Change Your Car Cabin Air Filter: It’s So Simple

fram fresh

My truck stinks and no matter how clean we got it we still couldn’t get to the bottom of the “smell”. It seems that the smell had nothing to do with the cleanliness of the car itself but of some very simple car maintenance that we had overlooked–the cabin air filter and engine filter needed to be changed.

Let’s back up a bit. I grew up with a father that could fix anything and if there was one reason why I would move home it would be to learn how to maintain my truck without paying  a mechanic to do it. It may not seem like a big deal to some but even carving out an hour of my day to drive to the shop and wait around with four kids while they change the filters is HUGE. It gives me anxiety just thinking of it and to be honest, I would just pretend it didn’t need changing rather than do it.

That is probably the reason why our car smelled absolutely horrendous this summer. I knew that the air in the car was dirty but I didn’t realize that the air could be up to 6 times dirtier than outside. Everytime the AC came on we would have to also open the windows to get rid of “that” smell. Kind of counter productive.

Then along came the opportunity to learn how to change the cabin and engine air filters and I jumped on it. I love a good learning moment and this was right up my alley.

fram fresh air filter

FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filters and FRAM Engine Air Filters

About 80% of cars made after 2000 have cabin air filters and if you want to have air that is free of dirt, dust and allergens then you should be changing these babies annually or every 24,000km (Follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicle owner’s manual). You should be changing the cabin and engine air filters at the same time as well as they do go through the same air and if one is down for the count it’s a safe bet the other needs to be changed as well.

The FRAM Fresh Breeze® air filter looks different than the one I took out of my car in looks and function. Using activated charcoal and Arm & Hammer® baking soda to absorb and eliminate odours the filter is white on one side but I can actually see the dark charcoal portion as well.

fram fresh air filter

Why should you be changing those air filters though?

Because. Just because. No, I am kidding, engine air filters are the first line of defence your engine has. They ensure that dirt and debris don’t enter your (expensive) engine and damage it. When the filter is clean it will improve overall engine performance by increasing acceleration and horsepower–thus getting you to the coffee shop in a more timely manner.

fram fresh

How to Change the Cabin Air Filter Using FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filters

If you go on YouTube and search out your car and how to change the cabin air filter you will find dozens of videos. If you don’t have access each FRAM Air Filter has instructions in the box so don’t fret. I admittedly watched these videos before I even applied for this opportunity because I know there is only so much my husband would let me do on our truck before he said no.

It took me 5 minutes to change the cabin filter TOPS. I was done before my husband got the chance to come look and tell me I was doing something wrong. I (theoretically) put on the Super Woman cape and proudly showed off my work, parading around like a peacock looking for a mate. I basically climbed my Mount Everest and you can too!

Step 1. Go buy your FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Filters. We got ours at our local Canadian Tire. I called before I went in to ensure that they had the ones I needed in stock and when I got to the store I asked the service desk to check which ones I needed for my particular car and went and grabbed them off of the shelf.

fram air filter

Step 2. You will need to access the area behind the glove compartment box in your car. Some cars have screws that have to be unscrewed to pull the glove compartment out of its space. Mine just had to be opened and pulled out. Took .5 seconds to do.

fram fresh air filter

Step 3. Do you see that white rectangular block. That is the housing for the cabin air filter. Pull it out.

fram fresh air filter

Step 4. Look at the old air filter. Contemplate the meaning of life and try to figure out how you have not attempted to do this yourself before. You see leaves and even bugs. There may be enough dust in the filter to make it look like it is mold. It is most likely dust. Relax. Gently remove the old filter from the housing.

fram fresh air filter

Step 5. Take new FRAM Filter from box and insert into housing. Look at both filters together and smile at what the future holds for you and your car–SPOILER ALERT it’s clean air and better engine performance.

fram fresh air filter

Step 6. Put the housing with the new filter in it back into the space behind the glove compartment box.

fram fresh air filter

Step 7. Put your glove compartment back in its place. Stuff all of the receipts you are holding onto for no reason back in the glove compartment because out of sight means out of mind.

fram fresh

Step 8. Drive somewhere, anywhere really, and smell the goodness. Actually, you will not smell anything because the filter takes all of the smells away. Just know that the magic is happening and smile to yourself.

Are you Ready to Become an Automobile Maintenance Goddess?

Easy right? I am pretty sure that even you were surprised by this post and are saying to yourself that you can do this yourself. These two filters cost me just under $50 to buy before taxes and took 10 minutes to replace. Let me enlighten you on something though. I just called my local franchised oil service station where I usually get this sort of work done and asked how much it would cost to get the job done. $113 dollars BEFORE taxes and the filters they replace with are not comparable to the FRAM ones. Will I be saving at least $60 every 24,000 km that we drive our car? I sure will!

The question though that really needs to be answered is whether you will take a leap of faith on yourself and save time and money? To help you on your journey check out these tips and tricks on replacing filters.

Oh and pin this for later because you know you will need it eventually, you automotive goddess you!

fram fresh air filter

Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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  1. Lynda Cook
    September 14, 2016 / 11:04 am

    I would love this, but sadly my 2007 Trail Blazer does not have this feature, my husband is a mechanic and I told him about it and he said our truck does not have one, so I googled myself and guess what he is right, so I get to breath stinky air, thanks Chevy!!

  2. October 3, 2016 / 2:18 pm

    It’s so great that these exist. My family has asthma and we need all the clean air we can get! #client

  3. kathy downey
    May 15, 2017 / 11:09 am

    This is such a nice addition,clean air is so important!

  4. July 11, 2017 / 8:06 am

    Every car expert suggests the car owners to fix the issues of their vehicles when they are surfaced first time. If you avoid them, one day they will become a major impediment. Here the author describes his own experience how the poor cabin air filter and engine filter create stink. For getting everything okay, it is easier to hire a car professional. But think, if you can do this, there is no need to call them and also no need to pay them off. Hence, you should learn few things about car maintenance.

  5. kathy downey
    August 13, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    Yes upon changing my filter you were so correct quick and easy !

  6. Debbie White Beattie
    October 1, 2017 / 11:15 pm

    I think it’s great that you know how to do some routine maintenance on your vehicle because I bet it saves a lot of money not to mention it gives you a great sense of accomplishment because I wouldn’t know how to do any of it.

  7. Cheryl Grandy
    June 24, 2018 / 10:56 am

    Thanks for the information. I think I could do it.