Cabin air filter


#1

it’s a PITA to replace in my car, can I just leave it out, like cars for the last century or so?


#2

I just changed mine, luckily not too hard. If it was a real PITA, I’d change is less frequently (say every 40k). That way I’m keeping dirt off the evaporator coil.


#3

I guess it’s fine to leave it out. My 05 4runner is the first vehicle I ever owned that had one. But it’s easy to replace. My wifes 07 Lexus is REAL EASY to replace.

We’ve received flyers in the mail from the Toyota and Lexus dealers over the years. My local Toyota dealer charges $40 (labor) to replace it. The Lexus dealer charges $50 (labor). I takes me less then 5 minutes on the 4runner…and less then 1 minute on my wifes Lexus. And MOST of that time is just removing things from the glove box.


#4

The filter should keep the motor and fan clean and free of dirt, dust, and debris. All that leads to the fan motor lasting longer. I’d replace the filter. In most cars it isn’t too difficult. In Honda’s you remove a couple of clips so the glove box drops down to get access to the filter.


#5

“My local Toyota dealer charges $40 (labor) to replace it. The Lexus dealer charges $50 (labor).”

My Lincoln dealer wanted $70, part included. That was all the inspiration I needed, bought several from Rockauto for about $20 each (I think), set for years to come.


#6

I replaced it on our Corolla in about 5 minutes. It’s under the glove box, which comes out. We live in a dusty area and keeping the interior dust free is high priority for my wife.


#7

You can leave it out, but what do you gain? It may be a pain to change, but assuming you replace it every 30,000 miles that’s what, every 2 years? If you want to remove it you’ll have to access it to take it out. Might as well put a new one and ask the question again in a couple of years.


#8

I replace ours at 20K. Couldn’t figure it out until I went to youtube. They’d changed the design and actually made it easier. At any rate it was pretty dirty at 20K so just depends on how yours looks if you can go longer. I’d be concerned leaving it out might open up and entry point for critters that would otherwise be blocked. Don’t know but I’d probably put the frame back in with a screen on it rather than leaving it wide open.


#9

"You can leave it out, but what do you gain? It may be a pain to change, but assuming you replace it every 30,000 miles that’s what, every 2 years? If you want to remove it you’ll have to access it to take it out. Might as well put a new one and ask the question again in a couple of years. "

+1 !

Additionally, I will add that, if the OP or any of his family members have allergies to…dust…pollen…mold spores, it is really a good idea to replace that filter.

Yes, we all did without cabin air filters for many decades, but that is a fairly poor rationale for doing without this feature. After all…Your grandparents may not have had flush toilets, central heating, or air conditioning, but…Do you really want to rid your home of these types of conveniences?


#10

I was a skeptic, but the two I just removed were sure dirty.


#11

What kind of car? There are often tricks to make it less of a PITA to change.


#12

+1

Year, make, and model will help us figure out if there is an easy way to do it. I had a 1998 Regal and replacing the cabin air filter was tough, but I did it anyway. It got easier the more I did it though.


#13

The filter in my Accord is behind the glove box. It literally takes longer to put all the stuff back in the glove box than to change the filter. I’ve got too much self-respect to pay a dealer $50 for that job.


#14

I am amazed at how dirty the cabin filters become in my vehicles. These cabin filters get as dirty as the furnace filters in my house. I would advise keeping the cabin filter in the car and replacing it on a periodic basis for the same reason that a person periodically replaces the filter on a forced air furnace.
Just a side note here–the church I attend has air handlers in a crawl space and the filters were in the return air pipes in the crawl space next to the air handlers. Another person and I got the idea to install registers in the air returns so that we could easily replace the filters without going into the crawl space. Two filters would be dirty when we would replace them, but one filter remained clean. We discovered that the return line for this air handler had a bad leak in a remote part of the crawl space. The air filter that was never dirty tipped us off to this problem. You want air filters, whether in your home or car, to get dirty. That shows the system is doing its job to provide cleaner air.


#15

I have a 2012 Toyota Camry and my daughter has a 2011 Corilla, when my daughter went in for her free 2 year service and oil change, they charged her $60 to replace the cabin filter. ToyotaCare pays them to remove ,inspect, clean and replace that filter. I asked the service writer what additional labor cost there was to replace it than to clean it. He just got red-faced but didn’t answer. I just replaced the one in my Camry for less than $11.
By the way, the cabin filter won’t keep dirt out of the evaporator coil. It filters the air after the coil. If anything it helps dirt build up faster on the coil than if you left it out.


#16

“By the way, the cabin filter won’t keep dirt out of the evaporator coil. It filters the air after the coil. If anything it helps dirt build up faster on the coil than if you left it out.”

That varies from car to car, and many have the filter accessed from the outside of the car under the wiper cowling or in the car before the blower motor. It seems to me the best place is at the air inlet to trap anything before it even enters the car. Although I have heard that having it after the blower motor will also filter the air when in recirculate mode.

Then again this is all negated if you drive with the windows open.


#17

Thanks for the correction asemaster, these are the first cars in our family to have a cabin filter, so I wasn’t aware that some cars had them in the air intake. That is one of the reasons I browse this site, to learn new things.


#18

My 1999 Accord requires you to completely remove the glove box, several pieces of trim and quite a few screws and supports. The dealer quotes a filter replacement as one hour of labor plus the filter. It takes me 45 to 60 minutes to do it myself now but the first time I did it the job took over two hours. My 04 Sienna takes 5 minutes and my 2012 Mazda 3 takes about 10 minutes. I change them all every 30,000 miles or when they look really dirty (if it is before 30,000 miles).