Our cars are one of the places where we spend the most time, especially if you have a long commute every day. But what if the place you spend all that time, enjoying the radio and weaving in and out of traffic, is actually contributing to or causing your spring allergies? Even more alarming, if you’re not practicing basic annual maintenance on your car, it could be making them worse.
Replacing your car’s cabin air filter is a basic maintenance activity, but it can be one that many overlook. Trust us, your mechanic isn’t recommending you change it just to scam you! The cabin air filter cleans the air that comes into the car and removes allergens like pollen, bacteria, dust and even exhaust gases. It also keeps leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the heating and cooling system, which can cause major damage to your car over time.
If your cabin air filter is dirty or clogged it can make you feel sick, or possibly cause headaches or allergies to be worse. That’s because if the air filter isn’t able to work properly, it will let musty odors and contaminants like pollen and dust into the air cabin. The cabin of a car, even large SUVs, is quite small compared to other spaces, which makes the musty odors and allergens more concentrated. This means that with a clogged or dirty air filter, you may breathe in more fumes and particles than any other space. Those with allergies may notice their symptoms to be worse and even if you don’t typically suffer from allergies, you could notice symptoms.
In addition, a cabin air filter that is clogged can actually cause your air conditioning and cooling system to not work properly, and can cause damage to the HVAC system over time. Luckily, there’s a quick and typically affordable maintenance activity that can eliminate these problems. It’s the simple task of replacing the air filter, which can easily be done by yourself or by a trained mechanic.
According to the Car Care Council, a cabin air filter should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or according to your specific vehicles owner’s manual. It’s typical to replace it every year, and springtime is a great time to do it, because your heating system has probably been working hard all winter long and in the spring, there’s a lot of pollen in the air that needs to be filtered out. If you have severe allergies and notice that they are acting up when you’re in the car, or typically drive in an urban area with a lot of air pollution, you may want to change your cabin air filter more frequently.
One easy way to determine if it’s time to change the cabin air filter is to simply look at the current one. You may be surprised to see leaves, twigs and even bugs among the dust and grime on the filter. A dirty or clogged air filter is easy to see, and you’ll know when it’s time to replace it.