CAR CARE: Smoke from wildfires could clog your cabin air filter

Are you enjoying the fresh air now that the wildfire smoke that hung over the West Coast for more than a week has wafted away?

Your vehicle certainly appreciates these clean conditions, although there may be some leftover effects that may need to be addressed following that nasty bit of compromised air quality which kept us all indoors earlier this month.

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On top of that list is your cabin air filter, which may have filled up with a whole bunch of gunk as it was put into heavy duty use weeding out harmful particles during those smoky days, said David Wong, service manager at the North Vancouver Canadian Tire location.

“The job of a cabin air filter is to filter out any debris or allergens or contaminants in the air, such as the heavy smoke that was with the forest fires, from going into the cabin so we wouldn’t be breathing that stuff in the cabin when we turn on the AC or the heat or the fan,” said Wong. “If it is clogged up due to the smoke, it can push that smoky air into the car and you’ll be breathing all of that smoke from the outside.”

Now that we’re breathing fresh air again, it might be a good time to have that cabin air filter checked to make sure it is still functioning properly following the wildfires. On some cars the cabin air filter is fairly easy to locate and check at home, while on many others it is a bit tricky to find.

“It’s not the easiest filter to get to, but it’s different for every vehicle. The most common location for a lot of vehicles is behind the glovebox,” said Wong, adding that now is as good a time as any to get yours checked out by a trusted service department if you aren’t able to check it yourself. “A lot of people overlook the cabin air filter.”

This article originally appeared in the Car Care special feature section of the Sept. 23, 2020 edition of the North Shore News.

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