Change cabin filters to avoid "air filter flu"

VW Commercial Vehicles says 25% of commercial vans are using dirty filters

Published: October 7, 2018, 10:30 PM
Updated: September 7, 2020, 8:49 PM

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Automakers are becoming increasingly more sensitive to the health and well-being of people inside and outside a vehicle, and one of the areas in which big strides have been made over the past decades is cabin filtration, but Volkswagen is warning things may not be as fresh as they seem.

UK records show that the summer of 2018 registered a 12-year high for pollen counts, and though many cabin filters can filter out pollen, dust and bacteria, the trapping of the tiny particles also clogs up a filter and renders it less effective over time, subjecting occupants to what the company calls “air filter flu” as more harmful particles can’t be filtered out.

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Health authorities, such as NHS England, advise equipping vehicle air ventilation with pollen filters, and changing them at regular intervals.

“We advised van owners before the summer to replace old air filters to reduce hay fever suffering and it’s just as important to replace blocked filters ahead of winter, especially after a record year for pollen,” says Trevor Hodgson-Phillips, head of service and parts for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. “This is an example of quick and low-cost maintenance that helps to keep the driver and the van on the road.”

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Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is particularly interested in the 25% of its van users the company says are running with dirty filters (relatively inexpensive, easily-replaced upkeep items). Its vans are equipped with multi-stage filters — the first layer blocks out large larger dust and soot particles, while a second layer blocks out the myriad tiny pollen and fungus spores that can lead to further health problems if they lodge in people’s lungs. A charcoal micro-filter reduces odours and gaseous pollutants, and helps reduce grime build-up on the inside of window glass.

Is COVID-19 airborne? Find out in our updated article on cabin air filters.

With drivers getting their vehicles ready for winter, the company recommends making a cabin-filter replacement part of the fall tune-up to keep clean air flowing into the cabin and ensure good visibility out.