Even though summer is nearly over, the work your vehicle's air conditioner did over the past few months means that more pollen, dust, pollutants and allergens are drawn inside the vehicle through air conditioning and ventilation systems creating a situation where the interior air can be dirtier and unhealthier than the air outside. To combat this, the Car Care Council recommends replacing the cabin air filter regularly.
More than 80 percent of new domestic and import vehicles sold today come equipped with a cabin air filtration system or a slot where one can be installed. Most filters are accessed through a panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or placed within the interior of the vehicle.
The cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning the air entering the passenger compartment. Under normal circumstances, it helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle's heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
If the cabin air filter is not replaced, it can cause musty odors in the vehicle, and over time, the heater and air conditioner may become damaged by corrosion.
A cabin air filter should not be cleaned and reinstalled. Instead, it should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or per the owner's manual.
In areas with heavy airborne contaminants, it should be changed as often as necessary.