Can a Dirty Cabin Filter Cause Your AC Not to Work?

Learn how a dirty cabin filter affects your car's AC system and how you can keep it running efficiently for longer.

Can a Dirty Cabin Filter Cause Your AC Not to Work?

Cabin air filters are designed to capture dust, insects, leaves and other types of debris. A dirty air filter can significantly reduce the cooling capacity of your air conditioner and, if left unchecked, can cause unnecessary strain on the entire system. Another common cause of AC failure is a faulty compressor. A dirty air filter also makes the AC fan motor work harder, which can cause it to burn out and need to be replaced.

In addition, a clogged cabin air filter works less efficiently and consumes more energy, putting the alternator to the test. A faulty cabin air filter also cannot capture particles efficiently, resulting in a dirty and smelly cabin. This can make driving or getting in the car an unpleasant experience. Although a dirty cabin air filter usually doesn't cause engine problems, it will cause the car's HVAC system to work harder than it needs to. This can cause the engine to overheat or even burn out, because clogged or dirty filters will reduce the amount of air flowing through the vents.

Lack of proper airflow affects cabin air temperature, depending on whether air can pass through the heater core, evaporator, or both. You'll notice that the air conditioner starts emitting unpleasant odors once you turn it on. Not only that, but you will also experience a change in the quality of the air conditioner; you will start to feel hot even if the air conditioner has been on for quite some time. As a result of the buildup, a dirty filter will also cause poor cold air flow in the air conditioning system. That cold air will be trapped inside the air conditioner, causing ice to form on your coils. Once that happens, the air conditioner will freeze and stop working.

However, before your system completely freezes, there will be some telltale signs you need to watch out for. One of them is uneven cooling throughout the house; if you notice that some rooms are harder to cool than others while others are constantly feeling cold, you'll want to check your air conditioning filter first. A polluted air filter couldn't filter air as effectively as a clean one. This results in restricted airflow for the air conditioning system, which in turn causes the vents to blow air out with much less force and also adds additional strain to the vehicle's air conditioning system. If your air conditioner continues to work, licensed technicians can take a look at your air filter and clean or replace it if necessary. If you leave the air filter of an air conditioning unit clogged for too long, you may experience a system-wide failure.

To clean the reusable air filter, remove it from the AC unit and rinse it in a tub or sink with warm water. A clogged cabin filter will produce moldy or dusty air that smells similar to the air inside a home with a dirty air filter. Not only that but when a dirty filter constantly forces your AC system to work overtime, it causes significant wear and tear on your unit. The difference between an engine filter and cabin filter is that a dirty engine filter can negatively affect vehicle performance while a cabin filter is responsible for the quality of the air inside the passenger compartment. A soft healthy fan noise is an indicator that your cabin filter and AC system are in good condition. A faulty filter can mean inadequate cabin air, affect air quality and cause your AC system to consume more energy among other effects.

Some people don't change their filters because they're not sure where it's located or how to actually change it. A clogged air filter does not filter contaminants that cause problems for people suffering from allergies or other respiratory conditions. If you need AC maintenance including cleaning or replacing your air filter count on us to meet your needs. While dirty filters can prevent an AC from working there are many ways to keep your AC well-maintained and running efficiently for longer.