What Happens When My Cabin Air Filter is Clogged?

Like the filters that protect us from contaminants and debris in our household HVAC systems, automotive climate systems have similar filters to ensure the air being introduced to the cabin is clean and odor-free. 

If you’ve ever been riding in an older vehicle with a lingering musty/moldy odor, there’s a good chance that’s the result of a clogged filter. As car interiors are relatively compact areas, it’s easy for even the smallest odors to become trapped and circulate throughout your cabin. 

What is the Cabin Air Filter?

The cabin air filter, often located behind the glovebox of your vehicle, is one of the most important components for keeping your driving experience comfortable. As air is circulated through the ventilation system, it filters through this screen multiple times, catching unwanted dust, bacteria, pollen, and other airborne contaminants. 

These small paper-based filters are tightly woven, allowing in only clean air and leaving the contaminants behind. While this is great for ensuring clean air, it also allows the particles to create buildup on the filter. With this debris creating blockages, air will not be able to move through it at the proper rate, and may lead to issues for you and your passengers. 

Symptoms of Clogged Cabin Air Filter

Unpleasant Odors

As the filter becomes blocked, it will no longer adequately filter the airflow into your interior. This will lead to some unwanted bacteria and odors emanating through your vents and filling the cabin when the ventilation system is active. The smell will likely worsen when the heater is turned on.

This will likely bring a strong musty smell to the interior, as well as potentially cause allergy symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, or congestion. 

Weak Airflow

Because the entirety of your cabin’s air is filtered through this one component, even small blockages can significantly disrupt the airflow of your vents. A lack of strong airflow can make hot and cold days particularly uncomfortable. 

A/C vents in BMW interior

Defrosting Issues

As your interior defrosters also use air that passes through the cabin air filter, a clogged filter can lead to problems defrosting or demisting your windshield. 

This can of course become an issue in cold temperatures where defrosting is necessary for proper visibility, leading to potentially dangerous circumstances. 

Interior of vehicle with frost on the windshield

How Often Should I Replace My Cabin Air Filter?

For how much impact it has on the comfort of you and your passengers while driving, the cabin air filter is a relatively cheap and easy replacement. While the exact lifespan of your filter depends on various factors, from the model of the vehicle to the area it’s being driven, we recommend owners change their cabin air filter between every 15,000-25,000 miles. 

As it’s such an inexpensive part and simple replacement, most cabin air filter replacements can be completed for between $20-$70 depending on the vehicle.

Cabin Air Filter Replacements in Summerlin, Las Vegas

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may require a new cabin air filter. Fortunately, the experienced technicians at Red Rock Repair in Summerlin can provide you with a quality replacement. Give us a call today to schedule with our friendly team!

Better Service Starts Here!

We know just how impotant it is to have a repair shop you can trust. Red Rock Repair offers a level of service you wont find anywhere else in Las Vegas!

DIRECTIONS (702) 385-7887

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