Did you know that your car has two separate air filters? One helps your engine breathe easier, while the other keeps your cabin fresh and protects essential components of your air conditioning and heating system. Your car's HVAC system is similar to a home's forced air heating or cooling system, and it contains many of the same components.
Your car heats your cabin by passing air across the heater core and cools it by moving air across an evaporator coil. These components must remain relatively clean and dust-free for maximum efficiency, so a filter is necessary to remove particles from the air. Unfortunately, leaving this filter too long can create major issues for your car's HVAC system.
Why Do Cabin Filters Clog?
Your home HVAC system's air filter contends with numerous sources of contamination, including household dust, pet dander, allergens, and outside dirt. However, this large filter doesn't need to deal with nearly as many sources of contamination as the much smaller filter in your vehicle. A typical road environment includes everything from automotive fumes to tiny particles from tires and asphalt.
These contaminants inevitably make their way into your car, where your cabin air filter will pick them up and remove them. This filtration keeps your air fresh and protects your heater core and evaporator coil from jamming up with particles. Unfortunately, this constant abuse also means that your car's air filter will tend to clog up pretty quickly.
Why Should You Worry About a Clogged Filter?
A clogged filter won't necessarily immediately impact your car's air quality. However, the restricted airflow may cause the system to draw more contaminants through other parts of the system. Restricted airflow can also have serious consequences for your car's HVAC equipment, including causing the evaporator coil to freeze.
Poor airflow can have other consequences, as well. These can include stress and premature wear on your cabin blower, mold growth on your evaporator coils, or even damage to your compressor if the evaporator continually freezes up. All of this damage can occur from ignoring a part that's typically extremely cheap and easy to replace.
When Should You Change Your Cabin Filter?
Your car's owner manual should list a mileage interval for replacing your cabin air filter, but there's no harm in changing the filter out more often. If you live in a dusty area, drive on dirt roads, or travel through regions that experience wildfires, you may want to consider changing your filter more often. These contaminants can wear out and clog your filter more quickly.
Poor airflow through your vents or a struggling blower motor indicates you may be waiting too long to replace your filter. While other automotive HVAC problems can cause these symptoms, replacing your cabin filter is a cheap and easy place to start, and it may just solve your problem while protecting the rest of your car's HVAC equipment.
For more information on car filters, contact a company near you.