Are Air Filters and Cabin Filters Different in Cars?

Air filters and cabin filters are often mistaken for one another due to their similar purpose of purifying the air in a car. However, these two types of filters have distinct functions that are essential for the performance and safety of your vehicle. In addition to the engine air filter, there is a second air filter in your car: the cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is designed similarly to the engine air filter, but it serves a different purpose. It is located at the mouth of the heater box to filter out dust, soot, pollen, and other environmental allergens that enter the passenger compartment.

This filter should be replaced regularly as it becomes clogged with particles and loses its effectiveness. Dirty cabin air filters not only reduce the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system, but they also allow allergens to enter your car's interior. In short, both air filters and cabin air filters are used to purify dirty air and only allow fresh air to enter. The engine air filter prevents dirt from entering the engine while the cabin air filter prevents allergens and pollutants from entering the cabin. The engine air filter protects engine components from wear and tear while the cabin air filter improves cabin air quality.

The cabin air filter is usually located behind the glove compartment, under the dashboard, or under the hood. Some vehicles have it installed inside the HVAC box between the fan motor and evaporator core. If you have allergies or live in an area with high levels of pollen or smoke, you may need to change your cabin air filter more often. The life expectancy of your engine depends on the quality of the air entering it. If this air is dirty, it can negatively affect your vehicle's performance.

The cabin air filter can also become clogged over time and needs to be replaced at certain intervals to maintain comfort levels within the cabin. When servicing your vehicle, you may be surprised if your mechanic tells you that you need to replace two air filters. The engine air filter cleans the air used by the engine during combustion while the cabin air filter prevents impurities from entering your car's interior. If both filters remain unobstructed and in good condition, only clean air will reach your engine. Now that you understand how engine air filters and cabin air filters work and differ, you can easily identify when they need to be replaced with help from a knowledgeable automotive technician. Your technician will check both filters for excessive debris and suggest a replacement as needed to keep your car running smoothly.