Engine Air Filter vs. Cabin Air Filter: What's the Difference?

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High-quality air is crucial for both your body and your car’s engine. That’s why you’ll find air filters in the engine compartment and the vehicle’s cabin. Learn more about engine air filters vs. cabin air filters and how to care for them here.

Air Filter Change

Engine Air Filter

An engine air filter is located inside the engine compartment. This filter ensures the air your engine takes in is free from dirt and particles that can compromise the engine’s efficiency and damage internal components. You’ll find the engine air filter inside a box, and it’s usually easy to locate the box and replace the filter.

When an engine air filter gets clogged or wears out, you might notice a drop in fuel efficiency and horsepower. The check engine light may also alert you that the vehicle isn’t getting enough clean air to run well.

Cabin Air Filter

A cabin air filter is part of the car’s heating and cooling unit—just like the air filter on your home’s heating and cooling. You’ll find this filter in or behind the glove compartment, where it filters bugs, tiny dirt particles, pollen, and other air pollutants before air circulates in the car’s cabin. The cabin air filter allows you to breathe fresh air by controlling allergens and unpleasant side effects of common air problems.

When a cabin air filter is past its life, it can affect the heating and cooling system efficiency and leave the car smelling musty.

Engine Filter vs. Cabin Filter Maintenance

Your owner’s manual is the best place for general information about when and how to change each air filter type. Generally, both filters must be changed if there’s evidence of visible mold or mildew or if the filter is heavily coated in dirt and debris.

Each filter type has its own vehicle specifications. Ensure you’re using the proper filter for your car or truck. Cabin filter options might include oil-coated, washable, and even HEPA filters.

For an engine filter, locate the air cleaner housing, remove the screws or clips holding it in place, then swap out the filter. You can expect to change this filter yearly, although the changeout schedule depends on your regular driving habits. Engine air filters generally cost between $20-$80.

To change a cabin filter, refer to the vehicle’s manual to determine its location and the best way to access it. A cabin filter can last up to two years before it must be changed. If you live in an area with heavy air pollution, you may need to address this more frequently. The price of a cabin air filter can vary greatly. Some models may be less than $20. Others can be up to $100.

Maintaining the cabin and engine air filters helps keep you healthy and allows your engine to work much more efficiently. A good engine air filter can help avoid costly repairs by keeping dirt and contaminants out of the engine. A good cabin air filter ensures your travels are comfortable and easy on the lungs.

Breathe Easy When You Visit Take 5 Oil Change

Changing an air filter can be simple but easy to overlook. Count on the skilled technicians at Take 5 Oil Change to keep on top of these extra services for you. Our fast and friendly staff will inspect the engine and cabin air filters at each oil change visit and advise you on their condition. It’s quick and convenient to let us change your air filters during an oil change visit.

Let Take 5 Oil Change take the guesswork out of your car’s air filter maintenance when you use our oil change services. Just visit a location near you for professional air filter inspection and replacements.

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