Cabin air filters are important in cleaning the air that enters your vehicle’s cabin. Located in the car’s ventilation system, these filters are used to trap moisture, dust particles, bugs, and soot. If you don’t want to deal with a smelly and dirty car filled with exhaust fumes, you need to regularly replace your cabin air filter.
This is because cabin air filters get clogged after a while, since they filter out all that unwanted elements. To help you out, here’s a comprehensive guide on changing cabin filters, including a list of our 10 best picks in 2020.
- It’s time to change your cabin air filter if…
- Top 10 Best Cabin Air Filter Reviews
- 1. Mann-Filter CUK 2939 Cabin Filter
- 2. K&N Premium Cabin Air Filter
- 3. Spearhead Premium Breathe Easy Cabin Filter
- 4. FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter
- 5. Kootek Cabin Air Filter with Activated Carbon
- 6. EPAuto CP285 (CF10285) Premium Cabin Air Filter
- 7. Motorcraft FP-70 Filter-Odour and Particles
- 8. TYC 800001P2 Honda Replacement Cabin Air Filter
- 9. ECOGARD XC36080 Premium Cabin Air Filter
- 10. ACDelco GM Original Equipment CF188 Cabin Air Filter
- How to find the best cabin air filter
- Type of cabin filter
- Vehicle compatibility
- Protection capabilities
It’s time to change your cabin air filter if…
Remember, cabin air filters don’t last forever and you will need to change them at some point in time, perhaps after a few months of use. Also, know that the service life of a cabin filter largely depends on your driving conditions.
For example, driving on a daily basis in heavy traffic will result in having to change your filter much quicker than if you drive around forest areas and national parks brimming with clean, fresh air. The same goes for driving in deserts on dusty roads since there is a lot of dust, sand, and other particulates that will eventually clog up the filter.
You will know that it’s time to replace your filter if there is a consistent presence of bad odor inside the vehicle, as well as reduced air flow in your HVAC system.
Top 10 Best Cabin Air Filter Reviews
Here is a list of the top 10 cabin air filters we found that will let you breathe clean and fresh air inside your car.
Our top pick is the Mann-Filter CUK 2939, which is a high quality cabin air filter that is designed for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. It is designed with a lining of activated charcoal that enhances the filter’s filtering qualities, which means you get to enjoy more clean and fresh air inside the cabin.
This is because the activated charcoal better traps dust particles, pollen, spores, and harmful gases such as fuels, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. The filter also features fibers made with a nonwoven particle media that acts like a sponge to improve filtering capabilities and overall stability.
All of these technologies and innovations make this cabin air filter work really well. The combination of electrostatic and mechanical attraction effectively draws in the dust and dirt particles to give you cleaner air to breathe in.
- Available in multiple packs
- Made with activated charcoal
- Easy to install
- Only works for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles
We also really like the K&N premium cabin air filter, which is an amazing option that is actually reusable so you can’t always enjoy a high quality of air inside your car. It comes with a filter that is made from an electrostatically charged material that can effectively grab dust particles and hold on to them so they can not enter the inside of your car.
This cabin air filter also helps remove bacteria, allergens, mold, mildew, and fungus, along with other debris from the air. It also works really well in catching debris even while your car’s air conditioner or heater is running.
Furthermore, it is actually really easy to install and can be removed just as easily once it needs a good cleaning. There are also plenty of different options available depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model, so you are sure to find a cabin air filter that fits your vehicle.
- Reusable and washable option
- Filters allergens, mold, mildew, etc
- Easy to install and remove
- Requires a special cleaning solution
- Limited availability for some car makes and models
If you are looking for a long-lasting solution, we highly recommend the Spearhead Premium Breathe Easy cabin filter, which effectively lasts 25% longer bandits competitors thanks to its activated carbon lining the filter.
It comes in a honeycomb like a shape and can easily last for up to 15,000 miles, thanks to its thicker and heavier material construction, including an electrostatic media that filters out the air entering your vehicle. The activated carbon we mentioned earlier is densely packed in the filter, which means it can effectively trap and absorb debris, odors, and harmful gases.
To add to that, this filter also features a triple-state filtration system consisting of a dust filter, antimicrobial filter, and absorption filter, that keeps out debris, allergens, and exhaust fumes. This means you can say goodbye to road debris, microbes, and more.
- 25% longer service life
- Industrial strength construction
- Three state filtering system
- Thick material limits airflow
Another amazing option is the FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter that utilizes baking soda in order to filter out any air impurity. This substance combines with carbon in order to clean the air from outside your car as it passes through the vehicle’s ventilation system.
Trust us, this is one hardworking filter that does excellent work in filtering almost a hundred percent of common air contaminants including dust and pollen. It is also designed to allow for more airflow inside the cabin, which also reduces the risk of accumulating bad odors.
Not only that, this cabin filter also tracks particles to prevent them from entering and damaging your engine. What this means is, engine wear becomes limited, therefore making it last longer and giving you more mileage without encountering a lot of issues. It’s also pretty to install and even comes with a tutorial video to help you out.
- With Arm & Hammer baking soda
- Protect your engine and HVAC from damaging particles
- Relatively easy to install
- Installation videos require QR codes
Yet another superior option is the Kootek cabin air filter with activated carbon that acts as the filter’s key filtration component. What really sets this filter apart is that it has the capacity to absorb minute particles as tiny as 5 microns, which makes for a vastly improved air quality inside your vehicle.
Aside from the active carbon, this cabin filter also includes soda to help absorb common dust, odors, and debris particulates. Plus, it also improves the smell inside your car, as well as enhancing your HVAC’s performance, meaning, your air conditioning can run better for a longer period of time.
To top it all off, this cabin filter is extremely helpful in removing road dust and pollen, which makes it great for anyone suffering from allergies. It is also easy to install in just 7 simple steps, and even comes with an instruction manual for installation.
- Absorbs extremely small dust particulates
- Helps improve your HVAC performance
- Easy 7 step installation
- May not be suitable for some vehicles
For owners of Land Rovers, Toyotas, Subarus, Lexus, and Scions, we highly recommend the EPAuto CP285 (CF10285) Premium cabin air filter, which is a great option for creating cleaner air inside your automobile.
This is done by using carbon and soda to trap dust and dirt particles before they make their way inside your car. This combination even helps in eliminating odors inside the car by trapping fumes and gases in the filter’s material.
You will also find multiple options of this cabin filter for different car models in order to find the right fit, which is important since small and ill fitting filters can prove ineffective as the gaps will allow dirty, unfiltered air to pass through your ventilation system. That said, installation is easy and straightforward.
- Excellent combination of carbon and soda
- Eliminates car odor by absorbing exhaust fumes
- Easy installation, comes with instruction manual
- May not be suitable for some car models
Now, if your priority is to make sure that your car always smells clean and fresh, one of the best car cabin filters we can recommend is the Motorcraft FP-70 Filter-Odour and Particles, which, as you may have guessed, combats particles and others to keep your cabin air clean and fresh. This is all thanks to the filter’s ability to capture small particles as small as 10 microns in size.
This cabin filter has undergone comprehensive and rigorous testing in laboratories and real-life situations to guarantee that they’ve met high standards in terms of supplying the best filtered air quality inside your vehicle cabin. They also contain several layers of material that filter smog, soot, and smoke through various electrostatically charged layers.
This means that you can breathe better air quality while also protecting your HVAC system by limiting the amount of pollen, dust, spores, mold, and fungus that collected inside the HVAC’s components.
- Solid polyester spun frame
- Multiple filtration layers
- Traps very small dust particulates
- May not be suitable for some vehicles
If you own a Honda, you should also check out the TYC 800001P2 Honda Replacement cabin air filter, which comes in two options: a combination filter or a particle filter, both of which are good choices albeit serving different purposes.
On one hand, the particle filter is a single layer filter, whereas the combination filter comes with an additional layer of carbon to help remove and prevent odor accumulation inside your vehicle. Either way, both options collect dirt and dust particles effectively.
We actually prefer the combination filters since these eliminate pretty much any lingering airborne contaminants and exhaust fumes. These can also filter more air thanks to the specifically designed filtration that offers a higher load capacity, thereby allowing for more and better airflow to prevent your car cabin from becoming uncomfortable or stuffy.
- Available in two filtration options
- High dust load capacity
- Prevents bad odors from accumulating
- Only compatible with Honda vehicles
Here is another option for owners of Honda vehicles, the ECOGARD XC36080 Premium cabin air filter, which is compatible with most Honda models. it’s great in filtering out 95.5 percent of all dust particles, pollen, air pollution, pet dander, allergens, and various other airborne contaminants trying to find a way inside your vehicle.
It comes with an added purpose of protecting your HVAC system by keeping it clean and well functioning through cleaning the air from mold and bacteria before they flow inside the HVAC’s components. It’s even great in improving the ventilation in your air conditioning and heater so you can remain comfortable throughout the drive.
Furthermore, this filter is helpful in eliminating musty odours and preventing them from coming back, making this an ideal option for anyone with respiratory issues and allergies that are easily triggered by contaminants in the air.
- Filters out 95.5 percent of contaminants
- Hell up screen your HVAC system
- Eliminates and prevents bad odors
- Only compatible with Honda vehicles
Finally, we also have the ACDelco GM Original Equipment CF188 cabin filter, a highly recommended option by General Motors. That’s because this is a high quality air filter made from a nonwoven material, long media, and compound, all of which help capture more particles in the air while also increasing airflow.
It’s separated compound media is made with three different layers, with the first outer layer capturing large airborne particles, the middle layer trapping smaller particles, in the third innermost layer providing much-needed stability and strength to the cabin filter.
This is actually one of the best cabin air filters you can buy if you own a GM vehicle, since it’s specifically manufactured to fit your ride, and works really great in preventing and filtered air from entering your cabin.
- GM-recommended for GM vehicles
- Three separate media layers
- Better filtration and increased airflow
- Not suitable for non-GM vehicles
How to find the best cabin air filter
Replacing your cabin air filter comes with many benefits. It improves your HVAC performance by allowing it to supply plenty of air into your car. It also improves the HVAC’s service life by protecting its vital components and reducing its noise during operations.
There are many benefits of having a cabin air filter.
Cabin air filters are, of course, essential in eliminating bad odors and musty smells from inside your car and ventilation system. filters that come with activated charcoal or carbon are particularly great in eliminating these bad odors, as well as in improving the air quality inside your car, which can actually help alleviate motion sickness symptoms.
Plus, a cabin filter can help reduce allergic reactions by trapping allergens including dust and pollen so you don’t have to deal with constantly wheezing, coughing, and sneezing while you are inside the car.
Type of cabin filter
There are many different types of cabin air filters, and we will talk about the four most common ones below:
As the name suggests, activated carbon filters come with a special ingredient, activated carbon, to absorb harmful gases and airborne contaminants that are trying to pass through your car’s ventilation system.
Charcoal cabin filters are ideal in filtering out both small and large particles with the use of coal as its special ingredient, which is also great in eliminating terrible odors, including tackling cigarette smoke inside the car, in preventing exhaust fumes from accumulating in the cabin.
Electrostatic cabin filters are made with electrostatically charged layers that can attract and hold my minute particles just a few microns in size. This means the filter can effectively trap exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, diesel carbon, bacteria, mold, mildew, fungus, and spores, along with controlling bad odors.
There are also particle cabin air filters that can track even tinier particles less than a single micron in size before they find their way inside your car cabin. Particle filters are the best in the category when it comes to filtering out dust, pollen, smoke, spores, mold, bugs, human hair strands, and other tiny debris.
One thing you need to remember is that cabin air filters are designed to tailor a perfect fit for certain vehicles. Remember, different vehicle models come with different-sized HVAC systems, which means you should avoid universally fitting cabin filters and rather, focus on those that are specifically made for your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
not all cabin air filters are made the same; some offer better protection capabilities than others. As such, your buying decision needs to be based on your specific needs, such as whether you just want to breed cleaner air, reduce risk of allergic reactions, make the air inside your car smell better, and so on.
On average, cabin air filters last for about a year or 12,000 miles, but the reality really depends on the make and quality of the air filter along with your driving location. That said, it is possible to get a better quality filter that has a life span of more than 30,000 miles.
You can also choose to go with a reusable and washable cabin filter to lessen waste and reduce your need to constantly buy replacement filters.
Again, your driving conditions are an important part of the buying process when it comes to cabin air filters, since you need to be able to find a suitable filter and that actually works for the air quality in your driving location.
For instance, if you are regularly driving through highly polluted urban environments, a basic cabin filter with a single layer of protection will not be enough to filter out all the soot, smoke, dust, and exhaust fumes from the air. On the other hand, if you live in a rural environment, you can make do with a cheaper and less complicated air filter.
Ease of installation
You also have to keep in mind that some cabin air filters require the help of professionals when it comes to installation, and this is something that you don’t want if you want to save money. As such, it is important to find a good cabin filter that is easy to install on your own.
This means that installation should not take more than a few steps that are easy to follow, and that the product should come with a detailed instruction manual, or even links to tutorial videos that you can watch.
Ease of cleaning
As for washable and reusable cabin filters, the rule of thumb is that they should be easy to clean, which should take a short time without requiring the use of special cleaning solutions, so you can readily place the filter back into the vehicle before you drive again.
A product’s brand name is not always a testament to its quality, but when it comes to cabin air filters, it is definitely a good signifier, and as such, you should always look at the brand to determine whether it is a reputable one with plenty of positive customer reviews.
Finally, another important consideration is the price of the air filter. Now, cabin air filters are sold in a wide price range, with the lower quality ones so that only under $10. These filters may be cheaper but they are pretty durable and reliable, and come with a 12,000 mile service life. You might even find decent filters with charcoal, activated carbon, and electrostatic elements.
That said, most cabin air filters are priced at around 10 to $20. These filters are a lot more durable and are made with higher quality materials. you will find a lot of innovative filters in various shapes and sizes, as well as special ingredients, and these filters are almost always guaranteed to last for a longer time frame.
The best cabin air filter is one that helps clean the air inside your vehicle by filtering the air from outside before it even enters the cabin through your air conditioning and heating system. it should be able to effectively filter out dust, dirt, pollen, and other airborne particles.
Better yet, the cabin filter should also be able to prevent allergens, fumes, and bad odors from accumulating inside the vehicle so as to prevent discomfort, difficulty in breathing, allergic reactions.
Take the Mann-Filter CUK 2939 Cabin Filter for example. It’s a high-quality filter that not only cleans and purifies the air inside the cabin but also makes the air smell better and feels fresher with the use of activated charcoal.