Next time you're making the drive into work, take a moment to observe the cars around you. How many do you see that have every window rolled up tight in an effort to keep that nice air conditioned air inside (or to keep all that winter chill outside, depending on the time of year)? And cars made in the last 15 years or so seal so well you can almost feel the pressure change as you close the last door.
I think you'll come up with the same observation as I have. Most drivers like their cars sealed tight. Only one problem with that; contaminated air.
Did you know that unfiltered cabin air could be nearly six times more polluted than the air outside the car? And by pollutants, I mean things like pollen, dust, mold spores, diesel soot and smog. But that's not a problem for about 85% of the cars made since 2006. That's because they are equipped with a high tech device used to clean up that incoming air.
The cabin air filter.
First introduced in Europe in 1987 in an effort to protect passengers from pollen and dust, they quickly evolved to include traffic related emissions like diesel soot and smog. But the idea really didn't catch on in the United States until the mid-90's, and even then it was primarily used on the higher end of the OEMs offerings.
Cabin air filters have come a long way in a relatively short time. Most filters are able to filter out particles as small as 3 microns, with top-of-the-line filters able to screen out contaminants as small as 0.001 microns. To put that in perspective, a dot made with a sharp pencil is about 200 microns in size.
Cabin air filters not only play an important role in reducing airborne contaminants. As a side benefit, they help keep the a/c evaporator clean and that helps reduce the potential for mildew and odor as well as insure peak cooling performance. Left alone, a clogged cabin filter can impact a/c performance (by choking off air flow to the evap) and in some cases, has resulted in a/c compressor damage.
As techs, we understand the need to keep the engine's filters clean and maintained. When was the last time you checked to see if your customer's car was equipped with a filter for the air they're breathing and inspected its condition?
No, cabin filters are not just an add-on sale. They are as much a part of routine maintenance as servicing any other filter on the car. And that's the topic of this month's "The Trainer".
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