What Does The Cabin Air Filter Do In A Car?

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Paul S.

The Cabin air filter is a filter in your car that can go unnoticed for a while.  There are no lights or alarms that go off to let you know it needs to be replaced.  So a lot of people do not remember them or even know they are there. They are there to screen out any unwanted pollutants from the outside that can get circulated into your car.  

While a new cabin air filter won’t miraculously remove all pollutants from the air, it will ensure that your car’s inside air is somewhat cleaner than the outside air is. 

We’ll go over what a cabin air filter accomplishes, how to replace and how often you should change it in this post plus more!

When Should I Replace My Cabin Air Filter?

Dirty vs Clean Cabin Air Filter
Dirty Vs Clean Cabin Air Filter

The recommended time to replace it is annually or every 15,000 to 30,00 miles. This can depend on how much you drive and where you are driving. Checking your owner’s manual is recommended to ensure they don’t have any other recommendations. 

The cabin air filter must be changed every 5,000 miles if you’re through severely polluted areas or dirt roads. Allergy sufferers may want to change it more frequently to preserve air quality and reduce allergy symptoms.

If the air flowing through your car’s interior vents is blowing with significantly less force and has a foul musty stench, you probably need a new cabin air filter. Replacing your cabin air filter is a simple way to keep all of your car occupants comfortable and your ventilation system running smoothly. A new cabin air filter will not only enhance the quality of the air inside your car, but it’ll also increase the airflow from the heating and air conditioning systems.

Can I Change My Cabin Air Filter Myself?

If you’re wondering if you can change your car air cabin filter, the answer is a resounding yes! Changing it yourself is relatively easy but will require some basic household tools. You’ll need access to the owner’s manual and a screwdriver. 

If you have thrown out the owner’s manual, don’t worry, all owner’s manuals can be found online. 

The owner’s manual will include specific directions for replacing your car’s cabin air filter, but here are the fundamentals of changing your car’s cabin air filter.

Typical Cabin Air Filter Removal: 

  1. Remove everything from your glove box by opening it. 
  2. Disengage the glove box damper from the glove box; there may be a screw holding it in place. 
  3. Squeeze the glove box on all sides while dragging it toward you to remove it. 
  4. Behind the glove box, look for the cabin air filter cover. 
  5. To reveal the cabin air filter, gently press the tabs on either side of the lid inward. 
  6. Pull the cabin filter outward toward you to remove it from the housing.


  1. Check that the new cabin air filter and the old cabin air filter have the same design. 
  2. In the housing, install the new cabin air filter. Ensure the new filter’s airflow arrow points in the direction that the old filter was pointing.  In some cases, this does not matter. 
  3. Replace the filter cover by snapping it back in place. 
  4. Replace the glove box by mounting it in place and lightly gripping both sides while pushing it back into place. 
  5. Reattach the glove box damper to the glove box. 
  6. Close your glove box and place everything back inside.

Reminder! Always check your service manual before starting any job. If you’re not sure you can do it yourself, hire a skilled specialist to assist you.

Typically a cabin air filter will cost you between $15 to $50 but that will depend on many variables. Some expensive vehicles’ air filters can get up to $50 to $100!  

Check out pepboys.com to check what it would cost you to get an air filter for your car! At the link you can input your vehicle and it will provide you the selections it has for it.

Changing your own cabin air filter is great because you save a little bit of money and a lot of time from sitting at the dealership waiting for them to work on it.  You will be surprised at how fast you can do it!

How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Cabin Air Filter?

According to the experts, having your local mechanic change your cabin air filter might cost anything from $40 to $130. This difference could be because it varies depending on national averages for all vehicles and locations and excludes taxes, fees, and your specific make and model. 

If you don’t want to do it yourself, $40 is a reasonable price if it includes the parts. However, given the minimal labor required to replace most cabin air filters, even $40 may seem excessive. Other large chains charge between $39 and $60, while others charge between $44 and $156.

Reminder! Some costs may be covered if you visit your service center while your car is still under warranty.


When it comes to the air you breathe inside your car, air quality is often disregarded. The cabin air filter is vital as it removes a range of pollutants from the air that enters and circulates throughout. 

If you don’t replace your cabin air filter, it will become blocked with dirt and debris, lowering its efficiency and putting your car’s air conditioning system at risk. As the air volume in your passenger area decreases, foul odors will develop. Replacing your cabin air filter will drastically improve the air quality in your car and contribute to a proper ventilation system for the safety and health of all passengers.

Check out are article on the cabin air filters brother, the engine air filter. The same type of filter but a totally different use. This one is also very easy to change as well!