Filter Buyers Guide 

Automotive Cabin Filters

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Many passenger vehicles manufactured today include a cabin filter. The trend is to have cabin filters standard in all models in North America and Europe. Higher population density and traffic congestion have made Europe and Asia the leaders in installing cabin filters in their passenger vehicles. Check your owner’s manual to determine if your vehicle has a cabin air filter installed and its location. If your vehicle does not have a cabin filter or if it is not changed regularly, your car's engine could be getting cleaner air than you!

What is a Cabin Filter?

The principle purpose of a cabin filter is to remove and stop harmful and irritating contaminants and odors from entering the passenger compartment. Cabin air filters also prevent leaves, dirt, bugs and other debris from entering the HVAC system and negatively impacting the operation of the heating system, air conditioner, defroster or demister. The combi style or activated carbon version of cabin air filters are impregnated with an activated carbon material to help eliminate outside odors from entering the passenger compartment. (The media of the combi version is usually dark colored while the basic version is white). These are some typical cabin air filter designs:
Cabin Particle Filter Cabin Particle Other Cabin Activated Carbon Cabin A/C Style

Why is a Cabin Filter important?

Many drivers and passengers today are concerned about the health effects of breathing in exhaust gases and vapors while driving. Many are also concerned about pollens, allergens and germs as well as dust particles, odors and smog. Another area of concern today is the level of air pollutants within a vehicle. Depending on the type (particle/basic or combi/activated carbon), a quality cabin air filter will stop allergens, dust, pollen, soot, bacteria and other contaminants from entering your car. The cabin air filter also keeps the heating, venting, and air conditioning system components free from contaminants  which aids in driver safety by allowing optimum operation of demisting/defrosting functions in varying climatic conditions. This is why the cabin filter is so important.

Where is the Cabin Filter located?

Typically, cabin air filters are located either under the hood near the vents or around the glove box under the dash inside the vehicle.
Glovebox Under Hood
Under dash near glovebox area Under hood near vents


For most vehicles, the cabin air filter can be replaced in anything from 15 to 30 minutes. Some vehicles may take longer depending on where the filter is located and/or may have a set of two to replace.

The cabin air filter should be changed regularly every 12,000 to 15,000 miles (20,000 kms/25,000 kms) or once a year. However, it should be changed sooner if the quality of the air inside the vehicle is noticeably deteriorating or if the demisting function is less than optimal. Changing the cabin filter in most vehicles could be considered a DIY project. See the great range of quality cabin filters and find the one that fits your vehicle now at (click this link for special offers). You can count on Advance Auto Parts on-line or in-store to have the quality cabin filter for your vehicle.

More Information

Following is a list of Technical Service Bulletins related to cabin filters (in PDF format - click on each one to open) which are provided as a service to the public by the Filter Manufacturers Council:

Introduction to Cabin Air Filters: Their Purpose, Design and Function
Manufacturers' Warranty

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