When the auto tech says you need to replace your cabin air filter, you should listen. In your normal vehicle maintenance, replacing your car’s cabin air filter (CAF) probably isn’t high on your list, but it should be. You may not even know you have one on your Subaru. Car owners usually replace the oil and air filter at regular intervals, but the CAF is a forgotten item. It’s even more important for adventurous Subaru owners to change it now, right before winter hits.
The video below is about a 2018 Subaru Outback, but it applies to all vehicles. Most car manufactures include one in their vehicles (since 2000). Why is it so important to replace now? Automotive experts say the cabin air filter plays an important role in filtering pollutants from entering the vehicle’s cabin. It's even more important for Subaru owners who take their vehicle off-road.
Typically located behind the glove compartment, the CAF filters all of the air that comes 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 that can cause problems.
Many Subaru owners take their cars off-road into the high country were there’s even more dust, pollen from trees and insects. Safelite says if you have allergies, it’s especially important to change you cabin air filter often. An article by Your Mechanic says the best time to check your CAF is right now, before winter sets in because your vehicle has seen the worst of the pollen season.
When should you replace it?
Most automakers say you should replace the cabin air filter every 12,000 to 25,000 miles. You should check you owners manual, but once a year is a good interval, especially if you travel on dusty roads or drive regularly in busy cities with poor air quality. Subaru says change it every 12,000 miles on your 2018 Subaru Outback, but it may need to be replaced more often.
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 just Google it, and you can get detailed instructions for your vehicle. If it’s not too dirty, you can vacuum or clean it with a cloth, giving you more use out of the filter. As long as the filtering material can still remove dirt and debris from the air, the filter is usable.
With so many Subaru owners using their vehicle for off-road and backcountry adventures this summer and fall, it’s even more important to change your multi-purposed Subaru Outback, Forester, WRX/STI and Crosstrek's cabin air filter now after driving on dusty trails, and bringing tree pollen into the cars HVAC system.
Watch Cabin Air Filter - Shortened Service video
Photo credit: Subaru