Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cabin Air Filters and Bullshit

So, I took my car in for an oil change the other day. Nothing special, just your everyday, run-of-the-mill* oil change service appointment. I am usually not particular about where I get my oil changed, so usually it's just random where I end up going. For this particular time, it was Jiffylube.

I took my car in, and sat in the waiting room watching women's downhill skiing on the complementary TV. Besides the fact that we were watching women's downhill skiing, the other thing that sucked complete ass was the fact that the waiting room was colder than...than the snow that you use to ski downhill, like in women's downhill skiing for instance.

Cold and obscure sporting events aside, the wait wasn't long so that was good. Soon I had one of the grease-laden Jiffy employees coming to greet me in the waiting room of ice. I noticed that he was carrying an air filter under his arm as he sat down beside me.

Oh, shit.

JiffyBoy: Hey there, guy. Just wanted to let you know that the oil change looks good, and your car is doing fine.

Me: Well, that's good. We were all worried. How's she feeling after the procedure?

JiffyBoy: Uh...fine. You have a Honda, and those cars are built not to need maintenance. Besides the oil change, there's not much else we have to do!

Me: Yeah, well I'm sure you'll think of something.

JiffyBoy: Your air filter looks good, so we don't need to change that.

Me: Really? You oil change places always try to get me to replace my air filter! Are you sure it doesn't need to be replaced? Are you feeling ok?

JiffyBoy: No, no. The air filter is fine.

Me: So...why are you holding one?

JiffyBoy: Oh, this is your cabin air filter. And as you can see, it's dirty.

Me: Eh? My what?

JiffyBoy: Your cabin air filter. It's dirty.

Me: You lost me. What's a cabin air filter?

JiffyBoy: It's the air filter for your cabin.

Me: My cabin? You mean the thing at the front of airplanes?

JiffyBoy: Yeah, except this cabin is for your car.

Me: So...by "cabin" you are referring to the inside of my car?

JiffyBoy: Yes. Anyway, your cabin filter is dirty, so we can go ahead and replace that for you.

Me: Ahh that sounds more like the JiffyLube I've come to know. Now we're back to normalcy. No, I don't need my interior car air filter replaced, thanks.

JiffyBoy: It's a CABIN air filter, and it should be replaced. It's important to your breathing.

Me: My breathing? It filters the air INSIDE my cabin, correct?

JiffyBoy: Exactly!

Me: So, would you say it's safe to say that this air filter device helps to screen out the negative particles in the air that is present within my car interior?

JiffyBoy: It's a CABIN, but yes that about sums it up.

Me: So, we can therefore state that the air filter in question is filtering the air that comes into my car from the outside? You're saying this helps to filter the outside air that travels into the comfort of my driving cabin.

JiffyBoy: Yes!

Me: That's stupid.

JiffyBoy: What?

Me: That's stupid. You can't filter the "outside" air. That's just...air! You can't filter regular air. It's not like the air filter is going to save me from smog or smoke or pollen. The second I open my car door, I'm breathing it in again.

JiffyBoy: Yes, but while you're driving you'll be breathing better. Trust me, it makes sense and you want to do this. It's only $31.99 to replace it.

Me: No. Go away.

JiffyBoy: But...

Me: No, no. I don't want it. I like to breathe air. It's been good to me, and we've been together since I was a baby. I like it just the way it is. Please don't take away my childhood.

JiffyBoy: Fine. But if you stop breathing one day, it'll be the air filter being dirty that kills you.

Me: Noted.

Needless to say, I did not purchase the $32 "cabin air filter" that they suggested. I called up some friends and nobody else had ever heard of a cabin air filter, either. So I'm not just stupid or ignorant of a car's inner workings.

It was just lame. If this happens to you, be strong and JUST SAY NO TO CABIN AIR FILTERS!

*What the hell does "run-of-the-mill" mean,anyway? Where did we get that saying?


Anonymous said...



The ordinary, basic article, with no decoration or augmentation.


There are many 'run of the...' phrases that have been used to denote ordinariness of some commodity or other. The meaning of all of these phrases is broadly the same, i.e. they refer to products that come direct from the mill in an ungraded state and may contain some imperfections. They differ of course from phrases like 'having the run of the mill', which would denote the freedom to roam around the mill.

Early examples of this are 'run of the kiln', 'run of the mine' etc. These refer to 'runs', i.e. periods of active use of the industrial process in question. For example, The 1909 Century Dictionary Supplement defined these as:

"Run of the kiln, bricks of all kinds and qualities just as they happen to come from the kiln."
"Run of the mine, coal just as it comes from the mine, large and small sizes and all qualities together."

Run of the mill is a little earlier than those and is American in origin. The mill in question was a weaving mill and the articles first called 'run of the mill' were clothes.


Anamika Anyone said...

Thanks Maccafreak. Now I can brag about the fact that I know the etymological origin of the phrase "run of the mill"!

And Shanshu: Mechanics, salesmen, and 1 gram gold jewellers are all nags. Have you ever got calls about buying credit cards? It drives me up the wall.

MsLittlePea said...

Cabin filters and the like are going to be the downfall of our society. I know this.

Arlene said...

My last few cars have had those car interior filters. I've never changed one, and no one's ever asked me to, although according to my owner's manual I should change it every 15,000 miles, which would mean 2 a year for me. No thank you. We're lucky I change her oil and rotate her tires!

Callie said...

Jeez - it never fails. Every single time I go to one of those places, they think I should get something additional done. Grr. Just let me run my damned car into the ground and leave me be! Do you think I really care about something that mundane when you can plainly see I've pushed my oil change from 3,000 to about 12,000 miles? Do you think I care about the air I breathe when you see petrified french fries in the back of my car???!!!!

*rant over*


Think Frustrated said...

The cabin air filter is usually conveniently located behind your glove box. You just open the glove box, do some magic so that it comes all the way down, and replace it yourself for $8.

Jeffrey said...

I had never heard of a cabin filter too until I went to trouble shoot my climate control system on my old (now deceased) 1994 Mercedes Sedan. You don't even know what your cabin filter is being you have one. It's what keeps you from breathing in dust when you drive past a quarry, and some how it even manages, to cut down on outside odors. I am now driving a 2001 Corolla without a cabin filter (the last model year before they added it). I smell EVERYTHING, even just emissions from the sedan in front of me, also my car accumulates dust much faster than my old car.

You don't need to change your cabin filter, but it puts undue stress on your expensive A/C components (somehow, it must) and will definitely decrease your air output.

You can change it yourself, and I would, you don't even know if that guy put ANY filter back in.

I have no vested interested in Jiffy Lube.

You aren't ignorant, this is a new type of filter unless you have a luxury car.

Anonymous said...

Actually I pulled mine out and looked at it. It was full of leaves and dead bugs and such. I decided to order one and replace it.

Clinton Dunham said...

Cabin filter sits just below the blower fan responsible for moving air throughout your car's venting system. When you run your A/C or heat, your blower motor is what is making the air move.

If there is no cabin filter present, the blower motor / fan accumulates dust and debris (like the fans on the back of your desktop computer) until they eventually stop functioning. A cabin filter prevents this from happening.

If you don't replace your cabin air filter on a regular basis, the accumulated dust and debris in the filter will clog the filter and reduce the volume of air flow to the blower motor, thus making the motor work harder than it is designed to do.

In both cases, it is better to replace your cabin air filter regularly. Otherwise, your blower motor eventually fails and you lose A/C and heat. To replace the blower motor, the techs at a dealership will usually have to tear apart the dash to replace the motor. You will run $300-$500 in parts and labor to replace that blower motor.

TLDR; don't be a fking moron, replace your filters. If you can afford to buy the car, you can afford to buy the filters.

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