than for motorists who operate their car outside the city, not spending several hours a day in traffic jams. For example, in a big city, the cabin filter gets clogged faster.

So, if you drive a car most of the time in an urban environment with heavy traffic, you need to change the filter much more often than on those cars that drive out of town and don’t stand for hours in multi-kilometer traffic jams. In large cities, for example, the cabin filter is much quicker to wear out.

The filter should be changed at least once a year, even though the manual may say otherwise. A small mileage of the car within a year is also not a reason to refuse replacement of the filter element. The manufacturer’s recommendations are needed in order to be guided and to keep track of this period.

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Signs that it’s time to replace your car’s cabin filter

The first warning sign that the cabin filter is unsuitable for continued use is an odor in the cabin of the car coming from outside. Continually procrastinating replacement of this part causes it to emit odors caused by dirt that has accumulated on it.

The vehicle owner’s manual specifies the service life of the standard cabin filter. Depending on the model it is in the range of 10 000-20 000 km of run. But it is worth remembering that its performance is determined for normal operating conditions. If your place of residence is a densely populated metropolis and you spend several hours in traffic, this period is reduced by half. Such conditions lead to the fact that the car’s cabin filter needs to be replaced every six months.

Sometimes, when you turn on the ventilation, you may notice dust rising from the air deflectors in the cabin. A dirty filter is known to be an excellent medium for mold growth, and along with dust, sand and dirt particles, pathogenic bacteria can easily get into the cabin from the ventilation system. So the cabin filter becomes a source of dangerous infections.

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A thick layer of dirt on the cabin filter reduces the draft in the ventilation system and impairs its performance. In this case, in summer it is hot in the car, and in winter, on the contrary, it is cold, because of poor work of the heater. In such conditions the conditioner is working with an increased load, and its resource is reduced.

Therefore it is not worth to take cheap filters, and especially to restore the old one by vacuuming or washing it, even if you are perfectly aware of its location and can easily remove and then place it back. Giving a second life to a worn out part is impossible, which means buying a new one is the smartest way out. The cost of a new cabin filter starts at 400 rubles.

Fogged Glass

If you noticed that the windows of your car are misting frequently, this is the first sign that the cabin filter needs to be replaced. Moisture settling on windows indicates malfunction of air conditioning and ventilation systems.

Fogged windows indicate that the filter element is heavily contaminated. The degree of its clogging is determined visually, but it is better to entrust the dismantling to a specialist, especially if you have never done it. Otherwise you may damage the mounts while removing the part. Also on many cars, you have to remove other parts to disassemble it. For this reason, it is better to perform this work in specialized car repair shops.

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Changing the cabin filter of your car by yourself

Changing the filter with your own hands is easy, but it is worth remembering about some nuances. Some cars allow you to perform this procedure in a couple of minutes, while others require much more effort and time. The ease of accessibility of the cleaning system plays no small role. For example, on the Nissan Almera Classic car, this procedure takes a few minutes, for which you remove the glove box (glove box), behind which you can immediately see the removable cabin filter cover. No special tools are required to perform this work.

Some cars have a more complex device, to make a replacement cabin filter car on them more difficult, and you can install a new part loose or at some angle. There is also a chance to break something – this has happened more than once. So take some advice: before you start the work you are doing for the first time, take the time to look at the instructions and understand the technology in detail, or take the advice of friends who have experience in this area.

Changing the Cabin Filter by Yourself

If upon visual inspection of the filter you have no doubts about the need to replace it, you can safely install a new one. But don’t forget, even if it looks very clean, but the last replacement was done more than a year ago, it is better to install a new one, as it most likely is no longer performing its function.

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