by Lori Straus
Although winter is nice for allergy sufferers—no pollens to contend with—it does come with a negative for everyone: as the temperatures outside drop, a car’s engine produces more particulates, which could affect your cabin air after the season. In this blog post, we’ll explain what that means and why spring is a good time to change your cabin air filter.
Why Do You Need a Cabin Air Filter?
Your vehicle’s HVAC system pulls air in from outside the vehicle. Plus there’s the air exchange that happens every time you open doors and windows. To help keep the air clean, it gets passed through a cabin air filter, where it removes dust, pollens, dirt, bacteria, and exhaust gases from the air.
What’s in Your Cabin Air Filter During the Year?
By the end of the fall, your air filter has collected a good deal of dirt, dust, and pollen from outside. When you replace your cabin air filter, you may even notice larger objects like leaves and twigs caught in its folds. It happens.
But filters don’t just keep out the things you can see; they also protect you from particulate matter (PM), which is so small that the naked eye can’t detect it. These nasties can aggravate your lungs and, over time, cause serious health conditions.
However, in 2010, a study in Kansas City reported that as temperatures dropped outside, tailpipe emissions increased. The study says, “In general, PM emissions doubled for every 20 degrees F drop in ambient temperature, which these increases independent of vehicle model year.” (That’s about 6.5 degrees Celsius.)
Because your cabin filter helps keep PM out, changing it in the spring is a good way to keep the air in your cabin clean before the filter starts to deteriorate and let through what it has caught.
Buy a Replacement Filter
Like home furnaces and air conditioners, different makes and models of cars require different filters. Check your owner’s manual on specifications for your filter. If you walk into an auto parts store and ask for a cabin air filter “for my Dodge,” the associate behind the counter won’t be able to help you. Make sure you have the make, model, and year handy.
But also consider what kind of air filter you want: electrostatic, activated carbon, charcoal, or particulate. Each one comes with pros and cons, so a quick read will catch you up to speed.
You Can Replace Your Cabin Air Filter Yourself
This is truly a DIY procedure, and we’ve outlined it for you already. Replacing your cabin air filter in the spring not only improves the air quality in your vehicle, but it gives you a fresh start for collecting all the pollen and construction dust that is sure to find its way into your vehicle as flowers bloom and construction season begins.