Which Air Filter is More Important: Cabin or Engine?

Cabin air filters are designed to filter out much finer particles than engine air filters, making them more prone to getting dirty, smelly and clogged. If you've noticed a new bad smell in your car or have reduced heating and air conditioning performance, it's likely time to replace the cabin air filter. On the other hand, if your car is running slow or losing engine power suddenly, you may need to change the engine air filter. If the air cleaner is not replaced and allowed to block, it can increase fuel consumption and cause additional strain on the engine and driveline components.

This filter removes dust, soot, pollen and other environmental allergens to continuously provide fresh, clean air to the cabin space. Clean engine air filters contribute to green initiatives by burning fewer fossil fuels and reducing vehicle emissions. Research has shown that replacing dirty car air filters can increase fuel consumption by 10 percent in older vehicles (prior to 1999) and could even save 15 cents per gallon. People who live in rural areas with dusty roads, dirt roads, or heavily polluted areas will need to change their air filters more frequently.

Without a clean air filter in place, your vehicle's engine could suffer damage or decrease its efficiency, as dirt particles prevent complete combustion. While you may not give much thought to this small service, regular engine air filter replacements are affordable and can save you thousands of dollars in engine damage. A clogged engine air filter reduces performance, increases emissions and increases fuel consumption. If you've noticed that your allergies seem to act worse when you're driving, or you tend to get headaches every time you're in your car, it's probably time to change your cabin air filter.

Like the cabin filter, the rate of necessary engine air filter replacement depends on the type of vehicle. This may not seem to make much of a difference, but it could cause the filter to malfunction and allow unfiltered air to enter the car's engine. Another benefit of cabin air filters is that they prevent insects, leaves, and other debris from entering your car's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. To keep dust and dirt out of the engine, the engine air filter is placed in the front and center of the intake. If you want to save a couple of dollars and are interested in learning more about cars, you can consider changing the engine air filter yourself.

It can be difficult to control the pollutants that pass through your vehicle, so the cabin air filter works hard to keep your driving experience safe, comfortable and healthy.

Jo Burgey
Jo Burgey

Lifelong beer expert. Passionate music fan. Evil internet nerd. Passionate zombie nerd. Infuriatingly humble social media ninja.