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Replace a/c filter?

I bring my 2009 Camry to the dealership for its scheduled oil changes. At 20,000 and 25,000 miles, they have now begun to try and sell me other stuff. Do I really need my a/c filter changed at 25,000? I let them do some other thing I’d never heard of at 20,000 miles, and when I came home and looked it up, the feedback was ‘unnecessary’. Also, $50 for an a/c filter? Seems excessive, especially when they wanted $25 for a regular air filter, which I changed myself.

$50 for a cabin air filter installed is not excessive. Sure, you can get it cheaper at an auto parts store or walmart, but shops don’t make money by selling parts at cost or doing work for free. Even mechanics have to eat and often have a family to support. If you want to know what your car needs done and when to do it, check your owner’s manual. There should be a maintenance schedule. If there are no recommendations for transmission and fuel filter changes, you should also add those services on at 30-40k mile intervals if you want to keep this car for more than three years.

What services did they sell you that were deemed unnecessary by others? I may agree, and am curious. Many dealerships will sell unnecessary services. The service writer is usually a salesman with little to no mechanical knowledge or aptitude, which is how this happens.

The maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual (or in the case of my dad’s '10 Corolla, a separate manual completely) is the gospel. Which applies to your Camry?

Anyway, it will tell you when the a/c filter needs to be done. At 25k it isn’t a bad idea. My Accord specifies it every 30k.

Why are you going to the dealership for maintenance?

A family owned mechanic can do this work for much less, and just as well.

Anyway look at your owner’s manual / maintenance handbook and see what it says, and check out some other shops too.

It is AGAINST THE LAW [in most states] for Toyota to void your warranty for having preventative maintenance done by independent techs. So keep your receipts. Hope that helps.

#1 look in your owner’s manual and see what maintenance is listed there for your car. Take a look at the regular schedule and look for the “severe service” definition and schedule.

Why are you taking it to the dealer. Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Check your owner’s manual and it may give you instructions on how to replace the cabin air filter. The reason for changing this filter is the same as the reason your change the filter on a forced air furnace/air conditioning system in your living quarters.

The filter you need is probably available for less cost than what the dealer’s parts department wants for a filter.

Thank you all for the advice. The owner’s manual recommends the cabin air filter at 30,000. Now for the part 2. I’ve only owned this car for 13 months. So, do I go strictly by mileage, or factor in age as well?

With all filters the recomendation is just an educated guess, individual local conditions vary widely and this is a ‘look and see’ answer.

If you can change your own engine air filter , you can change your own a/c filter.
When you do, you’ll see if it’s due, past due, or not yet.

I’ve only owned this car for 13 months. So, do I go strictly by mileage, or factor in age as well?

Did you buy it new? If so just carefully read the owner’s manual. It will have standard schedule and will likely say something like use time or miles which ever comes first and it will also likely have a severe service schedule, along with a definition of severe service.

If the owner’s manual tells you how to remove and replace the filter, take it out and look at it. If it is dirty, it’s time for a new filter. If not, put it back in.

Yes, I bought it new last June. I drive about 60 miles a day round trip to and from work, so I tend to put about 20,000 miles a year on a car. I traded an '03 Explorer with 166,000.

That filter lists for $37 so $50 installed is not bad.

It costs $21 on-line and you can put it in yourself.

I vacuum mine about once a year and replace them about once every 5 years.