If you suffer from allergies like I do, odds are good you’ve been miserable this spring. The weather folks say some parts of the country are having a horrible allergy season. This info could be a big help to you.
The cabin air filter, a feature found on most late-model vehicles, cleans the air that comes into the interior through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It catches dust, pollen and other airborne material that can make riding in a car unpleasant, particularly if you have allergies or other respiratory problems.
Automakers are continually working on ways to improve cabin air quality. Ford is among them and recently started rolling out a new air filter, Ford Refresh95, that will become standard on most models in its lineup by the end of 2023.
New Ford Refresh95 vehicle air filter. Photo Credit: Ford.
Ford says the new filter can trap up to 99 percent of some allergens including common pollens and dust particles. (You won't have to necessarily buy a new Ford to get one either. The new filters will also be available for purchase for customers with a compatible Ford vehicle.)
When To Replace Your Air Filter
Recommendations on when your air filter should be replaced vary by manufacturer — some say every 12,000 or 15,000 miles, others longer — and how often can depend on how much you drive and where. Check the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. If you drive in heavy traffic in an urban area that has poor air quality, you could need to replace the filter annually or even more often. However, that also could be true in a desert climate where there is a lot of dust.
Some signs that you need a new cabin air filter are reduced airflow through your HVAC system, such as when you crank up the fan too high and you get more noise than results. Another is a persistent bad odor. Even if you don’t have these warnings, you should have the filter checked at least once a year, and you may be able to do that yourself.
Many cabin air filters are located behind the glove box and are easily accessible by freeing the glove box from its fasteners (instructions should be in the owner’s manual). Others are located under the dashboard and may not be easy to reach, or under the hood where fresh air enters the HVAC system. Some of these filters are expensive, as in $50 or more at dealerships, so you could save money by buying a replacement at a parts store and doing it yourself.
If a dealership service department or repair shop recommends you get a new cabin air filter, ask to see the current one. Depending on how long the filter has been in service, you might be shocked at what you see: leaves, twigs, insects, soot and grime that literally cover the entire surface that comes in contact with incoming air. You’ll know it’s time for a new cabin air filter.
Photo Credit: Ford.