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Hybrid maintenance tip #3: Why it’s important to change your cabin air filter

Replacing your car's cabin air filter can prolong the life and performance of your hybrid battery.Replacing your car’s cabin air filter can prolong the life and performance of your hybrid battery.

Here’s another tip for prolonging the health and performance of your hybrid car battery: Replace the cabin air filter regularly. It’s simple and affordable.

Why is this important? The cabin air filter cleans the air being circulated in the passenger compartment. This is the air you’re breathing. Checking the filter regularly and replacing it when it’s dirty is important on any vehicle. But it’s even more important on hybrid cars because it affects the ambient air temperature around the hybrid battery.

The Toyota Prius, for example, uses the air inside the passenger compartment to cool the hybrid battery that’s in the trunk. If the cabin air filter is dirty, it restricts air flow into the passenger compartment and into the trunk. It simply cannot cool the battery as well as a clean filter. The hotter the air temperature around the hybrid battery, the more it stresses the battery. Prolonged stress can reduce the battery’s performance, and you could find yourself needing to rebuild or recondition the battery sooner than later.

In more severe cases, a dirty cabin air filter can keep the air conditioning (A/C) from working. We recently saw a case where the cabin air filter was so clogged with dirt and debris that air couldn’t flow through the filter to the evaporator, which is a key part of the car’s A/C system. The evaporator operates at freezing temperatures, and it needs air flowing over it to keep ice from building up. If the air stops flowing, ice builds up and the A/C stops cooling. Inside the car, you’ll notice less air coming from the vents, and the air you do feel won’t be as cold.

Interestingly, once you park the car, the ice will melt and restore your A/C performance temporarily. You’ll have A/C the next time you drive – until the ice builds up again.

At CARS of America, we check your cabin air filter as part of our multi-point checklist during a routine oil change. Not quite due for an oil change but want to know how your cabin air filter is doing? Schedule a no-charge filter inspection now.


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