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Don't Forget To Do This Critical Maintenance On Your Subaru Before Summer

Why is it essential for Subaru owners to change their car's cabin air filter before the summer driving season? Check out why it's a must for adventurous Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek owners.

Have you noticed your Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and other models' heater or A/C fan not blowing as well as when it was new? It's likely because your cabin air filter is plugged with debris and needs to be changed. It's easy to overlook because replacing your car's cabin air filter (CAF) isn't even on your radar in your regular vehicle maintenance, but it should be.

Most car manufacturers now include a cabin filter in their vehicles (since 2000). Car owners usually replace the oil and air filter regularly, but the CAF is a forgotten item. It's even more critical for adventurous Subaru owners to change it right before your summer road trips. You want the max air flowing from your A/C unit.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Subaru of America

Automotive experts say the cabin air filter plays a vital role in filtering pollutants from entering the vehicle's cabin. It's even more critical for Subaru owners who take their car off-road into the high country this summer.

Typically located behind the glove compartment, the CAF filters all of the air through the car's heating and air conditioning system to keep pollutants, such as dust, pollen, and mold spores, from entering your car's cabin. The filters can also catch rodent droppings, leaves, and other debris leftover from winter.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Subaru of America via @scott_kranz

When should you replace your Subaru cabin filter?

Many Subaru owners take their cars off-road this summer, where there's even more dust, pollen from trees, and insects. Safelite says if you have allergies, it's essential to change your cabin air filter often. An article by Your Mechanic says the best time to check your CAF is right now, before the summer driving season.

Subaru says you should replace the cabin air filter every 12,000 miles. You should check your owner manual, but once a year is a reasonable interval, especially if you travel on dusty roads or regularly drive in busy cities with poor air quality.

Can you clean or replace it yourself?

Many CAFs are located behind the glove box, and it needs to be removed to access it. If you are more mechanically inclined, you can probably figure it out. Or you can watch it on YouTube and get detailed instructions for your vehicle model and year Subaru. If it's not too dirty, you can vacuum or clean it with a cloth, getting more use from the filter. The filter is usable as long as the filtering material can still remove dirt and debris from the air.

With so many Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek owners using their all-wheel-drive vehicles for off-road and backcountry adventures this summer, it's even more important to change your cabin air filter now before driving on dusty trails and bringing tree pollen into the car's HVAC system.

Check out the video below. It's for a Subaru Outback, but it applies to all vehicles.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru of America