We’ve all experienced it at some point or another. You get into the car, start the engine, and out comes a musty odour from the air-conditioning system. Or, if you’re the sort to leave your vehicle’s air-conditioning system in its fresh air mode, you’ll be familiar with the scent of diesel fumes if a truck happens to be in traffic in front of you.

As is usually the case, just about everyone ignores the signs that the air being fed into the cabin isn’t as good as can be. That’s because for the first scenario, the foul odour goes away after a while, and in the second scenario, most just switch the mode to recirculation, and once the smell fades, you think no more of it.

The reality is that most of us tend to view the vehicle cabin as being safe from an air quality viewpoint, with the above anomalies just an occasional hiccup. After all, you’re sealed away from environmental hazards in the cabin, and surely the AC provides all the security you need, right? Well, no, because contaminants continue to be present, even if your nose can’t detect them.

The problem with using smell – and sight – to gauge air quality is far from foolproof, because air pollution is always present, an invisible and dangerous enemy. Nowhere is this false sense of security more apparent than in a place many of us spend a lot of time in daily.

Thankfully, there’s a safety barrier in place, and it’s called a cabin filter. All modern vehicles have one to help ensure the air you breathe in a vehicle cabin is free from contaminants. Its job is to filter dust particles, allergens, pollen and other harmful elements from the air as it goes through the vehicle’s ventilation ducts.

The problem is, we tend to forget it’s there. Given that it does so much, it’s no surprise to know that a cabin filter has a service life. As it accumulates contaminants, the filter will eventually clog, which then makes it harder for the vehicle’s air-conditioning system to perform at optimum. A clogged cabin filter will result in lackluster defrosting and defogging performance as well as reduced air-conditioning functionality.

This is when a replacement ensures that you continue to get clean air. When it’s time to replace the cabin filter in a vehicle, it’s worth taking some time to ensure picking what’s reliably effective, and not just leaving it to the mechanic to plonk in what’s available at their workshop.

That’s because it’s worth remembering that not all filters are created equal. Given that we inhale and exhale about seven to eight litres of air a minute on the average, having a cabin filter that provides the best filtration possible will mean a world of difference, and perceivably so.

Specifications provide a good indication of how well something performs, and an air cabin filter is no exception. Most off-the-shelf brands don’t tell you how well their filter traps particulates. American automotive aftermarket brand, WIX, does. The company, which is a brand of the MANN+HUMMEL group, has been supplying a full range of filters for passenger cars, commercial vehicles, as well as heavy vehicles and machinery for more than 80 years.

WIX cabin filters purify the air and filter out pollutants as fine as one micron from the air before it enters the vehicle’s cabin. That’s 70 times smaller than the thickness of a typical human hair. Aside from providing comfort to passengers, the cleaner air also protects those with allergies against the effects of respiratory irritation.

Besides trapping solid particles, WIX cabin filters also offer an activated carbon version, which can absorb unpleasant odours along with harmful gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone, preventing these from entering the cabin.

Every WIX cabin filter is equipped with Microban technology. It’s an antibacterial system applied as an odourless, non-toxic coating on the filter medium, preventing the growth of bacteria and mould on the filter. Microban not only effectively stops allergens, but completely eliminates them. The technology has been laboratory-tested and has undergone microbiological tests. It has also been certified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A WIX cabin filter requires no user input once it’s placed, and all you have to do is replace it every year or every 15,000 km to ensure you get clean, unimpeded air in your cabin continuously.

WIX makes a wide range of cabin air filters, many of which are compatible with popular vehicles in Malaysia such as the Toyota Vios and Perodua Bezza, so you’re sure to find a suitable unit for your ride. The brand also offers a full range of vehicle filters, including oil, air and fuel filters.

In Malaysia, you can purchase WIX filters from:

Click here to find out more about WIX cabin air filters, and here for Microban technology.

You can also learn more about the company from this video. And to get in touch with the brand in Malaysia, head over to the WIX Malaysia Facebook page.