DIY Cabin Air Filter Swap - 2011 Ford Mustang GT Long-Term Road Test

2011 Ford Mustang Long-Term Road Test

2011 Ford Mustang GT: DIY Cabin Air Filter Swap

February 16, 2012


Looking for a simple DIY car project for this coming President's Day weekend? Maybe you should change your cabin air filter. It's easy, in most cases, and cheap.

I popped into my local Autozone and grabbed one for our 2011 Ford Mustang GT when I bought the oil and filter for Scott's oil change. I don't remember what I paid, but I think it was $9.99; that's their online price, in any case. Prices vary from car to car, but it's usually never much.

Before you go anywhere you need to find out if your car has a cabin air filter in the first place. Your owner's manual will clear this up, and the maintenance schedule will spell out the service interval.

Once you're at the store the how-to instructions should be in the box. Ask the guy or gal at the counter to let you peek inside to see what you're in for before you buy.

Here's why: My 2003 Honda Odyssey's first cabin air filter (CAF) change required some cutting of metal because the dash assembly apparently needed extra beef to survive the handling and transportation phase before vehicle assembly at the plant. Once the van was built the extra bit of metal framework that spanned below the glove box no longer served any purpose but, being invisible, it was left in. But it blocked access to the cabin air filter because the air box was apparently installed before the dash.

I had to cut this surplus piece away with tin snips (pretty easy if you know what "lefts"and "rights"are and have some in your toolbox), but even this process was fully described in the instructions that came in the box with the new CAF I bought at Pep Boys. All of this happened behind the glove box door, which I first had to remove with two screws. Subsequent changes will never again require this metal cutting step, though.

But that's rare. That's close to the upper limit of difficulty. The CAF in our Ford Mustang is mud simple. All I needed was your basic Phillips screw driver and a couple minutes. Scott Jacobs barely had time to take these pictures; it was over that fast.

Here is how the process goes for a 2011 Ford Mustang GT. Your mileage may vary.

Step One (above): Open the hood and remove the two plastic expando-screws, or whatever they call them, found at the base of the cowl on the passenger side. Unscrew and remove the screw, squeeze the base from below and pull it out as well.


Step Two: Lift the edge of the plastic cowl you just loosened with your left hand, then pop the filter frame forward with your right hand and pull the filter and its holder out as one piece. No tools are necessary for any of this.


Step Three: Unclip the old filter after first memorizing how the pleats nested into the molded lip of the holder. Insert ther new filter in the same orientation.


Step Four: A bit more care is called for when slipping the new filter back in because you don't want to damage the fresh pleats by dragging them across that unyielding metal edge that sits just behind the battery box. Also, make sure that up is up, left is left, etc.


Step Five: The bottom lip of the holder practically seats itself if you started with the right orientation, which is good because it's dark down there. From there the upper tab nests into a matching recess and clicks home.

Step Six: Lay the cowl back down, reinsert the base half of the expando-screws, then spin the srcrews home.


Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,704 miles

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