I’ve been driving half my life now, being 32 years old and getting my license when I was 16.  One thing I’ve always been keen to do is vehicle maintenance, wanting at one time as a youth to be a mechanic.  What I can’t do myself is usually done by some of my very talented friends, and thankfully none hate me yet when I ask for help.  In my 16 years of driving I’ve also never bought a new car, always a higher mileage used one and the few weeks after purchase are usually followed by routine maintenance because I never trust the seller and want to ensure the car is running up to par.  This is all stuff most garage & driveway mechanics can do themselves.

  • Change oil & filter
  • Adjust tire pressure
  • Fill washer fluid
  • Check all bulbs
  • Check all belts for signs of cracks
  • Replace wiper blades
  • Replace air filter
  • …and on and on

Part of the new-to-me car ritual for myself and many others is the dawning of an air freshener to help cover the smell of rank ass, wet dog or cigarette smoke the previous owner left for you.  I’ve done it myself, standing in the auto parts store or mega box store’s auto section wondering what exactly black ice smells like, or if I am too manly for a clip-on-vent style freshener thus putting me back to the traditional tree section.  There’s a solution for all of this, but it’s in a different isle.

Modern car maintenance has pretty standard intervals depending on who made the car, they are usually around 30 or 50k miles with another big one around 80-100k miles.   Most people who buy used card rarely take them to the dealer for these interval checkups, opting to do the previously mentioned stuff themselves or from an independent, local mechanic, and that’s fine!  What is possibly the most missed item is the one that can not only help your car smell new and fresh again, it’s actually better for your health, and takes only five minutes to do.

The cabin air filter is similar to a home furnace filter and does just what the name implies, filters air from outside to within your car.  These should be done on most every car every 30k miles or so.  If you live in a damp and wet party of the country like the Pacific Northwest you may want to do this every year, regardless of miles, or even twice a year.  To help cut down on mold, mildew and other allergens.

Fram Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter
In my 16 years of driving I’ve always known about them but never actually did it, mostly out of pure laziness.  This all changed when I purchased a used car a few weeks ago and read online about a new cabin filter that had come out, the Fram Fresh Breeze, which has charcoal and baking soda in the filter to combat smell and filter 98% of pollutants.

They install in minutes with no tools for most cars and come with very good, very detailed instructions.  I actually found how to change mine by watching a short YouTube video clip, so if you’d prefer to see someone do it than reading a piece of paper, search there for your make and model.  When I changed mine the old filters looked look a squirrel had lived in there with leaves, dust, pollen and small sticks covering the filters.  It was gross to say the least, and that’s what the air I was breathing was passing over every single time I turned the heat on.  Two of my friends also bought used cars recently and I shot them a text message about the new filters I found, both got them and had very similar experiences, cabin air filters covered with debris, dust and just grossness.

Within the first few miles of driving after changing I could already tell it was working, the air just seemed cleaner, the previous owner of my car had been a heavy smoker.  The other thing I instantly noticed was the heat felt hotter, faster.  It’s been cold here lately and my car comes up to temperature pretty fast and the heat has been really good, but now it’s really nice and toasty.

The most amazing part of this whole ordeal is that none of my local auto parts stores stock the Fram Fresh Breeze filters.  Wal-Mart had them, of all places, but the biggest of big box stores was actually more expensive, to the tune of nearly $4 over ordering from Amazon.  Regardless if you’re mechanically inclined or not, you can do this simple routine maintenance item in five minutes or less for under $20.