What is the Pollen or Cabin Air Filter?
This filter cleans the air that enters your car. It can remove dust and pollen from the air before it enters the cabin of your car. Think of it just like the filter that you have for your home heat and A/C system.
Why is it important?
In the grand scheme of car performance, it is not very important. Many cars don't even have a pollen filter. So you need to make sure your car has a filter before letting a mechanic replace it. ;) The pollen filter is more of a comfort filter. Imagine driving through a dust storm with out something to filter the air coming into the car. That dust could just come right on in.Or, if you live in the southern USA imagine all the pollen that would be coming in the car if you did not have a filter.
Like I said, this filter is NOT a critical system of your car. Having a dirty pollen filter will not leave you stranded. It will not cause your vehicle not to perform properly. It is there specifically to add to your comfort while you drive. And that can be pretty dang important.
How do I know if I need a new cabin or pollen filter?
Inspecting a pollen filter is just like looking at any other filter. It can be really easy to tell if it needs to be replaced. Heck, removing the filter will be the hardest part.
Follow the owners book.
This will give you a good idea of the average life of a pollen filter. Replacing it every 20,000 miles seems to be a common standard. Check your book and see.
This is a great way to check your filter. If you can remove it, give it a good look over. Look between the ribs of the filter and check for dirt or other debris. Also make sure it is not wet. You may have bigger issues if your pollen filter is wet.
This reminds me of someone that would say "Hey, smell this, it's awful" and then you smell it. And it is awful. Giving a filter a sniff test is the last test. Just be careful, you don't really want a face full of stink.
Do you REALLY need a new filter?
Just like any filter, it really depends. If your owners book says replace it, just replace it. If you inspect the filter and are not sure, just replace it. Pollen filters are not that expensive. If the filter is in bad shape, you can attempt to clean it, but I have not really seen that work. Pollen filters are also a great first DIY. There is very little risk of doing it wrong on most cars.
Syndicated from "The Humble Mechanic"