Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Cabin Air Filter

Cabin Air Filter

The cabin air filter is the filter responsible for filtering the air that is fed into the vehicle’s heating and air conditioning systems. The filter traps dust, pollen, and other foreign particles, preventing them from entering the vehicle and polluting the cabin. Since they work in essentially the same fashion as a regular engine air filter, cabin air filters get dirty and should be replaced when they become excessively contaminated, or at the regular service interval recommended by the manufacturer. Usually a dirty cabin air filter will produce a few symptoms that can notify the driver that attention may be required.

Poor air flow

The most common symptom associated with a bad cabin air filter is poor air flow from the vehicle’s interior vents. An excessively contaminated cabin air filter will not be able to filter the incoming air as effectively as a clean filter would. As a result, this will cause restricted air flow for the AC system. Additionally, this will cause the vents to blow with noticeably less force, reducing the overall cooling capacity of the AC system, and will also place an additional strain on the AC blower motor.

Unusual odor from the vents

Another symptom of a bad or failing cabin air filter is an unusual odor coming from the vehicle’s interior vents. An excessively contaminated filter may produce a dusty, dirty, or musty smell. The smell may become more pronounced when the air is turned on, and may make the cabin uncomfortable for the passengers.

A cabin filter is a simple component that should be replaced when necessary to keep the AC system working as efficiently as possible, and to keep the cabin as comfortable as possible for the passengers. If you suspect that your cabin filter may be dirty, have the vehicle examined by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if your car is due for a cabin air filter replacement.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...
P0291OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 11 Injector Circuit Low
P0291 code definition When your vehicle’s PCM registers the P0291 code, it means that a voltage reading came from the fuel injector circuit – for cylinder number 11’s fuel injector –...
P0359 OBD-II Trouble Code: Ignition Coil I Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction
P0359 code definition The P0359 code indicates that a fault has been detected in one of the vehicle’s ignition coils, generally the number 9 coil. This code can also be associated...


Related questions

Q: Question about oil leak filter base

I think what you might be referring to is an oil filter adaptor that is leaking. The oil filter adaptor will bolt on to the engine block and the oil filter will screw on to the adaptor allowing the oil to...

Q: How Does an Oil Filter Function?

An oil filter is a long, rectangular paper element that is folded into numerous pleats. The two ends of the pleated element are sealed together and the filter placed around a perforated metal tube inside a filter can. The perforated...

Q: Air filter housing

If you are getting oil in the air filter housing, this is from the vapor line coming from your crankcase ventilation. The oil can be from a PCV valve that is clogged and in need of replacement. The valve relieves...