How to Change a Cabin Air Filter

How Often Should You Change Your Car Cabin Air Filter?

A car cabin air filter shields you from all sorts of debris and pollutants that you don’t want to get into your car, but by filtering all of that stuff out of the car’s cabin, it all gets trapped in the filter and, after a while, that filter will need to be replaced. How often should you replace the filter? You can consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions, but it’s generally considered industry standard to replace every 12,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. 

How to Change Your Cabin Air Filter

The following instructions are accurate for almost all vehicles, though if you have a foreign or luxury car you may want to check your owner’s manual to see if the car cabin air filter is in a different place. Some large trucks may also have the car cabin air filter in a different place. But this is accurate for 90% of vehicles.

  1. Remove Glove Box Pin

    The first thing you need to do is open your glove box and empty it of all its contents. There is a pin on the outside edge of the glove box. You can either move the pin by hand (or in some cases use a screwdriver to remove it). Then slip the pin out of place. Your car may have an additional band holding the glove box in place, which you’ll need to release.

  2. Lower Glove Box

    You can now lower the glove box by pressing in on both sides of the box. Behind the box will be a black panel which covers the cabin air filter. The glove box won’t lower all the way into the footwell--there’s a limited amount of slack on its hinges, so don’t force it.

  3. Remove Old Filter

    The panel is held in place by either tabs or pins, which are generally released by squeezing them inward. This removes the cover and once the cover is removed you can pull out the old filter.

  4. Clean the Filter Housing

    The old filter will likely be very dirty, and while you’re doing a cabin filter replacement, it’s a good idea to get a vacuum into that housing to clear out any debris and dust that has already built up in and around the old filter. You want to give your new filter the longest life possible, so cleaning out the housing will be the first step toward clean cabin air.

  5. Slide in the New Filter

    When you are prepared for your cabin filter replacement, you will find there will be an arrow on your filter showing the air flow direction. Checking that, you can then push the filter into place properly. Once it’s in place, replace the cover and snap it into place.

  6. Re-Attached the Glove Box

    You can now lift your glove box back up and secure it by sliding the pin back into place (and the additional harness if it has one). Then close the box and you’re all finished. The entire operation should take less than ten minutes if you’re new to it, and even less time if you’ve done it once or twice.

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