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September 13, 2021

Changing my car's cabin air filter was a huge thrash

"Thrash" is a term of art used in medicine among doctors and nurses: civilians rarely hear it uttered.

It refers to a procedure or patient requiring major effort and unusual measures.

But I digress.

Watch the video up top — from a company that sells non-genuine Mercedes replacement cabin air filters for about half the price ($18.24) of the real thing — demonstrating how to change my car's cabin air filter.

It looks like a doddle.

Screen Shot 2021-09-10 at 10.30.32 AM

What it doesn't tell you is that you need a Torx T20 5mm screwdriver (above and below)

Screen Shot 2021-09-10 at 10.30.38 AM

to unscrew the cover of the the filter compartment.

Fortunately for me, before undertaking my auto mechanic-wanna-be adventure, I watched another video from another company also selling non-genuine cabin air filters which mentioned in the narration that a Torx screwdriver rather than the usual slot or Phillips variety was required.

That was OK, actually, as it let me put off the upcoming effort for two days until the screwdriver arrived from Amazon.

From a Mercedes dealer's website:

The cabin air filter in your Mercedes-Benz C300 are designed to clean the air as it moves through your heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system.

The cabin air filter removes allergens and pollutants such as pollen, smog, mold, dust, and hazardous fumes.

Our factory-trained technicians can change your cabin air filter in less than 30 minutes.

Seeing as my dealer charges $139.99/hour — or any part of an hour — for labor, that's not trivial.

Plus, what I paid for the part was undoubtedly much less than the dealer would charge: I'm thinking at least twice what I paid online — $44.59 ($38.59 + $6 delivery), so around $225-$250 total plus the inconvenience of taking the car in and waiting around.

No doubt the cars in the video and at the dealer are up on lifts, such that there's no need to contort your upside-down body in a tight dark space with a zillion wires and protuberances in your face, as was the case for my maintenance effort.

Nevertheless, I persisted... and my new filter is in place.

From the Mercedes service manual:

You should replace your cabin air filter every 10,000 miles in extreme conditions and every 15,000-30,000 miles in regular driving conditions.

I bought my 2010 car in 2013, no doubt after it was returned to the dealer following a three-year lease.

It had 44,000 miles on it then.

Was the original cabin air filter in place, or had it been changed per Mercedes' recommendation?

No way of knowing.

Did the dealer put in a new filter before cleaning up the car and putting it back out on the lot for sale?

When I bought it, it was billed as a "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicle by the dealer.

Though I didn't read the fine print back then about exactly what that meant, I wouldn't be surprised if indeed the cabin air filter was among the things updated pre-sale.

Again, no way of knowing.

The odometer now reads 59,000 miles (I've put 15,000 miles on it in eight years) and I'm mos def not driving in extreme conditions, so the recommendation to change the filter falls right into where I am.

The car runs perfectly and I see no need to ever buy another.

Tell you what: I wouldn't be surprised if the filter I removed (below)


was the original from 2010.

Tapping it makes clouds of dirt and dust explode into the air.

One more thing: If you're gonna go to the trouble and pain of doing car stuff yourself, do yourself a favor and get genuine parts, which won't complicate things by not fitting exactly right etc.

That way, when you're sweating and swearing and exhausted and frustrated, at least you'll know it's because you're a FAIL — not the parts.

September 13, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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