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What Is A Cabin Air Filter And Why Is It Important?

If you've ever wondered how the air coming into your Ford's cabin is so clean compared to the air outside, it's because your vehicle has a cabin air filter. Read on to learn what a cabin air filter is and why it's important to replace it when it gets too dirty.

What Does a Cabin Air Filter Look Like?

Cabin filter

Image Credit: PaulsTravelPictures

A cabin air filter is a simple rectangular pleated filter. Its size depends on the design of the dashboard and the cabin. Its location also depends on the vehicle. For example, the cabin air filter in a 2013-2017 Ford Escape can be accessed from under the glove compartment, while in a 2015-2017 F-150, it's situated right behind the glove compartment.

How Does a Cabin Air Filter Work?

A cabin air filter prevents dirt, dust, pollen, and other pollutants from entering your Ford's cabin via the vents. Situated within the car's HVAC system, the cabin filter traps all the pollutants before the air makes it into the cabin.

Most modern cars have a constant flow of fresh air into the cabin. There's a large duct at the front of the car that allows the air to come in from outside. The air is usually cooled or heated before making it through the filter and then into the cabin.

What Happens When a Cabin Filter Gets Too Dirty?

When your cabin air filter gets too contaminated with pollutants, it loses the ability to send clean air into the cabin. You'll experience the following issues:

  • Reduced airflow into the cabin via the A/C and heat vents
  • Persistent bad odors (such as the smell of stale french fries)
  • Outside smells entering the vehicle even if all of your windows are closed
  • Increased allergy or respiratory reactions (if you have airborne allergies or respiratory problems)

If you notice any of these symptoms, then the next step is to check the cabin air filter to see if it has any life left.

How Often Does a Cabin Air Filter Need to be Replaced?

Ford recommends replacing your cabin air filter every 15K-20K miles. A good rule of thumb is to check your air filter once a year. You might need to replace your air filter more often, though, if you:

  • Have airborne allergies or respiratory problems
  • Frequently drive on dirt roads
  • Live in a rural, dusty, or heavily polluted area

Can I Replace a Cabin Air Filter Myself?

If you know where the cabin air filter is located in your Ford, and if you have the tools to access it, there's no reason why you shouldn't replace it yourself. It's a really easy task that doesn't require any special knowledge or expertise. Even if you're not sure what to do, there are many model-specific tutorials online for you to choose from. If you own a 2013-2017 Escape, here's a good tutorial to follow.

Cabin air filters are inexpensive, but you can still save some money if you order genuine OEM cabin air filters from us. We offer wholesale prices for all OEM Ford parts, including cabin air filters. Here's our catalog of cabin air filters. Do a search on your Ford model and see if we have a cabin air filter waiting for you!