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Is this normal for an auto mechanic?
Old 11-17-2007, 05:41 PM   #1
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Is this normal for an auto mechanic?

Just went in for an oil change at a chain automotive store. Asked how long it would take, they said 1 hour. I said sure, since I knew we would go get lunch in the meantime.

Wife and 11 month old in tow.

When we come back, they have our cabin air filter on the counter (to show us how bad it is).

Do they normally check the cabin air filter during an oil change?

Reason I ask is, apparently to replace it they said they have to go through the glove compartment. I'm not knowledgeable enough with cars to know if they could "see" it needed to be replaced when the hood went up, or if they had to go through the glove compartment to find out.

Anyway, it just seems odd that during a routine oil filter they would go through the effort of taking the cabin air filter out and putting it on the counter.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:49 PM   #2
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Pretty much SOP at this point to yank out every single filter in the car and show it to you. Last time I went to Jiffyripyouoff they had my cabin filter, my air filter and one of my wiper blades off, assuring me that failure to replace all of them would result in imminent death. Every one of them was just fine and didnt need replacing for a good 10-12000 more miles.

The cabin filter in the majority of cars is located behind the glove compartment and cant be seen without opening the glove compartment and taking it out. Some volkswagens have it behind a panel under the hood near the windshield. I'm sure other cars that I havent seen have it in other places, but the glovebox location is becoming quite standard.

The reasoning is simple. They're going to charge you $25-35 for a filter that costs $8 at the parts store and goes in with a minimum of effort. The oil change is a loss leader. The other $50 worth of stuff they replace that was probably still serviceable is the real profit.

I'm surprised they didnt have you changing your tranny fluid, axle fluids, brake fluid, adenoids and tonsils while they were in there.
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Peaceful_Warrior View Post
J

Do they normally check the cabin air filter during an oil change?

Thoughts?
Not uncommon here. They want to sell you a new one. If you bought, you'll notice they aren't cheap.
Here in Canada (at least) most new cars are not equipped with these filters but the place to put them is there in the car and they cost about $35. May or may not be worth it.
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:59 PM   #4
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I'm surprised they didnt have you changing your tranny fluid, axle fluids, brake fluid, adenoids and tonsils while they were in there.
Thanks for the info. That reinforces what I seemed to pickup on, but didn't have the knowledge.

They actually they did recommend some other stuff, but I denied and asked for estimates. He seemed adamant about the cabin air filter since he said it probably hasn't been replaced since the car was bought (2001).

Considering he was right, and we've been questioning the air in the cabin for a few months now... and the filter looked like it had been through hell and back, we decided to do that.

But I just wanted to know what the expectation here was, since I've never had this kind of experience with other oil changes.
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:10 PM   #5
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The cabin filter in the majority of cars is located behind the glove compartment and cant be seen without opening the glove compartment and taking it out. ...The reasoning is simple. They're going to charge you $25-35 for a filter that costs $8 at the parts store and goes in with a minimum of effort. .....
Changed my BMW 525it cabin filter. Once. I'd rather change the clutch on a '69 VW Bug any day. Dunno how simple Peaceful's is to do since we don't know what he drives.
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:12 PM   #6
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:13 PM   #7
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If it was 6+ years old you probably did need a new one.

I've had pretty good luck yanking them out every couple of years and vacuuming them off. They're not that tough to remove.

Saturday Mechanic: Replacing Your Cabin Air Filter - Popular Mechanics
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:15 PM   #8
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Agree with the other posters - they are trying to make an extra buck. You can make your own cabin filter from a standard high quality home furnace filter, if you are resourceful. This may be in there with straining shards of glass from the broken peanut butter jar, but the prices for these filters is pretty unwarranted.
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:16 PM   #9
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Just trying to upsell you. If it was dirty, I tell them I already have one at home, which I usually do.
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:18 PM   #10
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Changed my BMW 525it cabin filter. Once. I'd rather change the clutch on a '69 VW Bug any day. Dunno how simple Peaceful's is to do since we don't know what he drives.
Nothing in a BMW is easy to do. I *hated* doing work on mine. I wasnt sure if they employed a team of people to determine the most complicated maintenance strategy prior to general vehicle engineering or it just fell together that way.

I wonder how many guys they employ to sharpen all the metal parts around things you need to put your hands into.

My fondest recollection was replacing the fuel pump. Normally this is a pretty straightforward job on an american or japanese car. The BMW service manual started "Remove exhaust system. Remove drive shaft. Remove fuel tank.".

I removed the back seat and cut a hole in the sheet metal under it. Carefully.
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:27 PM   #11
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One other note:

You are under no obligation to pay them the "labor" for pulling that filter if you choose not to replace it at their exorbitant prices, provided you did sign a blank service order. Always initial the entries on your orders to indicate authorized services.
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:29 PM   #12
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The cabin filter in the majority of cars is located behind the glove compartment and cant be seen without opening the glove compartment and taking it out. Some volkswagens have it behind a panel under the hood near the windshield. I'm sure other cars that I havent seen have it in other places, but the glovebox location is becoming quite standard.
Cars have cabin air filters? Hunh. Do any of you guys ever, gee, I dunno, roll down your windows?!?

Now I'll have to see whether those filters are in 1997 Nissan Altimas or 1994 Ford Tauruses...
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:51 PM   #13
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Dont you use the defros....oh...yeah....probably not...
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:18 PM   #14
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When we bought our used 2003 Impala in 2004, it had been a daily rental with ~30 000 km.

Before I took delivery I asked them to change the cabin filter and give me the old one. It was full of all kinds of crud and would not have been replaced unless I had asked.

At 60 000 km I had it changed again at my request. Same amount of crap, and I would definitely not just vacuum and reinstall.

About 30 000 km (18 000 miles) would be my recommendation.
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:31 PM   #15
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I had to ask DH what a cabin filter was. Apparently they are on "newer" cars (2000 or so) and that rules out any car I have ever driven, except our van (2001) which DH mostly drives. He has changed it in the van once; about $18 at the autoparts store and went in through the glove box. At oil changes, they routinely ask him if he wants it changed - for $50, and he tells them he has already taken care of it

BTW, he appreciates the reminder and figures it is time to do again.
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:31 PM   #16
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Just like a house AC filter, you can get the super premium ones or the cheap ones that catch only leaves. A charcoal one is $15 for my Audi and took 5 minutes to replace. Replacing a cabin air filter in a Toyota took even shorter.

The same goes for the air filter. In most cars, it's simple to find and replace.
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Old 11-17-2007, 09:46 PM   #17
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Cars have cabin air filters? Hunh. Do any of you guys ever, gee, I dunno, roll down your windows?!?
I used to. However, I recently read that tests of air quality in major metro areas showed that significantly less harmful stuff was present in cars who rolled up windows and recirculated air, than those who rolled down the windows.

Not all of us live in Hawaii
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:02 PM   #18
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since the ragtop is hardly ever up i have no idea what a filter is for. and since the top is usually down, the glove box is always locked. and if a mechanic ever entered my glove box without my permission i'd be screaming unfiltered bloody hell.
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Old 11-17-2007, 11:49 PM   #19
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Cars have cabin air filters? Hunh. Do any of you guys ever, gee, I dunno, roll down your windows?!?
When it is 100+ out, I try not to although the power window motor just cut out but it is still under warranty.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:26 AM   #20
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...

Do they normally check the cabin air filter during an oil change?

Reason I ask is, apparently to replace it they said they have to go through the glove compartment. ...
Yes, it is a normal check done at fast oil change places. We ordered a replacement cabin filter over the internet and it was much cheaper than a replacement purchased locally. You remove the glove compartment on some Honda models to replace the cabin filters.
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