What is the Cabin Air Filter Change Interval? – I Saved $120 (Step-by-Step w/Engine Filter too)

My wife’s vehicle was stuck in overdrive so I brought it to the dealer. Since it was still under warranty they fixed it and claimed it saved me about $2200 since it was covered. I was so glad it was under warranty!  That was luck, plus they mentioned the cabin air filter change interval was needed.  What is that?

While fixing the vehicle, the service representative said he and the mechanic wanted me to see the vehicle. When I got there, the mechanic had the vehicle’s engine filter sitting under the open hood and the cabin filter sitting on the seat. He suggested I replace both the cabin air filter and engine air filter for a total cost of around $160. Really, for two car air filters? I tried to keep my poker face on, but my jaw was probably hanging down.

I asked how often to change cabin air filter and engine filter?  He said most manufacturers recommend every 15,000 to 25,000 miles on a typical vehicle.  Ooops, I was at 60,000.  I asked if I can “think about it” and come back if I change my mind.

Some people will cringe to know, I didn’t even know the car had two replaceable air filters. I basically know how to use GasBuddy to find and pump the cheapest gas near me. That’s basically the extent to my car knowledge for beginners.

I wasn’t sure how often to replace cabin air filter. What is the cabin air filter change interval?  What is the engine air filter change interval?  But I must admit, they both did look dirty and gross. Then I briefly went through the stages of shaming. How can I let my kids breath air from those disgusting filters 60,000 miles later?  Here’s a photo of my dirty cabin air filter.  Yuck!

Dirty cabin air filter with a feather stuck in it

When I got home, I first watched a video on how to change engine air filter.
[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuAH8lpgDrk” showinfo=”no” rel=”no” modestbranding=”yes”]

Then I watched a video on how to change a cabin air filter.
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3KBG0NABjM”]

Based on what I saw at the car dealership and after watching these videos, I should be able to do that.

How much does a cabin air filter cost? How much does an engine air filter cost?

I went to Amazon. On Amazon, I did a cabin air filter lookup and also an engine air filter lookup. In my case, both air filters combined cost less than $40. Wow, that’s $120 less than the dealership. Two days later both the cabin air filter and the engine air filter arrived at my house with Amazon Prime.

How to replace engine air filter?

  1. Wait Until Your Car Cools Down. Though it’s not mentioned much in the videos, I would feel safer fumbling around a cool engine compartment. I’m not an experienced mechanic so I’m not sure what’s hot or temperamental.
  2. Open the hood and locate the engine air filter box. The box will vary by model, but generally, it’s a black plastic box sitting either on the side or top.
  3. Unclasp the box. The engine filter box tends to have four large clasps securing the cover.
  4. Remove the old engine air filter. It’s usually obvious if the filter is clean or dirty.
  5. Place the new engine air filter in the box. It should securely fit in the box.
  6. Close the box and re-clasp. Four easy snap-on clasps and you’re done.
New cabin air filter vs dirty cabin air filter. It’s obvious!

How long does it take to replace an engine air filter?

It only takes a couple minutes to replace an engine air filter. That was quick and easy! Not bad for a DIY auto repair.

Engine air filter black box with clasps
Engine air filter black box with clasps

What is the engine air filter purpose?

The engine air filter purpose is to prevent debris and dirt from entering your vehicle engine. A dirty engine air filter will decrease the airflow to the engine and can affect your vehicle performance. A dirty filter will strain your engine and reduce your gas mileage.

How often to change engine air filter?

Most car manufacturers suggest how often to change engine air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. A dirty engine filter could cause misfiring of your engine, unusual sounds, reduced gas mileage, service engine light, and reduce horsepower. It’s best to advise your owner’s manual to find out the engine air filter change interval for your specific car.

How to replace cabin air filter?

  1. Remove contents from the glove box. It’s a good chance to clean out your glove box.
  2. Release the arm or wires holding the glove box in place. Each vehicle will have a different latch system.
  3. Remove the dirty cabin air filter. In my case, there were two clasps holding the cabin air filter in place.
  4. Clean air filter slot. Look and feel around the open slot for any additional debris from the dirty cabin filter.
  5. Install the new air filter. Insert the new cabin air filter the same direction and with the arrows points the same direction as the dirty filter. Clip on the plastic cover.
  6. Reattach the glove box.
New clean cabin air filter vs old dirty cabin air filter. It obviously needs to be replaced.

How long does it take to replace a cabin air filter?

It takes about five minutes to replace a cabin air filter. It takes longer than the engine air filter because not all air filters and glove boxes are designed the same.

Cabin air filter slot behind the glove box.  Protective plastic cover is removed.
Cabin air filter slot behind the glove box. Protective plastic cover is removed.

What is the cabin air filter purpose?

The cabin air filter purpose is to prevent dust, dirt, smog, mold spores, pollen, and other contaminants from entering the cabin of your vehicle though the heat and air conditioning vents. Cabin air filters didn’t become a norm until around 2000. Replacing the cabin air filter regularly helps people with severe allergies in areas with lots of trees. A dirty filter also puts undue stress on the motor and reduces its lifespan.

Read your automobile user guide to find out what is the engine air filter change interval.

Why I Buy Certified Pre-Owned Luxury Cars

My wife and I purchase pre-owned certified vehicles. When we take possession, they usually have 35,000 miles and are 3+ years old. In my estimation, we usually save 40-45% off the dealers original invoice. The certification generally covers repairs for 3 additional years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. What this also means, is that vehicle maintenance comes up sooner on a used car vs a new car.