My car smells strange inside. Can I change the cabin filter on my car myself?

cabin filter

Your car has vents in the cabin that pull air in from the outside. But before it comes out of the vents, that air goes through a filter. This is known as a cabin filter and is designed to prevent impurities and bits of dust, dirt, pollen and other tiny airborne impurities being blown into the car’s cockpit. Newer more sophisticated cars will have filters that remove odours as the air passes through them.

Is it possible to change the cabin filter yourself?

This can be a DIY job but first you need to find where the filter is. In some cars they are located in the engine bay, in others they are behind the glove box and you access them from the cockpit. The best way to find where the filter is positioned is to look in the car’s user manual.

This may tell you that changing the cabin’s air filter is a job for a professional. In some cars, it is because accessing them is a challenge. But in others, it’s entirely possible to do it yourself.

Where do you get cabin filters from?

Before you invest in the part and get too far down the road of doing it yourself, why not search the internet for an advice film? There’s bound to be one on YouTube and it’ll show you how easy or otherwise actually doing the job is on your car. Perhaps more crucially, it should show you the kind of tools you might need.

Finding and buying the part is simply a case of searching the internet. We would always advise you to buy an original equipment part. It might be more expensive than a pattern part but if you’re doing the job yourself you want to be sure the part will fit and an original or genuine part will be guaranteed to.

Tips for changing a filter

Have your phone handy. That’s for two reasons. You can have a film showing you how to do the job loaded and ready to go, should you need any advice. You should also take pictures as you go along. This is to remind you how to put things back together.

When you take out the old filter, pay attention to the direction of any arrows. These will demonstrate which way you need to put the new filter back into the car. The whole job should take you about half an hour.

cabin filter

How frequently do they need changing?

This is the kind of job that a service takes care of. Your car’s user manual should tell you how frequently the filter needs changing. They usually recommend you do it every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

What is a cabin filter made from?

These vary depending on the car. The filters might be made of paper – similar to the sort you find in a coffee machine – or they may be made from cotton. Others have a carbon component in them to absorb smells. The most common use pleated paper and they sit within a frame.

Why do they need changing?

Filters are designed to catch debris. That means over time dirt will clog them up and they will be less effective. The result might see hay fever sufferers experience worsening symptoms or the air that’s coming into the car start to smell.