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In an ICE car, air filters are used to purify what comes into your cabin from the engine. For EVs, however, these filters are to keep road dust and debris out of the cabin space. 

Tesla says specifically that the cabin air filters are there to “prevent pollen, industrial fallout, road dust, and other particles from entering the cabin through the vents.” 

What does a cabin air filter do? 

The cabin filter is the barrier between you (and your passengers) and the outside air. When driving, your filters are working hard to make sure road soot, pollutants, dust, and pollen aren’t entering your car, and in turn, your lungs. 

This filter is an essential part of your driving experience. They filter when cooling, heating, and ventilating your Tesla – so most of the time. 

Slide left and right to see 
Model 3/Y's OEM cotton filter (left)
vs a carbon activated HEPA filter (right).
Check out the activated charcoal
bits in the HEPA filter above.

How often do you replace cabin air filters?

Out of sight, out of mind? Not exactly. The dirty sock smell will let you know. 

Tesla recommends replacing these filters every 2 years – or 3 years if equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. However, if the smell starts to scare your passengers away, it’s most likely time to replace them. 

They might last 3 months, and they might last 2 years. It’s such a wide range because it all depends on how much you drive, where you drive, and what kind of filter you have.  

We have a DIY video guide below as well as a link to our filter kits for the Model 3/Y. The kits come with the tools you need to get the job done in less than an hour, including an evaporator cleaner to make it smell fresh again. 

Traditional vs HEPA filters 

Simply put, HEPA filters allow for more filtration because they can better trap smaller particles – even microscopic ones. They typically filter 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns, with no effect on the passage of air. 

Our HEPA filters feature an activated charcoal layer that makes sure to grab those airborne chemicals, gasses, fumes and odors. Every charcoal piece provides a good amount of surface area, making sure not to miss any contaminants. 

Why is replacing them in a timely manner so important? 

The cleaner and more high quality your filter is, the cleaner your air. A dirty filter won’t effectively block unsafe pollutants, and it’ll reduce your cabin’s air quality.

In addition, a clean filter makes sure your AC runs properly and efficiently. Once it starts getting old and clogged, it puts more strain on the system as it uses more energy to get the job done. So, if your range starts to decrease and you’re not sure why, don’t rule out the filters. 

Watch this video to learn how to replace your Tesla cabin air filters on a Model 3/Y: