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Most people know that they have an oil filter that needs to be replaced every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Some people know that they also have a fuel filter that needs to be replaced. Remarkably, even fewer realize they have a cabin filter that needs to be checked as well.

The cabin filter, while not essential to the basic function of the car, does have an effect on your air quality. Many premium car lines such as Volvo, Lexus, Honda and others often have cabin air filters.

Replacing them regularly ensures that dust and particulates are filtered from your car and improve the overall inside air quality. People with allergies should be especially aware of the air filter, since it helps to filter out pollen and road dust and prevents it from entering the inside of the car.

The cabin air filter has other functions in addition to cleaning the air in the car. A clogged air filter reduces the efficiency of the passenger heating and cooling system.

This can have a moderate effect on gas mileage and function since the heater or cooler needs to be turned on higher to provide the same level of passenger heating and cooling. And, the cooling and heating system reportedly drain fuel, albeit at such an insignificantly small level it doesn’t make much of a difference in overall fuel consumption.

However, in the interest of keeping your car from working harder than necessary, it’s best to replace the filters regularly. On average, overusing the air conditioning only drains your car by about a half mile per gallon.

Typically, the cabin air filter is located near the passenger’s glove compartment. In many cars, it can be accessed without tools. Some more compact cars may require removing a portion of the dashboard or a screwdriver to take the panel off for access.

Most cabin air filters should be replaced about every 15,000 miles, although some filters are listed for 20,000 miles. Some dangerous side effects of not changing a cabin air filter include allowing noxious air into the cabin and possible corrosion created from mold, mildew or condensation forming on the blocked filter.