Our lungs breathe in between 2,100 and 2,400 gallons of air per day. Make that 2,000 gallons of polluted and contaminated air and we wouldn't be around for long. Being in such close proximity in a vehicle, contaminated air finds its way into your lungs easily and at a greater concentration. Vehicle manufacturers came to this realization and have in the past few years implemented cabin air filters into most vehicles. Since this concept is fairly new, some people are not aware of cabin air filters or their purpose.
Cabin air filters are a high particulate filtration mechanism that is attached to the outside air intake of some vehicle's ventilation systems. They help keep the air you breathe clean and prevent pollution from circulating in your car and have become an important component of your car's ventilation system.
It is not uncommon to see cars with the original filter because drivers are unaware that they need to be changed. The filters are usually extremely dirty because they have been used for years, causing a decline in efficiency and the contaminated cabin air is no longer being filtered out properly.
Dirty cabin air filters cause the car to work harder, the air conditioning to run less efficiently and the airflow to the cabin will be lower than when the cabin air filter was clean. It is recommended that you have your cabin air filter changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. However, if you tend to drive down a lot of dirt and gravel roads, you may want to have it changed more frequently. Allergy sufferers should consider changing theirs more often than what is recommended to help reduce the number of allergens in their car.
The cabin air filter will trap common pollutants from the air entering your cabin, such as pollen, dirt, leaves, and mold. You can find out if your car has a cabin air filter by referring to your owners manual, and it if does, make sure to ask your technician to check the cabin air filter and change it regularly. You may be surprised to find out you are driving around with one that is original to the car, and there's no telling how dirty it may be or what surprises you may find hidden inside!
The above article was written by Katie Schlosser and was published in the Summer 2012 edition of Vehicle MD.