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Difference between the Air filter and Cabin Filter - Mechanicaleducation.com

Difference between the Air Filter and Cabin Filter:

What is Air Filter?

An air filter is a device that removes dust, dirt, pollen, and other particles from the air.
The air filter in cars is used to clean the air before it enters the engine. The filters are designed to be replaced every six months or at least every 15,000 miles of driving to maintain maximum performance.

What is Cabin Filter?

A cabin filter is a device that captures engine fumes and cleans them before they enter the passenger compartment.
It can be found in cars and trucks, motorcycles, boats, airplanes, etc.

Difference between the Air Filter and Cabin Filter:

  1. Air Filters - remove large particles from the air before entering into the engine.
  2. Cabin Filter - removes dust, pollen, and other contaminants from the conditioned air that enters the passenger compartment.
  3. The air filter is the part of the car that cleans the air that comes into the engine (trapping dust and debris before it enters the engine).
  4. The cabin filter is the part of the car that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment ( it is responsible for trapping allergens and other pollutants inside the car). 
  5. The cabin filter is typically located in the HVAC system, while the air filter is located in the engine compartment.
  6. The cabin filter traps airborne particles that are less than one micron in size. Some particles are too small for this light gauge fiberglass fabric to catch them though which is why you need an accompanying engine A/C & Heating Air Filter to trap some of those same impurities before they become airborne once again. Fresh air enters through the car's A/C system and moves over these two filters so they can rid it of any contaminants picked up on its way into the
  7. The engine air filter captures dust, dirt, and other particles that are sucked in from the outside by the engine. The air passes through an air intake duct, so its main objective is to protect the cylinders inside of the engine. To do this it has to be replaced regularly because it fills up with dirt after so many miles of driving.
  8. Replacing the cabin filter is a bit more expensive than replacing the engine air filter, but it's a lot more important for your health. If you're not sure whether or not your car has a cabin filter, you can check your owner's manual or consult with a mechanic.
  9. The cabin filter doesn't need to be replaced as often as the engine air filter.
  10. The air filter is usually located in the engine compartment, and the cabin filter is usually located in the dashboard or under the hood. The air filter can be easily accessed by opening the hood of your car. For the cabin filter, you typically have to open up certain panels to get to it.
  11. The cabin filter is usually made out of reusable cotton or paper material. When it gets dirty, you can usually pull it out, take it to an auto parts store, and they will clean it for you.
  12. Both filters should be replaced every 12 months or 12,000 miles(although this will depend on the type of filter and the quality of the air in your area).
  13. Many people don't realize a cabin filter even exists until they smell smoke from their car vents. This is an indicator that it needs to be changed immediately. 
  14. Some people mistakenly believe that the air filter and the cabin filter are the same. But in reality, they are two completely different filters. It is important to know the difference between the two so that you can take care of them both properly.


Cabin filters have been designed to remove potentially harmful particulates including carbon monoxide and other gasses before they enter the passenger compartment so it's important to keep your car at peak performance by replacing them as recommended by factory specs or sooner if you can smell any odors inside your vehicle. 

The air filter cleans your intake of fresh air by removing all contaminants before they enter your engine.

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