Cabin air filter

We have a 2006 Subaru Legacy sedan (18,000 miles.) The dealer says there’s a cabin air filter which we’re supposed to change every 9,000 miles. The owner’s manual says the same thing. We have a 2002 Outback and the manual mentions “air filtration system - if equipped.” We’ve never been told we have one or to change its filter.

I think they want $150-$200. The part must be difficult to access. This seems like a high recurring expense. Any info or insights are much appreciated.

My Honda Accord has a cabin air filter that is supposed to be replaced every 30,000 miles but I do it every 45,000. It is a pain to access since you have to pull apart much of the passenger side dashboard. I do it myself in about an hour and a half since the dealer wants $150 to do it. 9000 miles seems like an awfully short interval.

Subaru specifies a much shorter interval (9,000 miles) for the replacement of the cabin air filter than most of the other manufacturers (actually, there are two filters in their system), but I have given myself permission to replace it once a year–which works out to 11,000-12,000 miles, and I have not experienced any problems with that schedule. In order to access the filters, you have to remove the glove box AND the right-hand side of the center console, which is a bit of a pain.

As to whether your 2002 model has a cabin air filter, take a look at the edge of the dashboard where it meets the driver’s door. This is only visible when the door is open. If you do have a cabin air filter, there is a label (silver-colored IIRC) that mentions the filter and the 9k interval for replacement. Alternatively, if you saved the window sticker from when you bought the car, this will mention the presence of the filter if you do indeed have one.

To the best of my knowledge, the filter only came on vehicles equipped with automatic climate control, but it is possible that the filter was an option on lower cost models also. In either event, the window sticker would mention it, as would that label that I mentioned.

Also–my dealership charges approximately $100. for this service (parts + labor), so I think that the $150.–$200. that you were quoted is out of line.

Amazingly, we got along without cabin air filters for about 100 years prior but now they are installed on just about every car. $100-$200 almost 2x year (on average) is ridiculous. My car has one. I plan to replace it when the airflow diminishes because it is plugged. 50k miles and it’s still in fine shape (I looked). I guess if you have severe allergies, this is a nice option. AFAIC, it can be removed and left out once it gets plugged up.

But its nice to know that this stuff is not getting past the filter causing far worse problems. IMHO its well worth the small cost, especially if the car gets parked under trees

Where do you live? There has to be a lot of dust or debris to foul a cabin air filter in 9000 miles. You’d have to suck 3 or 4 toads to get those kind of hallucinations on the east coast.