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April 02, 2013

FRAM Fresh Breeze® Cabin Air Filters: Installation Is a Breeze!

DSC08976Hello again, AskPatty Nation! The folks at FRAM® were kind enough to send me one of their Fresh Breeze cabin air filters (gratis, in fact - thanks FRAM®!) to try out. If you're a little mystified as to what a cabin air filter is, you're not alone – check out our Filtration Education article from last month for all the details. Believe it or not, I didn't think my car actually had a cabin air filter until I started this process – which means of course that mine had never been changed. Let that be a lesson to you all: don't assume you don't have one – look it up! The FRAM Fresh Breeze® website has a comprehensive list of models they support, and installation really is a breeze. Let's take a look at the process:

DSC08974I drive a 2006 Kia Rio, and I love her. I tend to drive cars until the wheels fall off, rather than searching for a new one every few years, so I plan on taking this one well into six digits on the odometer in the years to come. In my particular model, the cabin air filter sits inside the dash, behind the glove box. Some cars have the filter in a different spot, sometimes even in the engine compartment, so this is by no means a comprehensive installation guide (unless you also happen to drive an '06 Rio). The first order of business for installation was to remove the glove box, which turned out to be the hardest part of the process.

DSC08980My particular model comes with two stops on either side that needed to be removed. Some Rios have a damper cable, which is easily disconnected, but mine does not. Getting these two tabs out took a little bit of effort, for me, most likely because the car is seven years old and they'd never been removed. I was afraid of breaking one. The instructions that come with the filter, my owner's manual, and even Google simply instructed me to “remove” these tabs, with no real indication as to how to do that. Thankfully, the FRAM Fresh Breeze® site came to my rescue with a very helpful video! Their video was for a slightly different model, as their glove box had the damper cable, but it at least showed me how to pull those tabs out. Once I understood how they were attached, pulling them free just took a little encouragement with a flat-head screwdriver. So, piece of advice for any of you first-time air filter installers: visit the FRAM Fresh Breeze® site and watch the instruction video for your car. It's a lifesaver.

DSC08983Once I had those pesky tabs removed, my glove box was free to swing all the way down on its hinges, exposing the air filter cover itself. Thanks to another variation in vehicle styles, the filter cover in FRAM's video attached differently than mine, but it was simple enough to figure out with my owner's manual: squeeze the two tabs on either side, and pull straight out. The old filter pulled out as easily as opening a sock drawer – although if I saw this when I opened my sock drawer, I'd either move, call an exterminator, hold an exorcism, or all of the above. Yikes!

ComparisonHere's a side-by-side comparison of my old filter and the new one. As you can see, my cabin air quality should be improving immensely now that I have the new filter installed. One thing to take note of: when you take the old filter out, make sure to note the Air Flow direction indicated on its side, and install the new filter in the same orientation. In my case, the filter fit snugly in the sock-drawer housing, and simply slid back into place and locked with a satisfying click. Easy peasy!

DSC08991From here, it was a simple matter of reinserting the stop tabs – which was easy now that I'd figured out how they come out – and closing the glove box again. So, for a final analysis – definitely visit the FRAM Fresh Breeze® website for a wonderful and very helpful installation video, and be aware that certain small details may vary from model to model. To account for those minor nuances puzzling you, have your owner's manual handy. It will contain instructions specific to your particular vehicle. Finally, if you're reading this and you, like me, have never replaced your cabin air filter (or aren't even sure if you have one), visit and find out right now. Your lungs will thank me - the air in your car may be dirtier than the air outside! Thanks to the fine folks at FRAM for the opportunity to educate myself and for the wonderful product! Thanks to you, my morning commute today was a breath of fresh air.


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