Toyota Cabin Air Filter Buyer's Guide

The cabin air filter is often an overlooked part of a car. A lot of car owners don’t realize that there’s a cabin air filter and it needs to be replaced every 15K-25K miles (give or take, depending on the condition of the air outside).

If you’re a Toyota owner who’s itching to learn more about cabin air filters, we have the answers you need in this guide.

Below, you’ll find answers to the three most frequently asked questions Toyota owners have about cabin air filters.

1. What is a Cabin Air Filter?

Located somewhere behind your dash (most commonly behind the glove box) is a cabin air filter. It’s a square or rectangular part with pleated filter material inside. The cabin air filter is situated between the vents and the rest of the HVAC system, and its purpose is to trap all the dirt and polution coming into the cabin. Without a functioning cabin air filter, you’re breathing dirty air that’s loaded with dirt, dust, pollen, and automobile exhaust fumes.

In a nutshell, a cabin air filter keeps the air inside the cabin very clean. Here’s a good source with more information on what a cabin air filter is. 

2. How Do I Know When it’s Time to Replace My Cabin Air Filter?

The general rule of thumb is to change your cabin air filter once a year. However, you might need to replace it sooner if the air outside is especially dirty or dusty. Also, there are situations where you can wait a little longer to replace your cabin air filter. For example, you might not use the HVAC system that often, or the air outside is cleaner than usual.

If you’re not sure whether your cabin air filter still has some life left, you need to visually inspect it. Here’s a great tutorial on inspecting your cabin air filter. 

3. Should I Get an OEM or Aftermarket Cabin Air Filter?

Element filter

A genuine OEM cabin air filter for select 2012-2015 Toyota models. Part # 87139-07010

If you find that your cabin air filter is clogged, you have to replace it as soon as possible if you want to maintain great air quality inside your Toyota’s cabin. A lot of Toyota owners wonder if they can go the aftermarket route in order to save a few bucks. It’s actually not a good idea to install an aftermarket cabin air filter instead of an OEM filter. It’s because:

  • Aftermarket air filters don’t always fit right
  • The filter material in aftermarket air filters isn’t always high quality and probably won’t last as long as OEM filters
  • Aftermarket air filters usually come with shallow pleats spaced far apart

This comparison guide covers each point in more detail.

If you still have some questions about cabin air filters, feel free to give us a shout!

Written by Jason Lancaster