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 30,000 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 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 and 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 and where it is located and how to replace it.
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 its 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.
6 thoughts on “How Often Should You Change The Pollen Filter?”
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.
Hi Eamonn, it’s really great to hear that you find the articles helpful! An extra encouragement for us to continue with the articles we do.
I have a Rover 75 2.5 connoisseur nearly 14yrs old not sure if it’s ever been changed.
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????
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.
Have a p38 rangerover starting problem change plugs and relay at garage still the same over six months