Save Yourself $135…

… and change your own cabin air filter. Previously advertised to me at the dealership as a $165 service, the cabin air filter is predictably just a piece of cloth located conveniently close to the actual cabin.  You can actually get to this thing from inside the car, which I found re-assuring.

For various related reasons, I no longer have the dealership service my car, and now patronize a really laid-back Subaru garage.  When my cabin air did start smelling like a cheesy gym sock a couple weeks ago, I got this new garage to sell me a cabin air filter (without trying to put it in themselves).  $30 for the filter, just like I saw on Amazon.  Can you imagine the dealership wanted $135 just for the labor?  For something theoretically behind the glove box?  Even at the standard $75/hour rate for auto mechanics I have used before, this equates to a 1.8 hour service.

Well it took me about 25 minutes, from searching “install cabin air filter 2011 subaru impreza” on Youtube to dumping all the junk back into the glove box.  That’s not to say that it was a pretty thing!  It was not.  Fingernails were smashed, epithets were hurled, plastic was mangled.  But that is the same way it went in the educational Youtube video.  Apparently Subaru did not keep in mind the cabin air filter maintenance when designing the glove box set up.

Basically you detach the glove box door strut, then pry the door tabs free with a screwdriver so the door can go past the stopper.  Then the cabin air filter is fully accessible for plug and play replacement.  That’s it.  What is scary is thinking about someone else doing this very delicate procedure on my car, likely without any better-suited tools and in a big hurry.  The potential for damage is great, so I guess I would rather cause it myself.

Despite my almost constant obsession with doing things myself, I always had a “total dealership care” approach to my car’s maintenance.  I thought this approach would provide bullet-proof problem prevention.  But the arrogance of the local dealership undercut my enthusiasm for proprietary expertise.  Now that I go to a garage that doesn’t seem to care either way, I am going to try doing some of the maintenance myself.

So people, especially ladies, this is a call to check out the proposed maintenance list your mechanic provides you.  Consider the cost of labor, and whether you could do it yourself, before agreeing to anything.  You can always go back to the garage once you’ve done research.  You can even go back to the garage after trying and failing to do a job yourself, an option which my lack of shame renders totally acceptable.

On a related note – I am tired of the common double-standard of service that women receive in car repair.  A local chain oil-change place that Mr. Goodies finds low-hassle tried to sell me a new nut “whose threads are stripped.”  I asked to see the nut and had to show the mechanic that the thread is not stripped; then he relented.  Because I am a girl?  I don’t know.  I have heard different stories like this from other ladies I know.  So far my Subaru garage is not giving me this treatment.  But I think there is a lot of mumbo jumbo in car mechanic bills of service which should be reviewed by all savvy consumers.  To think I almost paid $165 for a $30 part that I got to put in myself in the fresh air while learning something new…

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2 thoughts on “Save Yourself $135…

    • Thanks! I am sure you could do this kind of thing too. You’d still need to leave your air conditioning job to the pros (and I am all about the 30-60-90k services). But I have just heard enough bogus-sounding service suggestions that I will be looking at everything closely from now on. I might still try to learn to do my own oil changes.

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