Cabin air filters should be changed approximately every 30,000 miles, but it is always best to consult the owner's manual for the recommended maintenance needs of the vehicle. Some manufacturers suggest changing the filter every 45,000 miles, while others recommend closer to 25,000 miles. If you drive on busy roads, in high temperatures, or on dusty, unpaved roads, it is recommended to replace the cabin air filter every 15,000 miles. Not replacing the filter regularly can lead to inhaling hazardous particles while inside the vehicle.
If you always drive with the windows closed and notice a layer of dust or pollen settling on the dashboard and other surfaces, it is a good idea to check the cabin air filter. A clogged filter can cause the HVAC system to work harder, putting unnecessary pressure on the engines and ventilation system. Cabin air filters help remove harmful contaminants such as pollen and dust from the air you breathe inside the car. Signs that you need a new cabin air filter include reduced airflow through the climate control system when you raise the fan too high and get more noise than results.
If a dealer's service department or repair shop recommends buying a new cabin air filter, ask to see the current one. Most car models manufactured after 2000 are equipped with cabin air filters; however, older models may not have them at all. If you notice weak ventilation airflow into the cabin or an unpleasant odor in your car, it is likely time to replace your cabin air filter. Many cabin air filters are located behind the glove box and can be easily accessed by releasing the glove box from its fasteners; instructions should be in the car's owner's manual.
Some luxury brands charge more for their parts and require that you only buy cabin air filters from their brand, while others suggest that you can buy a generic cabin air filter at your local automotive store. If you're servicing your vehicle at a repair shop or dealer, the technician might recommend a cabin air filter replacement. This may be due to buildup in the filter itself if you drive on dusty roads or live where there is a higher level of air pollutants such as pollen.