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I Have A Question about cabin air filters

I have a 2007 Toyota Corolla, I recently had it in to replace the airbags and they told me I needed to replace the cabin air filter. How necessary are they, or were just trying to make some money off me as the airbags did not cost me to have them replaced as it was a safety recall?

You should have replaced the filter several times since 2007. No need to have the dealer do it, head on over to Walmart, Advance etc and pick one up, around $20, very easy to replace. If you are not familiar with where it is or how to do it, google You tube and you will find a lot of videos.

This video shows a screw that needs to be removed, on my Corolla I can pull glove box off without removing a screw.

When was it last replaced? When does your owner’s manual say to replace it?

If we are to believe that the OP hasn’t had the cabin air filter changed during the car’s 9 year existence, then my best suggestion is to have that almost totally-obstructed filter removed–and not replaced.
Yes, you can certainly live without a cabin air filter, but your HVAC fan is not likely to last much longer while trying to pull air through a 9 year old filter.

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Cabin air filters are only there to filter the cabin air, and have no effect on the operation of the cars’ systems including the heating/venting/cooling system beyond removing airborne particulates. It is not necessary for it to be there for the car to function properly.

My car has a receptacle for a filter, but no filter. The next year’s model came with the filter installed. I almost always drive with my windows open at least partially, and often my roof (weather permitting), so for me a cabin filter would be useless. For someone with hay fever or other allergies it might be a good thing.

In short, you can remove the old filter and leave the box empty at your preference.

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If you have a filter and don’t clean replace it or clean it in 9 years it surely can affect the HVAC system. Removing it won’t harm anything - however it can cause an increase in noise. I removed mine on my 4Runner as I drove to the parts store to get a new one. The HVAC system had a nice loud whistle until I put a new one in.

It depends on how much you drive and how dirty/dusty the air is where you live.
I find mine go easily 30,000 miles without getting too bad.

I replace mine at about 20,000 with the engine air cleaner. Take a look at all the junk accumulated on it and you’ll appreciate the filter.

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One advantage to replacing the filter is to discourage rodents from gaining access to the remainder of the HVAC ducting or getting inside the cabin. I have found numerous nests on TOP of cabin filters but not one yet that was chewed through. Some have screens on the inside surface as support for the element. The other issue if you eliminate the filter will be the need to block off the inside port so the air comes from the outside snorkel versus inside, behind the glovebox. Duct tape would suffice…

Cabin air filters are dirt cheap and a snap to replace. I doubt you were being taken advantage of. In my Toyota, it is up above the glove box and super easy to access. I change it annually. I think the part is under $30. It looks like a crinkled piece of cardboard and just slips into the filter frame.

Our ideas about dirt cheap are obviously different. :wink: Personally, I think they are the biggest rip off, I mean profit generator, in the car maintenance realm…but I still end up replacing mine just grumbling about it every time…

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Compared to other products made of the same material - cabin air filters are extremely over priced. Dealer filter prices are outrageous. 2-3 times the cost of the same filter from a local parts store.

I need to replace my filter at least 3 times a year. Lot of construction so it’s always getting dirty.

If the OP is going to the trouble of getting the old filter out, might as well go to Walmart and get a replacement.

The big ripoff is the price charged by many dealers for the replacement, close to $100 in some cases.

If the cabin air filter is removed the debris normally collected by the filter will accumulate against the evaporator core, this can result in corrosion and a refrigerant leak.

The cabin air filter can collect a lot of debris is just 15,000 miles.

So what happened to cars prior to 2005? Most cars prior to 05 didnt have filters.

You can order them online for about $10, they are hardly a critical part so any brand will do. My Toyota dealer wants $60 +tax . $30 for the filter, $30 for labor.
You don’t need a trained technician and dealer overhead to do this.

They did nothing wrong in trying to sell you this however, some people like having everything done by the dealer and are willing to pay for it.

The evaporators developed leaks and we got paid to replace them. This wasn’t a problem until the mid 90’s when manufactures changed the corrosion protection coating on the evaporator coils, then we began seeing leaking evaporators.

My 2009 Mexican Sienna spent the last 7 years within the range of an active volcano. I had no idea where the filter was, but my SIL (son-in-law) told me. Open the glove compartment, reach in, and press the sides toward the center and it swings all the way down, and there is the filter. No screws.

It was dirty, and yes, it looked like volcanic ashes.

I bought an extra while I was at it, so it doesn’t get dirty because I don’t have a new one.

My wife is very sensitive or imagines she is, to dust and dirt, and I don’t mind going a step further if it makes her feel better. By helping me live in Mexico, she has done me a great favor and it would be hard to fully compensate her for that sacrifice. She said when she left here in 1963 she thought she had escaped forever and I dragged her back. Hee, hee.

Of course, it is much different to live in a Mexican village in extreme poverty and to live in a Mexican village with significant income. But, I guess that is true every place, no?

It’s an urban myth that a fan motor can be damage due to the lack of air flow.

As a matter fact, the exact opposite will occur. It’s called over horse-powering the fan motor.

If the fan isn’t pumping any air, the motor is using very little power to rotate the fan.

But if on the other hand, if the motor is sized too small for the amount air you ask the fan to pump, the motor will overheat and be destroyed.

Here’s a fan curve that shows that the less air that the fan has to pump, the less power required by the motor


Normally, I would agree with that advice, and that is certainly what I do with my car every 1 1/2 years or so.
However, if the OP is to be believed, his/her cabin air filter has been in place for 9 years, and under circumstances like that I would advise simply removing the filter and not replacing it, rather than have the “new” filter also remain in place for almost a decade.