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Never Let Your Dealer Change Your Vehicle’s Cabin Air Filter - Here's Why

Among the many ways your vehicle’s service costs are inflated is a small filter with a big bill from your dealer. Here’s why you should take back that task and save a bundle.


There are many things a shade tree mechanic can do to maintain his or her own vehicle. Most of which involve tools, knowledge, and hard work. But what if you could save yourself $70 per year on vehicle maintenance costs in three minutes and never touch a tool? We know one way, and we want you to stop being ripped off.

Let’s face it; You don’t want to change your own oil. It’s a pain in the neck. Just getting rid of the old oil requires a special trip. You may not have the strength or tools to rotate tires. Brakes are not that complicated, but get it wrong and how will you even drive to the shop for help? Plus, more hazardous waste when you bleed them or replace the fluid. These are tasks that your local mechanic can do for much less than your dealer charges.

Related Story: 30K Service Rip-Off - Why A Mazda CX-5’s 30K Service Can Cost Half What A similar Crossover’s Does

However, one task you can do is so simple that you can do it without any tools, and with no need for any mechanical aptitude. Change your vehicle’s cabin air filter.

Cabin air filter image by John Goreham

Dealers charge as much as $79 (before tax) to change this item. You can buy it on Amazon for around $10. To change it, you simple follow the instructions in your owner’s manual. Generally, well-engineered vehicles have the cabin air filter located just behind the glove box. To access it, you simply drop the box down by pressing a tab on each side and pull out the old filter. You then slide in the new one. Done. How in the world do dealers get away with charging so much for this work?

Here is the best part. Let’s say that you for some unexpected reason run into trouble. All you need to do is ask any mechanic to show you where you went wrong. The car still operates just fine with the glove box open and the filter on the floor. How bad could you possibly mess up?

And Amazon will help you ensure the filter you buy fits your exact vehicle. Simply tell the site the vehicle info and it verifies your selection is accurate. Then buy it.

The price poster image we took above is from a local Boston-area dealership of a popular brand. By our calculation, the dealer is stinging you $70 for under 3 minutes of work. You work hard. Keep your money. Change this filter yourself. Tell us in the comments below how it goes.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Hover mouse over image to see photo credits.


Herb Matthews (not verified)    February 5, 2021 - 6:20PM

What should be the cost to change cabin air filter for a 2013 Lincoln MKZ which involves removing a side panel, 2 bolts, lower the glove box.remove 2 screw for filter door & the.R & R the filter.

Dennis Swanson (not verified)    March 5, 2021 - 3:05PM

In reply to by Herb Matthews (not verified)

The Dealet will probably charge you about 80.oo parts and labor I just changed my cabin filter my self in my 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid .the filter cost mr 20.00.i replaced it in 20 minutes

Dennis Swanson (not verified)    March 5, 2021 - 3:15PM

In reply to by Herb Matthews (not verified)

Probably around 80.00 for parts and labor.I just replaced my own In my 2010 Honda Civic hybrid
20.00 for the filter and 10 minutes of my time
It's easy to replace
You can do it

Mr.George Landry (not verified)    February 10, 2021 - 6:56PM

Good Day,

I’m  George Landry. I will like to make an inquiry on Air Filters. Below is the type of Air Filters I want to order:

Panel Air Filters
Size : 24 x 24
Thickness: 2 
General Purpose
MERV 5 -8

I want you to go ahead and quote me the total pick up prices plus tax and also advise me on the method of payment you do accept. Awaiting your response


Paul Stabin (not verified)    December 30, 2021 - 8:32PM

At $23 for an OEM filter on an '18 Civic Type R and a few minutes of my time. I avoided an $ 80 dealer charge.No brainer. You Tube videos are out there if you get stuck.

Kelly Taylor (not verified)    January 6, 2022 - 7:34PM

Gary Crossley Ford in Liberty, Mo just charged me $250.00 to change my cabin filter! When it was a manufactures defect in the heat trap door to begin with! I have no issue paying for the new cabin filter! But since i am a female they are taking full advantage of me! What can be done?

Grahame Leonar… (not verified)    January 21, 2022 - 12:16AM

I own a 1999 Toyota Spacia, petrol 2.2l, automatic. I can’t find the air conditioner filter; I’ve removed the glovebox but to no avail.
Can you help me locate this thing plz.
I’m in Brisbane,Q, Australia.
Much obliged

Doreen S. (not verified)    May 1, 2022 - 12:05PM

First time replacing cabin filter in my Kia Sportage. It took me 10 min, but now that I’m familiar with the process, next time should be under 5 min. I got filter for 15.00 and my mechanic charges 50.00. So easy and I’ll always do it myself instead of paying any place for a 5 minute job.

David C. (not verified)    August 24, 2022 - 10:56AM

2015 Jeep Renegade - $79 would be a deal to replace the cabin filter. The entire glove box has to be completely removed, in addition to the dash side panel to get to the filter. It is a total pain in the rear.

Erin (not verified)    September 21, 2022 - 8:00AM

Actually if you take your car for normal maintenance…. They already charge you for it and claim they do it. I have 40k on my F150 and went in a car wash and immediately smelled funk. I thought wow maybe I should see if they actually changed my filter. I looked and I can not describe the level of junk on that filter!!! Then I checked my ford maintenance schedule. Not only was I charged every 20k to do it…. But they were supposed to have done it 3 weeks ago when I took it in!!! Change it yourself or no one will! I checked my wife’s, mothers, sisters, and grandmas car all were the same and were taken to different dealers and mechanics.