How Often Should You Change The Pollen Filter?

A pollen filter filters out dust, pollen, and other pollutants from the air that enters through the ventilation system. It can vary with each vehicle, but these filters should be replaced approximately every year or every 15,000 to 20,000 miles. Ignoring the replacement of a dirty or clogged pollen filter can lead to poor air quality inside the car, resulting in potential respiratory issues and reduced HVAC system performance, among other performance-related problems.

A pollen filter or cabin air filter keeps the air that flows into a car’s cabin clean through the ventilation system by filtering out pollen and dust. Over time the filter can get dirty or clogged up – read our guide to find out more and how often you should change the pollen filter.

What Does A Pollen Filter Do?

The pollen filter’s main job is to stop dirty air from entering the vehicle’s cabin. But if the air ventilation system is not performing very well it’s possible that it’s dirty. Over time lots of dust, grime, twigs, leaves, and even insects can accumulate across the surface of the pollen filter. The filter traps this dust, pollen, and other foreign particles, essentially cleaning the air before you breathe it in. In turn, a clean pollen filter can also help improve the performance of your ventilation or air conditioning system.

Like all filters, they need at least cleaning when they become clogged or start to smell. Often you may be able to remove some of the bits and pieces that have nestled themselves in the filter. At some stage, though, a pollen filter replacement is inevitable.

How Often Should You Change The Pollen Filter?

A pollen filter generally needs replacing once every year, or between every 15,000 to 20,000 miles. Your car’s service schedule will give specific advice as to when it needs replacing.

Ultimately, the more you drive the car, the dirtier the filter will get. That’s why it should really be replaced at regular intervals. How quickly it gets dirty does really depend on the type of car you have, how much you drive and where. After all, driving in traffic or in heavily polluted areas will mean that the pollen filter needs to be replaced more often. As it will be more affected by grime and dust.

How Can You Tell If The Pollen Filter Needs Replacing?

Checking the condition of the pollen filter can be left to the mechanic for your next service. Usually, the pollen filter replacements will be covered by your service schedule which is recommended by your manufacturer. These scheduled services are important to the maintenance of your car and will prolong life for many years. Typically, you should replace the pollen filter every year (or 12,000-15,000 miles) or more often if you suffer from pollen allergies or live in very polluted areas.

There are multiple signs your pollen filter needs replacing – here’s our top 4:

Sign 1: Poor airflow

The most common issue with pollen filters is poor airflow, as more and more debris clumps together to block the filter. This will obviously mean that you don’t actually feel much, despite you speeding down the motorway. Opening a window hurts your MPG so this small breeze is a bit more of an issue.

Sign 2: A bad smell

Another symptom of a blocked-up pollen filter is a foul-smelling breeze. As dust builds, so do bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms will release a lot of pungent smells that no scented pine will ever protect you from. You might not notice it if you drive often, but newcomers to the car may just plug their noses as they struggle to breathe the ‘clean’ air.

Sign 3:  Odd noises from car air vents

If there is some blockage, you may hear odd noises or just a loud low tone sound. This might alarm your passengers if you can even hear them over the sound of air being squeezed into your car. It definitely puts a slight dampener on any relaxing drive.

Sign 4: Fogged-up windows

One of the causes of fogged-up windows in the autumn or winter can be a blocked pollen filter which means there is a reduced amount of air coming through the air vents. Hence, when the pollen filter is dirty, it allows for more condensation to form on the inside of the windshield.

How to check the condition of the pollen filter?

The location of the pollen filter can vary, but it is usually accessible without too much hassle. In some cases, it’s found inside the glove box compartment and in some cases it is found under the bonnet of the car near the bulkhead. Check your car owner’s manual to verify the exact location of the cabin air filter, where it is located and how to replace it.

If it’s inside the glove box, you might need to remove the glove box to access the filter. This usually involves unsnapping the glove box from its position to lower it down, revealing the filter housing. Then, you can slide or pop the filter out. If the filter is located under the bonnet, you’ll typically find it in a housing near the base of the windshield. There may be clips or screws holding the cover in place. Once these are removed or undone, you can lift the cover and take out the filter.

In the Volkswagen Golf models typically have the pollen filter located under the hood, near the back of the engine compartment. It’s often in a housing that can be opened by releasing a few clips. The Audi A3 and Nissan Qashqai usually have their pollen filter located under the glove box or within the dashboard on the passenger side. Consulting the vehicle manual is the most accurate way to find the specific location of your vehicle’s pollen filter.

Can you clean the pollen filter rather than replace it completely?

The pollen filter is generally made of pleated paper material which means you can’t really clean it with water. If it is made of a more robust material such as cloth then using a vacuum cleaner may be a temporary solution. Either way, it is recommended to replace the pollen filter as it is relatively inexpensive and will ensure optimum performance.

What happens if you don’t change the pollen filter?

If you don’t change your pollen filter, dust and pollen will build up on it and eventually make their way into your car’s cabin and will compromise the vehicle’s HVAC system. This may cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems in the long run.

Why you need to replace your car’s pollen filter

Particularly in the city, it is important to have a functioning pollen filter as there are plenty more pollutants in the air that you need to avoid. In urban environments, you may want to get your filters replaced more regularly due to the stop-start nature and heavy traffic. We recommend sticking to your scheduled servicing per your manufacturer’s guidelines, as this will keep the filters and the rest of the car in prime condition.

If you think there is a problem with your pollen filter then get a certified Clickmechanic to come out and inspect any problems with your car’s air ventilation system.

Marketing at ClickMechanic

Meet Kurt, an automotive industry expert with over 13 years of experience. He currently leads the Marketing & Growth team at ClickMechanic, of which he has been an integral part of for the past decade. He has been involved with most parts of the business helping grow the company to new heights, from the creation of the innovative quote engine, and operations, to content and growth marketing automation.

With his extensive background in car repairs and customer support, Kurt is well-positioned to share his expertise on automotive technical topics. A car aficionado from an early age, his physical journey in the automotive world began with his trusty VW Golf 4, which took him on memorable adventures throughout Europe during his student days.

Outside of work, Kurt is a maker, as well as a design and technology enthusiast, embodying a unique blend of creativity and precision with an international outlook. He has a keen interest in the latest advancements in car maintenance and clean vehicle technology, as well as a heart for classic cars. His favourite classic cars include the Lancia Fulvia Series 2 and the Citroen DS, showcasing his appreciation for timeless automotive craftsmanship.

6 thoughts on “How Often Should You Change The Pollen Filter?”

  1. THANKS FOR THAT LITTLE BIT OF VERY USEFUL INFORMATION. I HAVE BEEN DRIVING NOW FOR ALMOST 42 yrs AND TO BE TRUTHFUL I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF A POLLEN FILTER, NOR HAVE HEARD ANY MECHANIC SPEAK ABOUT ONE. THATS WHY I LOVE YOUR ARTICLES ON MOTORING.

    Reply
  2. I have a Peugeot 307 and the catalytic converter warning light continually comes on and off with lots of juddering of the engine and loss of power….the next day it will automatically right it self.

    Is this due to needing a new pollen filter please????

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle, thanks for your message. Honest answer is that it is very hard to establish whether the symptoms you describe are due to the pollen filter. We would in these instances advise to get an inspection first so that a mechanic can look into this in more detail. We have a diagnostic inspection available for these kind of situations.

      Reply

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