When Should You Replace Your Car AC Filter?

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

Your car AC filter is an area of the car that is often overlooked. Many people never replace the AC filter during the whole lifetime of the car.

How often should it be replaced? Is it a matter of weeks, months, or years? Is it decided by miles, instead? Does it affect my health to not bother replacing my AC filter?

Keep reading to find out when to replace your car cabin filter without wasting money.

When Should Your Car AC Filter Get Replaced?

Many companies have a warranty on their AC filters, such as AEM Intake, but should you wait for the end of the warranty period? Well, the OEM air filter might not be branded, to start with.

Instead of relying on a warranty period, it’s best to judge each filter replacement by signs your AC filter might be near the end of its life. What are the signs of a bad AC filter?

  • An unpleasant odor every time your turn on the AC or the heat
  • Excess humidity or moisture from your vents
  • Dust coming out of the vent
  • Your AC blower motor struggles
  • Your car’s horsepower drops while your AC is on

A dirty car AC filter, like a dirty filter in your home AC unit, causes extra wear and damage to your car’s climate control system. The AC filter is designed to trap and hold pollen, dust, mold spores, other pollutants. However, when it’s full, some of those find their way through.

It also traps moisture, which creates a perfect environment for mold to start growing. That becomes a health hazard and fogs your windows.

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When Do You Replace Cabin Filter?

Many car AC filters are replaced through your vehicle’s glovebox. Many luxury vehicles, though, have the car cabin filter behind the dashboard. If you are handy, you may be able to DIY the glovebox, but the dashboard can be another matter, depending on the make and model.

The typical answer to replacing your cabin filter is 15,000 to 30,000 miles. If you live in a particularly dusty area, such as most places in Arizona and Utah, it may get clogged sooner. Likewise, humid areas with a lot of plant life on the East Coast, or areas like Washington state, Louisiana, and some parts of Texas can fill your filter with pollen and mold ahead of schedule.

It’s a matter of time and miles. If you’re putting a lot of miles on your car, you’re also more likely to use the AC for the duration. Summer and Winter get the heaviest use with the strongest settings.

So you see, it’s a combination of when and how much you drive. To be on the safe side, many mechanics suggest a compromise of 25,000 miles. That equates to about once every five oil changes.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Now that you know when and why you should replace your car AC filter, you can take a deep, relaxing breath. The goal is to replace the AC filter not too soon that you’ll be wasting money, but not so long that you endure health risks and bad smells. By checking your user manual you can find out if you want to DIY it or let the mechanic handle it next time you take it in.

Want to know more automotive tips and tricks? Keep browsing our articles for the latest news about how to care for your car or truck!

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