Smelly vehicle cabin? Can’t seem to find what or where the bad smell is coming from? Well, maybe take a look at your cabin air filter. This overlooked piece of vehicle equipment is actually a very important part, not really for the car, but for the people sitting inside of it.
The cabin air filter filters the air coming from the HVAC system in the car, which can sometimes pick up gases from outside vehicles or pollutants that are in the air outside. These foul smells and harmful gases are not healthy to breathe in, which is why we need the best cabin air filters.
So, choosing one should be easy, right?
Well, there are plenty of different types of cabin air filters, from 3-layer filters, re-usable filters, and standard polyurethane filters. This can make picking the right filter difficult, which is why we decided to review a selection of the very best cabin air filters available to find the perfect one for your car…
- 1 Top 8 Best Cabin Air Filters To Purchase in 2021 Review
- 1.1 1 K&N Premium Cabin Air Filter – Best Premium Cabin Air Filter
- 1.2 2 Spearhead Premium Breathe Easy Cabin Filter – Best Value Cabin Air Filter for the Money
- 1.3 3 Bosch 6055C HEPA Cabin Air Filter – Best HEPA Cabin Air Filter
- 1.4 4 Puroma Cabin Air Filter with Activated Carbon – Best Carbon Cabin Air Filter
- 1.5 5 Kootek Premium Cabin Air Filter – Best Rated Cabin Air Filter
- 1.6 6 Mann-Filter CUK 2939 Cabin Filter – Best Mid Range Cabin Air Filter
- 1.7 7 FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter – Best FRAM Cabin Air Filter
- 1.8 8 ECOGARD XC36080 Premium Cabin Air Filter – Best Budget Cabin Air Filter
- 2 Best Cabin Air Filters Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for more of the best car care products?
- 4 So, what are the Best Cabin Air Filters?
Top 8 Best Cabin Air Filters To Purchase in 2021 Review
1 K&N Premium Cabin Air Filter – Best Premium Cabin Air Filter
K&N’s cabin air filters are excellent for drivers who are aware that we should strive to be more environmentally friendly with washable filters that can be reused multiple times. Once the filter gets clogged up, a quick wash will clear up all the dirt and gunk stuck inside, and you are left with a filter that is as good as new.
These filters are usually a bit more expensive but will save you money over the long run since you don’t have to keep replacing the filter.
Keep your cool…
The filters are made from polyurethane that is durable and filters really well. Not only will this keep dirt and pollen from entering the cabin, but it also will keep the airflow up to par, keeping the cabin cool and fresh.
We did find that after the installation, the car smelled rubbery for a week or so before the smell disappeared. This is normal due to the rubber that holds the filter in place.
- The filter is re-usable.
- Environmentally friendly.
- Costs more than non-reusable filters.
2 Spearhead Premium Breathe Easy Cabin Filter – Best Value Cabin Air Filter for the Money
Spearhead’s cabin air filters are well designed and built filters that offer superior comfort and performance. Spearhead uses a three-stage filter system that catches pollen, exhaust debris, and other allergens, effectively keeping the cabin air pure and smelling fresh.
How does it work?
The first filter is a dust filter, then the air will pass through an anti-microbial filter, and lastly, we have the absorption filter. The filter clears up the air in the cabin, keeping allergies at bay as well as any bad smells that might come from outside or the air-conditioning system.
The durability is excellent; with honeycomb-shaped charcoal weaves, you can expect to use the filter for up to 15,000 miles.
Might need some modification…
Installation isn’t as straight forward with the filter as some other products with a vague instruction manual and oversized edges that might need some modification in certain vehicles.
- Durable, up to 15000 miles.
- Three-layer filter.
- Not re-usable.
- Installation instructions aren’t well written.
3 Bosch 6055C HEPA Cabin Air Filter – Best HEPA Cabin Air Filter
Bosch has designed their cabin filters to filter all sorts of contaminants like mold and allergens, keeping the air you breathe fresh whilst driving. This filter can be fitted onto many different vehicles, including brands like Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai.
Bosch’s filter does a great job trapping smaller particles in the air, with a melt-blown electrostatic layer that ensures all pollutants are caught before they reach your nose.
But that’s not the best part…
The filter meets HEPA standards, and the structural ribs make the filter more durable than most other filters on the market. Installation is very easy with an excellent instruction manual that shows you how to fit the filters in your vehicle brand and type.
The only issue we found was that the filter is quite thick, inhibiting some airflow, making it less cool than other filters of the same type.
- Easy to fit.
- Electrostatic layer catches a lot of dirt.
- Thick filter layers might inhibit airflow.
- Not re-usable.
4 Puroma Cabin Air Filter with Activated Carbon – Best Carbon Cabin Air Filter
If you are worried about airborne contaminants that might make their way to your lungs whilst driving, then look no further. Puroma’s cabin air filters catch all soot, pollen, and dust with ease. The woven baking soda layer and activated carbon layer keep foul odors at bay.
The closed mesh filter then catches the rest of the pollutants keeping the air clean and fresh for up to 12,000 miles. However, if you find yourself driving in heavily polluted areas, such as near mines or other industrial areas, replacing the filter every 5,000 miles is advised for the best results.
Installation is fairly easy with the instruction manual, and these filters can be fitted on a large range of vehicles.
- Charcoal layer eliminates odors well.
- Not re-usable.
5 Kootek Premium Cabin Air Filter – Best Rated Cabin Air Filter
Kootek’s premium cabin air filters are a great way to keep the air fresh and clean inside your vehicle’s cabin. What makes Kootek’s air filters special is the 24-layer design that enables the filters to trap dirt and other contaminants much more effectively. The larger the surface area of the filter, the more dirt can be caught, which is why this large amount of layering really gets the job done.
Kootek has also added a baking soda and carbon layer to eliminate nasty smells that might try to sneak their way into the cabin. These filters won’t fit all vehicles, but the range of supported vehicles is quite large. Before purchasing these, make sure that your vehicle is on the list.
The only problem we encountered was the large number of layers lowering the airflow into the vehicle, which could be a problem for some.
However, the installation was quick and easy, and these filters have a lifespan of 12,000 miles before you need to replace them.
- Easy to install.
- Large number of layers effectively filters the air.
- Long lifespan.
- Restricts airflow.
- Not re-usable.
6 Mann-Filter CUK 2939 Cabin Filter – Best Mid Range Cabin Air Filter
Mann has designed their cabin air filters with a 3-layer design that captures all particles, allergens and mold effectively without restricting airflow to the cabin. The three-layer design here is firstly composed of a carbon filter, which eliminates foul smells.
The second layer is an anti-microbial filter, which filters out bacteria and mold. The last filter is a natural polyphenol layer that catches most allergens, keeping the air fresh and clean during your commute.
Protection for your lungs…
These filters also protect you from harmful gases like sulfur and nitrogen oxide that can be found in the air whilst driving. This not only keeps the cabin smelling good but also protects your lungs.
- Protects your lungs from harmful gases.
- 3-layer design filters air effectively.
- Not re-usable.
7 FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter – Best FRAM Cabin Air Filter
FRAM’s fresh breeze cabin filters can keep your vehicle smelling fresh and keeps the air clean longer than any other filter on the market. This cabin air filter filters 98 percent of pollutants, including allergens, dust, and other harmful gases that might cause respiratory diseases. Not only does FRAM filters keep the air clean and fresh, but they also improve the airflow to the cabin significantly.
This means the air will only be clean but will feel cooler and stronger. FRAM packs these filters with carbon and Arm & Hammer baking soda to stop any foul smells right in their tracks, so you never have to smell any foul odors in your cabin again.
What makes them one of the Best Air Filters for your cabin?
These filters are super easy to install and feel much more durable than any OEM filters on the market. These filters also have the best lifespan of all the non-reusable filters on the list, with 30,000 miles of usage.
The largest drawback of these filters is their price, which is why these did not make the top spot.
- Excellent filtering.
- Long lifespan.
8 ECOGARD XC36080 Premium Cabin Air Filter – Best Budget Cabin Air Filter
EcoGard’s cabin air filters have a super high efficiency of filtering. They can filter up to 99.5% of contaminants in the air, including dust, allergens, and other pollutants.
The filter also helps improve airflow to the cabin, keeping the air circulating and smelling fresh all day long. This not only keeps you healthy but keeps the car healthier and cooler.
Quick and easy…
Installation is quick, with easy-to-read instructions and a simple fitting process. There is no recommendation of when to replace the filter, but most OEM manufacturers recommend changing the cabin air filter every 15,000 miles, although that is highly dependent on the air quality of your environment.
These filters are cheaper than most other brands in our review but aren’t as great at filtering out smelly odors as the rest on the list and don’t feel as durable. If you are looking for a quick and cheap fix, these will suffice.
- Easy to fit.
- Doesn’t filter foul odors as well.
Best Cabin Air Filters Buying Guide
Cabin air filters keep the air you breathe in the cabin clean and fresh. This is important since many cars emit large amounts of gases that are harmful to us, which means we are exposed to them on a daily basis whilst driving. Having proper cabin air filters is imperative to our health, which is why it can be tricky to choose the one that is best for you.
Here are some important things to look at before purchasing new cabin air filters.
Different Types of Cabin Air Filters
Activated Carbon Cabin Filters
Activated carbon is used the same way as charcoal. These filters are used to catch harmful gases like carbon monoxide that can cause damage to your lungs if inhaled. Activated carbon is definitely better than charcoal but is usually a bit more costly.
Particle Cabin Filters
Particle cabin filters are made to trap extremely small particles, up to 0.3 microns in size, that might enter your car’s cabin. This includes things like pollen, smoke, dust, and more.
A lot of filters have a charcoal layer added to the filter. This is because charcoal can absorb harmful chemicals and pollutants as well as foul odors that make the air smell fresh. It also helps with exhaust fumes that might make their way into the cabin.
These layers are electrostatically charged, attracting and catching super fine particles. These filters do well to capture smoke from cigarettes and exhausts, as well as mold and other spores, fungus, and mildew.
Next, we’ll discuss the main reasons to replace your cabin air filter…
Better HVAC Performance
If you are still using the original factory filter in your cabin, then it is most likely clogged up. This means that the HVAC system is not supplying sufficient air to the car’s cabin, which might result in it sounding noise or not cooling properly.
If you get a bad smell coming from the car’s ventilation system, then your filter is most likely dirty or clogged up. Replacing this filter is the first step to get rid of any bad smells you might be smelling inside the car. Getting a filter that has baking soda, activated carbon, or charcoal will quickly clean up the air and deodorize it, leaving you with fresh and clean smelling air.
Help with allergic reactions
If every time you drive, you seem to get a stuffy nose or sneeze uncontrollably, then the cabin filters might be dirty. Replacing it with an activated carbon filter might be your best option. These filter out pollen and other allergens really well.
And now, some other things to consider before buying an air cabin filter…
Most OEM manufacturers suggest that air cabin filters must be replaced every 15,000 miles. This depends heavily on where you are driving. If the air quality is very poor, this can drop to as little as every 5,000 miles. That said, there are washable air filters available on the market that can last much longer.
As mentioned, where you are driving makes a massive difference in how long the filters will last and what you might from a filter. If you are driving in large cities, getting active carbon filters is great for filtering all the gases that come with the large amounts of traffic.
Also, if you drive dirt roads every day, you will also need to replace the filter much sooner, which means getting a washable filter might save you money in the long run. If you have allergies, then buying the 3-layer system filters will be better, since these are able to filter most allergens and pollutants with ease.
Looking for more of the best car care products?
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So, what are the Best Cabin Air Filters?
Whether you are racing down dirt tracks every day or driving through town to get to work, getting the right cabin air filter is not only important for your car’s health but your own as well. Our top pick is…
Since the cabin air filter is such an overlooked part of the car, having a re-usable cabin air filter not only saves money but means you can rest easy when it comes to your health. Simply pop it out every few months and give it a wash, and you will never have to worry about what you are breathing in when you’re inside your car’s cabin.
Happy healthy driving!