Paul Kortman of NAPA Filters, a distributor of light and heavy-duty filters for the automotive aftermarket, said those who have a 2000 model year or newer vehicle will probably have a cabin air filter, which blocks airborne contaminants like pollen, dust, car exhaust, allergens -- as well as the smelly build-up caused by mold, mildew, algae and fungi and more.
Without a clean, functioning cabin air filter, microscopic contaminants are pushed into the car -- via the vents -- irritating allergies. In addition, a dirty cabin air filter can degrade and potentially damage a vehicle's heating and air conditioning systems, Kortman said.
"Without proper filtration with a clean, functioning cabin air filter, the air inside the passenger cabin can be full of allergens and other pollutants," Kortman said in a statement. "That can mean a significant health risk for kids and some 60 million people who suffer from asthma and allergies in the United States."
A recent survey showed 95 percent of vehicle owners were concerned about in-car air quality, but just 26 percent said they knew there was a cabin air filter in their vehicle, Kortman said.
Most vehicle manufacturers suggest cabin air filters be replaced every 12 months or 12,000 miles, Kortman said.