Have you ever noticed that your seasonal allergy symptoms reduce when you’re in your car?
Well, you have your cabin air filter to thank for that!
In this piece, we’re going to take a look at how these unsung heroes work. We’ll also tell you how they benefit allergy sufferers, when to replace them, and some other handy tips for keeping your car allergy-free.
How Does A Cabin Air Filter Work?
A cabin air filter (also known as a pollen air filter or pollen filter) is usually hidden away behind the glove box of your car. As air passes through the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system, the cabin filter removes pollutants such as pollen to make sure you breathe clean air as you drive.
The filters are often made of paper-based, multifibre cotton that traps pollen particles and other pollutants. However, there are several other materials that are also commonly used to create pollen filters.
Some of the most effective pollen filters are made with activated carbon. This makes for a powerful pollen filter that can trap up to 95% of particles.
It’s important to note that, while the majority of newer cars in the UK have cabin filters, not all of them do. If you’re unsure whether or not your vehicle has a cabin filter, you can find out by checking the vehicle’s manual.
How Do Cabin Air Filters Help Allergy Sufferers?
Poor air quality when driving isn’t good for anyone but it’s particularly bad for people who suffer from allergies. In fact, it’s estimated that the air inside your car is filled with five times more allergens than the air outside of your car.
When you consider that around 540,000 litres of air flow into your vehicle every hour – that’s a lot of particulates you could be inhaling!
Luckily, your pollen air filter acts as a strong line of defence between you and the micro-organisms contained in pollen that cause allergy symptoms. It removes the tiny particulates that cause you so much grief during hay fever season.
Cabin air filters aren’t just effective pollen filters though. They’re also great at cleaning dirty air before it enters the interior of your car. They filter out dust, dirt, exhaust gases, and other pollutants. This is particularly good for people with asthma or other respiratory problems.
Do Cabin Air Filters Need To Be Replaced?
As your cabin air filter is filtering out so many particles on an hourly basis, it’ll come as no surprise that it needs to be replaced fairly regularly.
If the air filter becomes clogged and dirty, it loses its effectiveness as a pollen filter. This means that pollutants are free to enter your vehicle and those pesky allergic reactions won’t be kept at bay.
Plus, a clogged air filter can lead to a reduction in the efficiency of your car’s HVAC system. This results in a loss of airflow through your air conditioning system – making your car feel stuffy and uncomfortable.
So, how do you know when it’s time for it to be replaced?
Well, cabin filter replacements are often carried out as part of your regular car servicing.
Still, there are some telltale signs that your pollen filter needs replacing that you can look out for:
- There are unpleasant smells in your cabin.
- There are strange noises coming from the area where your pollen filter is located.
- There is poor airflow inside your vehicle.
- Your car’s windows are regularly fogging up and it’s hard to clear them.
If you notice any of these things, then book your car in for a service and have your air filter changed if necessary. You may even want to schedule an annual air filter replacement for February – just before pollen season kicks in!
Extra Steps To Alleviate Allergy Symptoms
Although your car’s pollen filter is excellent at removing particles from the air, there are still other steps you can take to make your car as allergy-free as possible.
- regularly vacuuming your car’s upholstery, mats, and carpeted floors;
- cleaning up any spills quickly to prevent mould growth;
- frequently wiping down the steering wheel, door panels, dashboard, handles, console, and gearstick with high-quality cleaning products; and
- checking the weather-stripping of the windows and doors is properly sealed.
No, an engine air filter is different to a cabin air filter. While a cabin filter cleans the air that enters the cabin of your car, an engine air filter prevents dirt from getting into the engine.
Yes, as well as preventing pollutants from entering the cabin of your car, cabin filters also stop debris from entering the blower motor housing. If your car doesn’t have an air filter – or it’s not working – then debris can build up on the blades of the motor.
This can cause the fan to be knocked off balance and start overheating. Eventually, this could lead to the motor failing entirely.
Yes, in fact, changing it yourself is fairly straightforward. The only tools required are a screwdriver, a rag, and a new filter. Here’s how to do it:
- Open your bonnet and locate the filter. If you can’t see it then consult your car’s manual to find out where it is.
- Use the screwdriver to unscrew the filter or to pry open the snaps (if it’s secured by snaps).
- Give the area a wipe with the rag.
- Use the screwdriver to secure the new filter in place.
Cabin filters are an absolute game-changer for people who suffer from seasonal allergies like hay fever. They filter out the nasty particles that cause symptoms and keep the air in your car nice and clean.
Just remember to replace your filter regularly for allergy-free cruising!