Does your car's interior smell funny? Do you buy air fresheners by the dozens, but the odd smell is only masked for a brief while and then comes back? Identifying the real problem behind the mysterious odor can be difficult; especially if there are parts on your car that you weren't aware existed--like the cabin air filter. According to experts, many car owners don't realize that such a part exists in their vehicles, much less if it ever needs to be changed. Whether you know about it or not, a cabin air filter is an essential part of your car's ventilation system--removing pollutants, solid contaminants like dust and soot, and absorbing odors and gases--that needs to be maintained like the rest of a vehicle's components.
Over time, the cabin air filter in you car becomes less efficient as it gets dirty with use. This can be the cause of the strange odor you smell (and are trying to get rid of with dozens of 99-cent air fresheners). However, it's not just the smell that will affect you, because a dirty cabin air filter can decrease the performance of the air conditioning and heating sytems--causing an even more uncomfortable ride.
Vehicle manufacturers usually recommend replacing the cabin air filter at least once a year or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. So why change these filters? Obviously to ensure the quality of air that passengers breathe every minute they are in the car--this is especially important for people with allergies and respiratory problems. Also, the interior of the car remains cleaner with properly filtered air, and a dirty filter puts more wear on the ventilation system; since there is higher air-flow resistance, the blower must work much harder. This process will eventually reduce the heating and air conditioning performance.
No matter what, it's important to remember that the cabin air filter needs to be maintained. If you can't figure out what that smell in your car is--we are all guilty of leaving the gym shoes in the car on a hot day--or your heating and air conditioning is not working like it should, then take the vehicle to your service center and have the filter professionally inspected and replaced if necessary.
Einstein's is happy to inspect cabin air filters FREE of charge and offers replacements when needed!
The above was written by Kara Bishop and was published in the Fall 2011 edition of Vehicle MD.