5 Steps to Cleaner, Fresher Air #FRAMFresh - This West Coast Mommy
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5 Steps to Cleaner, Fresher Air #FRAMFresh

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5 steps to fresher, cleaner air

The temperatures are starting to drop quickly here on the West Coast. The winter duvet is on my bed, and I pulled out our warm coats a couple of weeks ago. I’m used to switching our wardrobes over with the seasons, but of course other things need seasonal maintenance too. Things like our home and my car. I’m in that car every single day driving the kids to and from school and karate class, commuting to work, and running errands, so I can’t skip or skimp on fall and winter maintenance. I’ve got precious cargo in there!

Normally hubby takes the car in to our mechanic for regular maintenance, but I’d really like to be more self-sufficient when it comes to these kinds of simple tasks (plus save a little money too), so this time I decided to try doing some of it myself.

I think most of us are already aware to check the basics like the battery, tire wear and pressure, oil, and brakes, but as I was going through the list of recommended fall/winter maintenance, something jumped out at me. I knew that cars had engine air filters, but I did not know my car also had a cabin air filter. And I’m sorry to say I didn’t know that it needed to be changed regularly!

FRAM air filters tutorial

Did you know that the air inside your vehicle can be up to six times dirtier than the air outside? Air quality can become an issue especially in winter when we keep the windows rolled up all the time. I also live near farm country, and that means that sometimes the air coming into my car is, shall we say, a little less than clean and fresh. Last week we drove past a local dairy farm, and the kids made sure I knew it smelled bad. Cue lots of moaning and complaining from the back seat. “Breathe through your mouth,” I said. I never knew that there was anything else we could do about it though!

Cabin air filters remove dust, dirt, and allergens coming in through the air conditioning and heating ventilation system to protect my family, keep the air systems running efficiently, and give us a more comfortable ride. FRAM Fresh Breeze filters are the only cabin air filters that also use Arm & Hammer baking soda and activated carbon to absorb and eliminate incoming odours too. Those are the filters that I want!

Canadian Tire has always been my go-to store for automotive products, so last weekend I went in to pick up new windshield wiper blades, antifreeze, and new air filters. This was the long aisle full of dozens and dozens of different FRAM air filters.

FRAM cabin & engine air filters

But which ones should I get for my car? I asked at the counter, and the clerk looked up my car by year and model and gave me the FRAM model numbers I needed. (You can also look up the model numbers online.) For ease of reference, cabin air filters come in the green box and engine air filters come in the orange. I found my filters on the shelf and headed for the checkout with the rest of my supplies.

Once I got home, I reviewed the step-by-step instructions in the box and decided I might as well start right away.

STEP ONE: On my Ford Escape, the cabin air filter is located under the hood, just below the windshield on the passenger side. I was just a little too short to reach the centremost screws so I did ask hubby to help me with this part. He removed the four screw caps and screws at the top of the passenger side  cowling, then opened the hood to take off the three screw clips on the bottom. After that, I was able to lift up the cowling to get at the cabin filter housing underneath.

remove cowling

STEP TWO: Pull out the cabin filter housing to expose the old cabin air filter.

cabin air filter housing

STEP THREE: Remove the old cabin air filter. I grabbed the shop vac and cleaned up the old leaves and dirt while I was in here.

old cabin air filter

STEP FOUR: Drop in the new air filter. I noticed that, unlike the old filter, the FRAM filter had a thin layer of foam all around the edges so it was extra adjustable for a good fit.

replace cabin air filter

STEP FIVE: Replace the cabin filter housing, put the cowling back on, and replace all the screws. That’s it!

Here’s a side by side of my old, dirty filter next to the new one. It’s not too bad, but I think it was definitely time to change it.

new vs old cabin air filters

Check out what I found inside that old filter! Yuck. I’m glad I have a new FRAM cabin air filter keeping the air clean and fresh for me and my kids!

dirty cabin filter

After replacing the cabin air filter, I was feeling pretty good about my car skills, and since the hood was already open, I decided to change my engine air filter too. FRAM recommends changing your cabin air filter and engine air filter at the same time. After all, they’re both subjected to the same air quality and driving conditions, so chances are if one needs changing the other will too. Follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicle owner’s manual.

FRAM air filters

Having a clean engine air filter is important because it improves airflow and keeps the road dirt and dust from getting in to the engine and reducing its performance or even damaging it. It’s like your engine’s first line of defense!

This one was even simpler than replacing the cabin air filter. All I had to do was unscrew the clamp on the hose and pop off the filter housing. I had to wiggle it a bit to get it off of the hose, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Once the housing was out of the way it was a few seconds’ work to take out the old filter and put the new FRAM engine air filter in. The whole thing seriously took only five or six minutes!

replace engine air filter

Can I just say eww?

new vs old engine air filters

To be honest, I did start out feeling kind of intimidated, but the whole thing ended up being easier than I thought it would be. After successfully changing my air filters, I’m feeling much more confident about doing other car maintenance tasks and winter prep myself. I got this!

Who does the car maintenance in your family? Have you ever changed your air filters?

Learn more about FRAM Fresh Breeze filters and how to incorporate regular air filter changes into your car maintenance routine.

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