What is the Difference Between an Engine Air Filter and a Cabin Air Filter?

Learn about how an engine air filter and a cabin air filter differ from each other in terms of their purpose and function.

What is the Difference Between an Engine Air Filter and a Cabin Air Filter?

The air cleaner is located in the engine compartment under the hood inside a sealed housing and is one of the fundamental components of the engine. The life expectancy of the engine depends on the quality of the air entering the engine and, if the air is dirty, it negatively affects the vehicle's performance. A cabin air filter mimics the construction of the engine air filter, but it actually performs a very different job. The cabin air filter is placed in the mouth of the heater box to treat air entering the passenger compartment.

This filter removes dust, soot, pollen and other environmental allergens to continuously provide fresh, clean air to the cabin space. You should replace this filter regularly, as the element becomes filled with particles and becomes much less effective. Dirty cabin air filters not only lower the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system, but also allow allergens to infiltrate your airspace. When the air filter remains unobstructed and well-maintained, you can ensure that only clean air reaches the interior of the engine.

As the name suggests, this air filter is located inside the engine to keep harmful debris out of this system. Without a clean air filter in place, your vehicle's engine could suffer damage or decrease its efficiency, as dirt particles prevent complete combustion. Buying an aftermarket air filter is often a performance improvement, while looking for a cabin air filter is more of a health and safety concern. The air cleaner is located inside a sealed housing in the engine compartment to ensure that the only air entering the engine is free of these harmful particles.

If the air cleaner is not replaced and allowed to block, it can increase fuel consumption and cause additional strain on the engine and driveline components. This filter is installed inside the air conditioning system, to filter dirt, dust and pollen from the air entering the cabin. Now that you know how your engine air cleaner and cabin air cleaner work, and how they differ, you can easily navigate the service interval identification and replacement process with the help of your specialized automotive technician. When you think of an air filter, you're likely to associate it with a device used to clean the air you breathe. Air filters not only prevent engine inefficiency by maintaining air quality, but they also increase fuel consumption, horsepower, and torque.

To keep dust and dirt out of the engine, the engine air filter is placed in the front and center of the intake. During an oil change, you may be advised to change your internal combustion air filter, as a clogged or dirty filter affects engine performance. While you may not give much thought to this small service, regular engine air filter replacements are affordable and can save you thousands of dollars in engine damage. Like the cabin filter, the rate of necessary engine air filter replacement depends on the type of vehicle. It can be difficult to control the pollutants that pass through your vehicle, so the cabin air filter works hard to keep your driving experience safe, comfortable and healthy.