By Matt Pataky
Since the shelter-in-place orders, we have worked diligently to keep our facility as clean as possible. We put floor mats, steering wheel covers and seat covers in cars. We clean contact points when we first get in and when we get out of the car after we are finished. We clean the office, pens, keys, door handles, etc.
The best way to maintain clean air in the car is to properly maintain the cabin filter, which is something we check as part of our vehicle inspections.
Cabin filters have been an integral part of a car’s climate control system for decades. In the late 1950s, an executive chauffeur named Hans Freudenberg noticed that every time he drove a client, his uniform got dirty. He started designing filters that would work in the car’s air ventilation system to stop dust and dirt from getting on his uniform. By 1989, Mercedes-Benz was making large orders with Freudenberg and most German car companies followed suit. Fast forward to 2000 and nearly every car company had cabin filters as a standard feature.
Cabin filters do a lot more than filter out sand, dust, organic matter and soot. The active carbon cabin filters can significantly remove gaseous particles such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbons. The latest cabin filter technology has come a long way, and some manufacturers use HEPA technology. The makers of the Bosch cabin HEPA cabin filter that we use claim that they can provide filtration efficiency of 99.79% of allergens, pollen and dust at 0.3 microns. By using these types of cabin filters, we are doing our best to make sure you and your family are breathing the cleanest air.
Vehicle cabin filters also protect the air-conditioning system’s evaporator. When the AC is running, a large amount of condensation builds up on the evaporator core. Before cabin filters, the dust and dirt mixed with the condensation and created what I’d call a type of mud. This mud would build up at the bottom of the heater box and corrode the evaporator core. Prior to 2000, we had to replace evaporator cores all the time due to this type of corrosion. With the advancements of cabin filter technology, we almost never see evaporator core problems anymore.
Some cabin filters are difficult to replace and others are basic. Either way, we are amazed by how many incorrectly installed cabin filters we see. When a cabin filter is being installed, the technician (or car owner) must follow all steps and make sure the filter is not installed upside down. We pull a lot of cabin filters that have been stuffed into their slots and have become distorted. Once a filter gets distorted, it cannot prevent the dirt from getting into the heater box.
When it comes to car maintenance, the cabin filter usually gets shoved to the end of the priority list. But as we move into the new normal, it’s moving up.
Matt Pataky owns Sunnyvale Foreign Car Service,15 Pioneer Way, Mountain View. For more information, call 960-6988, email