Cabin Air Filter: which is best, OEM or aftermarket & how to DIY

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by KentuckyKen, May 21, 2018.

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  1. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    In trying to find the best cabin air filter (CAF) to buy, I came across a veritable mountain of opinions, arguments, and “my filter can beat up your filter” rants on several forums. Wow, if you ever want to start WWIII just get into a discussion on tires, oil, or filters.

    I was able to find one source that rigorously and scientifically tested several CAFs by passing diesel exhaust through them and measuring what contaminants got past and the sensory effects on human test subjects.
    In a nut shell, the CAFs with activated charcoal were significantly better at reducing the odor and contaminants from diesel exhaust. Link to article:

    Unfortunately, the filter companies understandably did not let their brands be known to the researchers. So all we can say is that filters w activated charcoal are much better than those without it, but not which one with charcoal is the best. If you don’t have allergies or don’t drive in cities with exhaust right in front of you, you could do without the charcoal but since I’ve found a very inexpensive source for them (below), I’m using them.

    Took out the Clarity’s CAF by pushing sides of glovebox inward and lowering. Then reach in and remove CAF housing cover by pressing in on the connectors on each end and pulling forward.
    The OEM filter is very nice w 30 pleats but has no activated charcoal. So it’s aftermarket with charcoal for me.

    Finding CAFs that fit the Clarity took some effort since once again the Clarity is too new to be on mfgs search engines.
    So I called my dealer’s parts dept (go to church w David there so I trust him) and found out that the Clarity CAF cross references with one that fits the 2018 Civic 4 door EX-T (or Ta/TL/TLa). Searching for that I found that the Fram Fresh Breeze CF11182 fits that. It has charcoal and baking soda. It’s $38 to $43 at auto parts stores but only $21 to $22 at Amazon and Walmart (WM temp out).
    Link to Amazon:

    Then I found on Amazon an EPAuto filter CP182 (cross references to the Fram CF11182) with charcoal for only $9. Same number of pleats as Fram (26ish) and w good reviews.
    Amazon Link:

    So if you’re a namebrand kind of person order the Fram for $21,save a lot over the OEM and get the benefit of the charcoal. I (being cheap) ordered 3 of the EPAuto ones for $26.91 to get free shipping and at that price, I won’t feel bad about changing them often. Will post on them when they come in.

    And interestingly, after only 3 months and very little fan usage, I found a lot of large objects like bugs, seeds and grass on the filter. Just tapped those out. Filter still looked white with no dust accumulation. Will change out later w charcoal EPAuto filter.
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  3. Kendalf

    Kendalf Active Member

    @KentuckyKen Thanks for the find! Did you happen to take a picture of the OEM Honda filter when you took it out? No biggie; sounds like an easy to reach filter.

    I've used the Fram filters on my wife's Camry for years. Works well. For whatever reason, the Camry filter is significantly cheaper than the Honda one. Currently listed for $16.92, but I've purchased them for $5.50 each when they had special sales/coupons. The Honda filter does look more robust, with deeper pleats (Fram filter for Honda on left, Toyota on right)
    Honda Filter.jpg Camry Filter.jpg
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  4. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Kendalf, here you are
    9A2540F5-3D1F-4051-9E92-E0C69ED9E44A.jpeg 545E0089-9E11-41B0-9898-0422D111FE2D.jpeg

    Also, I had a typo on original post. The Honda OEM in my car has 40 pleats not 30. It’s very well made and the first pix shows the way the pleats are held together. It look like 2 lines of hot melt glue were used. So multiplying the high number of pleats times the 1 1-8” thickness makes for a lot of surface area for low flow restriction. It’s definitely a quality filter and design.

    The filters with activated charcoal will necessarily have to have less pleats since the media is thicker. When new filters come in, I will give them the old Mark 1 Back of Hand Air Flow Test to see if there is a noticeable loss of blower output. If so, then they get returned and I try the Fram and if that’s restricted too, I go back to OEM and give up on the charcoal.
    I too have had good results wirh Fram CAFs w charcoal in other cars.
    Results to follow.

    I don’t think you can compare CAFs from other cars since the different mfgs call for different sizes and thicknesses for their respective models. So thickness/thinness is not representative of quality except within one model’s application. This also partially explains the difference in prices. Surface area (number of pleats) and flow rate are what’s really important since I suspect any decent quality CAF will have appropriately the same particle capture. I haven’t seen any reputable testing of CAFs for particle size capture like there is in house HVAC filters. Only thing we know for certain is that charcoal is great to have as long as it doesn’t restrict the airflow significantly.
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
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  5. Cash Traylor

    Cash Traylor Well-Known Member

    How did you like the aftermarket filters? I have bad allergies, and so does my daughter. I have been looking for enhanced cabin filtration solutions for a while. Charcoal or HEPA, anything... however, when it is hot it is hot and I like the high airflow. There are few MERV numbers published for CAF's (at least that I found) so what was your experience? I ordered one today, will see how it does and report back (not the FRAM, was a Upower, they were out of EPAuto).
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
  6. AaD

    AaD Member

    Thanks for posting this - this is what mine looked like when I took it out after finding a dead baby mouse on the passenger floor mat. Any leads on a mouse deterrent version?

    Attached Files:

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  8. czhang

    czhang New Member

    I got POTAUTO MAP 1044C (Carbon Activated):

    It fits perfectly and works well as far as I can tell (about the same price as the EPAuto CP 182, which is out of stock on Amazon at the moment).
  9. tdiman

    tdiman Member

    I literally just installed the potauto filter yesterday, fits well. Same size as my '17 crv.

    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
  10. Odobo

    Odobo Active Member

    Always get a HEPA filter if you suffer from allergies
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  11. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I replaced our cabin filter today. I ordered the Clarity part number on-line = $50! What an outrageous price for what looks like $2 worth of material. I appreciate having a HEPA cabin filter. We've dealt for about 6 weeks with ash and smoke from the Northern California fires. I also have lung problems. But that price is way too expensive.
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  13. Cash Traylor

    Cash Traylor Well-Known Member

    Ok, so the filter arrived, installed it. It was heavier than the factory. Noticed slightly reduced airflow. However, this is my initial impressions, I think this is a better filter for aromatics - I am not sure it is HEPA (not rated) but I am also not sure the OE is rated as HEPA (will need to do more research, but the OE definitely does not have charcoal/carbon in it). However, I noticed a change in cabin smell within a minute. So, I turned the car on and set to recirculate and went inside for a bit. Came back out, cabin smelled "clean". Ok, that's not a real challenge as it was on circulate so I put it on outside air and went to work. I work at the airport, was sitting in the car on the phone AC running (still hot out). Got out of the car and the best way to describe this experience is by reference. Any of you wear chemical filter masks for painting, pesticides, welding, etc? Ones that make HEPA ratings equivalent to a screen door? You are working away and then take the mask off and are practically knocked out by the fumes you were not breathing a moment ago? That is an extreme, I am not saying that is what this filter achieved or I would be buying stock in the company immediately - however, it was a similar experience. There were no odors in the cabin, I opened the door to that sweet smell of jet fuel and turbine exhaust, mixed with grass clippings and two cycle weedeater exhaust from the landscapers across the street. Ok, that was impressive actually! Wonder how long it can achieve that performance...

    So, I lost airflow, may be a big deal next July-August here (Dallas), but really think this is providing better overall filtration. Will have to see if I see an allergy improvement, but it is such a confined space and time in the car that impact on allergies is very difficult to quantify.

    Either way, I think I will see how long this one lasts before clogging up. But at 1/3 the price of the OE, I think I can replace them often and still come out ahead. Let's see if this filter can handle the smell of my kids shoes/socks after soccer practice and that will be the real acid test! :eek::)

    The filter I ordered.

    Best wishes,

  14. David A

    David A Guest

    Here's why you replace your own cabin/engine air filter...amongst many other things. Ad sent to me from local Honda dealer.

    Cabin & Engine Air Filter Replacement

    If you notice a stale smell in your vehicle even when the air isn't running, your cabin filter may need replacing.

    Your car’s cabin air filtration system is your front-line defense against air pollution. Just think about how many hours you sit in traffic surrounded by harmful vehicle exhaust gases. The longer you drive through these unavoidable pollutants, the dirtier your cabin air filters get. Over time, this reduces air flow through your air conditioner and causes you and your family to breathe dirty, polluted air.

    And no it's not the charcoal high end filter...just regular filter. complementary multi-point
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2018
  15. AaD

    AaD Member

    I had ours at the dealer yesterday- the one item on their checklist that came up yellow as "may need attention" was the cabin air filter. They quoted $97 - I had already replaced it myself the week before.
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  16. Cash Traylor

    Cash Traylor Well-Known Member

    So, had a funny event. The body plugs finally came in for my car that were not installed during delivery (discussed in other threads). So, took my car in for them and they did a complementary multipoint inspection. Apparently this included the air-filters for some reason. The CSR came and found me to let me know they recommended replacing the air filters because the cabin filter was dirty and they usually replace both at the same time. I politely said that the cabin filter was just replaced and was brand new and "no thanks." The CSR had the tech come out to tell me it was dirty and he was holding my filter. Look sir, see how this filter is gray and dirty, it should be white if clean...... See Kendalf's post with pictures concerning the Carbon/Charcoal impregnated filters - they are gray, when new - if they weren't that would actually be a concern.... Seems the tech had not seen that before. Just an interesting educational experience, and no, I did not laugh - just pointed this out to the tech and all was well.


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  17. qtpie

    qtpie Active Member

    Can someone post DIY instructions with pictures on how to replace cabin filter? Thanks.

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  18. David A

    David A Guest is a link to a youtube video which demonstrates the cabin air filter removal on 2017/18 Honda CR-V.

    The process is identical for the Clarity. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

    Good luck!
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  19. Kendalf

    Kendalf Active Member

    Those who replaced the cabin air filter yourself, did it look like this when you removed the cover?

    Almost seems like it's missing a filter tray or something, as the filter simply slots in with no support beneath. I've never seen a car that had this empty space under the filter. If that's the way it's supposed to be, I wonder if the Fuel Cell version has a different air cleaner element that fills the whole space. Otherwise, I can't imagine what the purpose of having this air gap is.
  20. leehinde

    leehinde Active Member

    Nice that this thread has become active again. After a week of living in Camp Fire smoke (which, however annoying and unhealthy, is nothing compared to what the residents face.), I think I want to upgrade my filter.
  21. AnthonyW

    AnthonyW Well-Known Member

    Yes it does look like that. It was exactly the same design in my 06 Honda Civic Hybrid also. Once the cover is back on the air gap is sealed off.

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  22. Kendalf

    Kendalf Active Member

  23. Dmiko

    Dmiko New Member

    Ordered this filter: model be-182. Excellent reviews and they have actual numbers, including 59.7% reduction in particles of 0.5 micron. Look at the pictures; the numbers are there.

    I bought all kinds of filters in the past and was unimpressed with Fram with baking soda and carbon. They reduced air flow, resulted in musty smell in months and didn't filter the diesel exhaust.

    Maybe not activated carbon but just carbon. With my previous car , Mercedes E class, OEM filter filtered out diesel exhaust amazingly well. So to end my rant here, let's hope this filter I ordered is unlike Fram and actually works in reducing pollutants. Reviews and numbers look very promising. They also claim longer life and the price is only $13.50

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