Cabin air filters are a new feature found on many late model vehicles. These filters are responsible for filtering the air that enters the vehicle when the heating and air conditioning (AC) systems are in use. They prevent any debris, such as dust and leaves, from entering the vehicle’s ventilation system, and also help keep the cabin odor free and comfortable for the passengers.

Over time, in much the same way as an engine air filter, cabin filters accumulate dirt and debris, hindering their ability to filter airflow, and need to be replaced. Common indicators that you need to replace your cabin air filter include:

  • An increase in noise, along with a decrease in airflow when using the heating or air conditioning systems

  • A faint odor present coming from the vents (due to a dirty, overly saturated filter)

This article covers how to replace the cabin air filter in cars that require the glove box to be removed in order for the filter to be changed - these cars include some Toyotas, Audis, and Volkswagens. It is a relatively simple procedure, and very similar across a wide range of models.

Materials Needed

Step 1: Clean out the glove box. The cabin air filter is located within the dashboard, behind the vehicle’s glove box.

  • The glove box will need to be removed in order to access the cabin air filter so take everything out of it first.

  • Open the vehicle’s glove box, and remove any paperwork or items that may be there to prevent from falling out when the glove box is removed.

Step 2: Remove the glove box screws. Once all items have been removed, unfasten the glove box from the vehicle.

  • This step may require the use of hand tools, and may also vary slightly from model to model. However, it is usually a very simple task.

  • Note: In many vehicles the glove box is held on by one screw, or is simply held on by plastic tabs that can be pushed free. Use the flashlight to thoroughly examine the bottom and sides of the glove box, or refer to your vehicle owner’s manual to determine the proper method for removing the glove box.

Step 3: Remove the cabin air filter. Once the glove box is removed, the cabin air filter cover should be exposed. it is a thin, black plastic cover, that has tabs on both sides.

  • Remove it by pressing the plastic tabs to release it, and expose the cabin air filter.

  • Note: Certain models use screws to retain the plastic cover. In these models one need only remove the screws, using a screwdriver, to be able to access the cabin filter.

Step 4: Replace the cabin air filter. Remove the cabin air filter, by pulling it straight out, and replace it with your brand new filter.

  • Tip: When removing the old cabin filter, take care to be gentle and not to shake off any debris, such as leaves or dirt, that may be loose on the filter.

  • When removing the cabin filter, take note that some models will also house the cabin filter in a black plastic square housing. In these cases you only have pull out the entire plastic sleeve, and then remove the cabin filter from that. It pulls straight out, in the same exact manner as models that do not use the plastic sleeve.

Step 5: Put the plastic cover and glove box. Once the new cabin filter has been installed, reinstall the plastic cover and glove box in reverse of the order in which you removed them, as shown in Steps 1-3, and enjoy the fresh air and flow of your new cabin filter.

Replacing a cabin air filter in most vehicles is usually a simple task. However, if you don’t not feel comfortable taking on such a task, your filter can be replaced by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How To Replace a Cabin Air Filter That’s Behind the Glove Box and was authored by Ed Ruelas.


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