Smell That? Learn What Happens If Your Cabin Air Filter is Dirty

  • Oct 26,2020
woman sitting in car holding her nose woman sitting in car holding her nose

Your cabin air filter is vital in keeping the air in your vehicle fresh. But when it inevitably becomes gunked up with dirt, debris, and other contaminants, the air in your car might not feel or smell so fresh.

And a musty smell inside your car isn't the only potential problem that may arise from an old cabin air filter. There are a couple of crucial reasons you need to make a cabin air filter replacement one of your top car-care maintenance priorities! Here's what happens if your cabin air filter is dirty and what you should do about it.

Why A Cabin Air Filter Is Important

Paying attention to what’s going on inside the cabin is essential. Is the heater working well? How about the A/C? Is the driving experience comfortable or a little smelly and stuffy?

If you’re dealing with the smelly and stuffy scenario, it's time to check your vehicle's cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is somewhat of an unsung hero in the automobile world. It juggles a lot of responsibilities, including:

  • Helping clear the air inside the cabin of bacteria, dust, and other pollutants.
  • Helping eliminate odors within the vehicle’s HVAC system.
  • Helping ensure adequate airflow for defrosting and defogging — because poor visibility through your car windows can create serious driving issues.

If you've never changed the cabin air filter in your vehicle, you may notice one or more of these symptoms. Check your owner's manual to locate your vehicle's cabin air filter to check if it's time to be changed. Alternatively, bring your car into a Firestone Complete Auto Care near you to have a professional technician ensure your cabin air filter is fresh and clean.

What Happens When A Cabin Air Filter Gets Dirty?

A cabin air filter clogged with debris can cause the air system’s blower motor — which pushes air through the car’s vents — to malfunction, partially or entirely. Fortunately, there are several dirty cabin air filter symptoms that can alert you to a problem before the situation reaches that point. Such symptoms include:

  • Unpleasant, sometimes musty smells
  • Visible debris entering the cabin
  • Ineffective or less effective heating, cooling, defrosting, or defogging
  • Increased noise from an overtaxed blower motor

Replacing your cabin air filter may seem simple, but it's a rapidly growing component of manufacturer scheduled maintenance services, as it can be a simple way to ensure your vehicle is performing like it should.

How often you need to change the cabin air filter may depend on a few different factors. A general rule of thumb is approximately every 12 months or 12,000 miles, unless otherwise indicated by your owner’s manual. But depending on your driving conditions, it may be a better idea to change the filter more frequently due to increased contact with common pollutants like dirt and pollen.

Breathe Easy with Firestone Complete Auto Care

Driving with a dirty cabin air filter doesn't just make your driving experience uncomfortable; it can also be a burden on your vehicle! If it's time to change your cabin air filter, visit a Firestone Complete Auto Care for professional, quality air filter replacement.

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