Archive for June, 2017|Monthly archive page

Meet the upgraded 2018 Durangos

Dodge has announced a number of upgrades for the 2018 Durango series, following the unveiling of the Durango SRT.

First, the Durango R/T’s appearance will be updated, with the SRT hood and fascia; this means the 5.7 Hemi-powered R/T will get a functional hood scoop with dual heat extractors, and a cold air ducting system, as well as LED fog lights. R/T buyers also get a standard 506-watt Beats nine-speaker stereo (available as an option on GT and Citadel).

The rear parking assist system, which beeps when an object is sensed behind the Durango — assuming it’s in reverse — will be augmented with front park assistance. The front-and-rear sensing system is standard on both R/T and SRT.

Buyers of the Durango GT can pay extra for the SRT hood — if they get the Blacktop or Brass Monkey package. The 2018 Durango GT will also be sweetened with a standard power liftgate, and Capri-and-suede bucket leather seats (also available as a standalone options).

All 2018 Dodge Durangos will have a standard backup camera, a new steering wheel, and a driver-oriented T-shifter with an AutoStick selector gate. Customers can opt for a leather-wrapped instrument panel, including contrasting stitching.

The 2018 Durango R/T will, late in the model run, be available in the famed B5 Blue paint, once reserved for the Durango SRT (and Dodge large cars). Dealers can order the 2018 Durango now, with deliveries expected in the third quarter of 2017; pricing will be announced later.

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Rumored Challenger Hellcat Widebody: it’s real

Today, Dodge revealed that a car long rumored on Allpar’s forums is indeed real: the 2018 Challenger SRT Hellcat will be offered with a widebody package which improves quarter mile and road course times, while giving the 707hp Mopar muscle car a menacing stance.

This is the same basic design as the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, with composite flares bolted onto unique sheet metal which allows for much bigger rubber under all four corners. To be exact, the Widebody Hellcat Challenger is fitted with 20 x 11-inch “Devil’s Rim” split spoke aluminum wheels wrapped in 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tires and this extra rubber allows the supercharged Challenger to corner better, launch harder and look meaner.

In addition to the flared body bits, the wider wheels and the huge tires, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody has a new electronic power steering (EPS) system – the first electronic steering system in the Hellcat Challenger – which works with the Drive Mode system. This high tech steering setup has selectable settings for Street, Sport, and Track, with varying levels of feedback for each.

Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars for Dodge, reported that the new car leveraged the effort put into the SRT Demon.

Just how much does the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody help? Well, the wider rear tires allow the wider Hellcat to launch significantly harder, leading to a 0-60 time of 3.4 seconds and quarter mile time of 10.9 seconds – 0.1 seconds quicker to 60 and 0.3 seconds quicker in the quarter mile than the original Hellcat Challenger.

Those quarter mile times will be more than enough to entice the average Mopar muscle car buyer who is looking to go drag racing, but Challenger fans who prefer tracks with turns will see improvements as well.

On a lateral skid pad, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody reaches 0.97g of grip, compared to 0.93g for the standard Hellcat Challenger. On an unspecified 1.7-mile road course, the improved steering capabilities and grip allowed the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody to be a full 2 seconds quicker per lap, beating a non-Widebody Hellcat Challenger by some 13 car lengths after one lap.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody has an MSRP of $72,590 with the 6-speed manual transmission, including gas guzzler tax and destination. The rest of the 2018 Challenger prices have not been announced, but the 2018 widebody package lists for $7,300 more than the 2017 Hellcat Challenger.

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Next-Gen 2018 Jeep Wrangler

The video actually shows two different four-door Wrangler Unlimited prototypes undergoing tests. The footage doesn’t reveal anything we don’t already know about the vehicle, but in a few of the shots its new LED headlamps and fender-mounted LED running lights can be clearly seen. Toward the end of the video, a prototype for the four-door Wrangler JT pickup truck is also pictured parked in an FCA lot.

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, which will likely make a debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, will introduce major changes to the storied Wrangler nameplate. The vehicle will retain its solid axles and removable doors, but will feature a more refined and upscale cabin and should be lighter thanks to an aluminum hood and doors. A number of engine options should also be on the table, with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine said to be joined by FCA’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine. Both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions will likely be on offer as well.

More information on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL should become available as its debut this fall approaches, but for now, you can see it testing in the video above.

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The minivan that just won’t die

The plan for Dodge was so simple and clear: it would be all muscle. The old people movers would be pushed onto Chrysler. The only thing standing in the way: Dodge’s two best sellers are front wheel drive people-movers.

The company has apparently been ambivalent, sometimes planning on Chrysler crossovers, sometimes planning on Dodge crossovers. At least the plan for the minivan was clear: the new, highly regarded, top-quality-ranked Chrysler Pacifica would become FCA’s sole minivan after September 1, 2017.

Now that, too, has changed.

The Dodge Caravan has sold roughly evenly with its Chrysler counterpart in recent years, except in Canada, where just about everyone buys the Dodge. Sergio Marchionne joked that sales chief Reid Bigland would keep the Caravan going forever if he could.

Numerous sources have told Allpar that there will be a 2019 Dodge Caravan after all, on the current “RT” body. The main reason for dropping the Dodge, other than brand clarity, boosting Pacifica sales, and reducing parts inventories, was a passenger-ejection safety standard that takes effect on September 1, 2017.

The changes should not be too costly, since the basic body and chassis aren’t affected; it’s mainly a matter of redesigned side airbags, different window glass, and possibly new seats. According to some, including Automotive News, implementing those changes is the reason why the plant is temporarily pausing Caravan production.

The pause seems only to affect minivans for the United States. According to the Windsor Star, quoting FCA Canada, Canadian and Mexican production is unaffected.

The 2018 Dodge Caravan will have its production launch in December, giving engineers and suppliers time to engineer and test changes and create necessary tooling and software. After that — yes, Virginia, there will be a 2019 Dodge Caravan.

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Ready for a little off-road inspiration? Take a look at the extreme trail riding photos and video from the 2017 Easter Jeep® Safari in Moab, Utah.

Remember, when it comes to the most difficult trails, the key is to stay calm and remain focused … and that’s a tall order when you’re tackling the inclines at Moab. Fortunately, the iconic Jeep Wrangler 4×4 is built for the challenge.

And no matter how hardcore your 4×4 credentials, a good spotter is essential when choosing the correct line and conquering the most daunting obstacles. See how the guides at the Easter Jeep Safari help to instill confidence and calm nerves in the most precarious situations.

After all that excitement on the trail, it’s important take a deep breath and reflect. And when it comes to watching the world go by, it doesn’t hurt to have the best seat in the house. Let’s sit back and enjoy the view from the Top of the World.

Can’t get enough of Moab? Check out the Jeep brand concept vehicles that showed their 4×4 prowess at the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari.

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Tips on How to Maintain Your New Car

One of the reassuring qualities of contemporary cars is that they need much less-frequent service to keep them running well. Changing the spark plugs, breaker points, and condenser used to be a seasonal exercise, and body rust was accepted as a normal if unfortunate hazard of aging. Now many spark plugs can go 100,000 miles between changes. Electronic ignition has done away with the points and condenser. Chassis, suspensions, and even some transmissions are lubed for life. And factory rust-through warranties typically run six years or longer. What’s more, reliability has improved significantly. The result is that most late-model cars and trucks should be able to go 200,000 miles with regular upkeep.

Here are a few simple, periodic checks and procedures you can do that will help you get there.

Check the Engine Oil

Do it regularly—monthly for a vehicle in good condition; more often if you notice an oil leak or find you need to add oil routinely. The car should be parked on level ground so you can get an accurate dipstick reading. Don’t overfill. And if you do have a leak, find and fix it soon.

Check Tire Air Pressure

Once a month and before any extended road trips, use an accurate tire-pressure gauge to check the inflation pressure in each tire, including the spare. Do this when the tires are cold (before the vehicle has been driven or after no more than a couple of miles of driving). Use the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer, not the maximum pressure embossed on the tire’s sidewall. The recommended pressure is usually found on a placard on a front doorjamb, in the glove compartment, or in the owner’s manual. Also be sure to inspect tires for abnormal or uneven wear, cuts, and any sidewall bulges you can see.

CR advises that digital tire-pressure gauges (which cost about $15 to $25) are probably the best bet overall because they will give an accurate reading or none at all. Many pencil-type gauges (typically $10 to $15) are good as well. Note that to check the pressure in a temporary spare tire, which is often 60 psi, you will need a gauge that goes higher than that—say from 0 up to 90 pounds. (See our tire buying advice and Ratings.)

Wash the Car

Try to wash the car every week, if you can. Wash the body and, if necessary, hose out the fender wells and undercarriage to remove dirt and road salt. It’s time to wax the finish when water beads become larger than a quarter. (Read “How to Wash Your Car” and check our car wax ratings.)

Other Checks at Each Oil Change

For normal driving, many automakers recommend changing the engine oil and filter every 7,500 miles or six months, whichever comes first. This is sufficient for the majority of motorists. For “severe” driving—with frequent, very cold starts and short trips, dusty conditions, or trailer towing—the change interval should be shortened to every 3,000 miles or three months. (Check your owner’s manual for the specific intervals recommended for your vehicle.) Special engines such as diesels and turbocharged engines may need more-frequent oil changes.

Check the Air Filter

Remove the air-filter element and hold it up to a strong light. If you don’t see light, replace it. Regardless, follow the recommended service intervals.

Check the Constant-Velocity-Joint Boots

On front-wheel-drive and some four-wheel-drive vehicles, examine these bellowslike rubber boots, also known as CV boots, on the drive axles. Immediately replace any that are cut, cracked, or leaking. If dirt contaminates the CV joint it can quickly lead to an expensive fix.

Inspect the Exhaust System

If you’re willing to make under-car inspections, check for rusted-through exhaust parts that need replacing. Also tighten loose clamps. Do this while the car is up on ramps. If a shop changes your oil, have them make these checks. Listen for changes in the exhaust sound while driving. It’s usually advisable to replace the entire exhaust system all at once rather than to repair sections at different times.

Look at the Brakes

For most people it makes sense to have a shop check and service the brakes. If you handle your own brake work, remove all wheels and examine the brake system. Replace excessively worn pads or linings, and have badly scored rotors or drums machined or replaced. The brakes should be checked at least twice per year; more often if you drive a lot of miles.

Check the Fluids

On many newer cars, the automatic transmission is sealed. On cars where it is not sealed, check the transmission dipstick with the engine warmed up and running (see the owner’s manual for details). Also check the power-steering-pump dipstick (it’s usually attached to the fluid-reservoir cap) and the level in the brake-fluid reservoir. If the brake-fluid level is low, top it up and have the system checked for leaks.

Clean the Radiator

Prevent overheating by removing debris with a soft brush and washing the outside of the radiator with a detergent solution.

Check the Battery

Inspect the battery’s terminals and cables to make sure they are securely attached, with no corrosion. If the battery has removable caps, check its fluid level every few months—especially in warmer climates. (See our car battery ratings and buying advice.)

Regular Maintenance For Every Two to Four Years

Drain and Flush the Cooling System

Considering the hassle of collecting and safely disposing of old antifreeze, you may want to leave this to a shop.

Change the Automatic-Transmission Fluid

Many models require that you replace the fluid and filter every 36,000 miles—sooner if the normally pink fluid takes on a brownish tint. With some cars the fluid and, if applicable, the filter can go 100,000 miles or more. With other late models, the transmission fluid never needs to be changed. Check your owner’s manual for this information.

Replace the Drive Belts and Hoses

Do this every two to three years, even if they don’t show any wear. If a belt becomes noisy, have it adjusted.

Change the Timing Belt

If your vehicle has a belt instead of a chain, stick to the manufacturer’s recommended replacement interval—usually every 60,000 to 80,000 miles. Check the owner’s manual or consult a dealer. Failure to change the timing belt can result in a very expensive engine repair if the belt should break.

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Ally Asks: Should You Buy or Lease a New Car?

Getting a new car is one of the biggest purchasing decisions many people make. But figuring out whether you should buy or lease can be tricky, and your decision can affect your budget and savings for years.

About 80 percent of auto consumers pay cash or finance their new cars with loans, according to Newsday. That means a fifth of consumers forgo ownership entirely to take advantage of the benefits of leasing. If you’re looking to get a new car, it’s important to figure out which financing approach is right for you and your budget.

Buying vs. Leasing: What’s the Difference?

When you buy a vehicle, you’re either paying cash or financing the cost with a loan. Most buyers make an initial down payment and then a monthly payment including interest. Eventually buyers get complete ownership of their vehicles, which are titled in their name. There are no limits on mileage or how long the buyer keeps the car. The owner can choose what to repair and when, and can sell or trade the vehicle for its depreciated resale or trade value to help defray the cost of purchasing the next car.

When you lease a vehicle, you pay only a portion of the vehicle’s cost. Depending on your financing plan, you may have the option of not making a down payment. Typically, you pay for your use of the car every month, plus an interest rate. There are usually limits to how many miles you drive, and you typically have to make agreed-upon repairs under the terms of the lease. At the end of the lease – usually two or three years – you can decide to buy the car or get a new one.

Which Costs More?

Although monthly payments tend to be lower on a leased car than a purchased car, most experts agree that leasing ultimately costs more. When you buy a car, you eventually pay it off – and at that point, you can keep driving it as long as you’d like without monthly financing payments. And you can sell or trade it to raise cash for a new car or other expense.

But if you lease a car, you’ll have to either buy it or lease another once the agreement ends. (And if you end the lease before the full term, you may have to pay a large penalty.) Either way, you usually end up paying more than you would have if you had bought the car and continued to use it for years afterward.

Which Option is Best?

In deciding whether to lease or buy, costs aren’t all you need to think about – consider your personal priorities, too. Leasing may make sense if you want a new car with the latest features every two or three years, want lower monthly payments and plan to keep your mileage low. Buying may be right for you if the higher monthly payments are worth owning your car, in addition to being able to drive unlimited miles, customize your car and keep it for many years.

And before you decide, it’s a good idea to research the differences. This article on looks at the financial differences, and and offer auto-financing calculators that can help you figure out your costs of each payment method over the coming years.

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6 Essential Summer Car Care Tips

Road trip season is almost here! Make sure your vehicle is ready to handle some sun-drenched driving. Summer’s high temperatures, flurries of dust and dirt, and the occasional rain can all take a toll on your vehicle’s most important systems. With these essential services, though, you can better prepare your car and help it run smoothly and safely through summer and into fall. Ready to get started?

Tip #1: Get your oil and oil filter changed. This is particularly important if your last oil change was awhile ago, because intense weather conditions of any kind (wet, hot, or cold) can put extra demands on your oil and oil filter. Your oil works to keep your engine parts lubricated while the filter works to capture harmful debris, dirt, and metal fragments that have finagled their way into the oil system. A clean filter means more material gets picked up. More material getting picked up means cleaner oil. Cleaner oil means a healthier, happier engine!

Tip #2: Double-check your fluid levels. Seasonal weather changes can lead to low transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and even windshield wiper fluid, so check them all! Coolant fluid, in particular, is an especially important one to keep an eye before the heat of the season. According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, the greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. If you’re not comfortable performing these checks on your own, stop by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care and let one of our technicians take a look. (Fun fact: our oil change service includes a free top-off of many fluids!)

Tip #3: Check and monitor your tire pressure. Between hitting hidden potholes and dealing with difficult road conditions, your tires deserve a good check-up. The truth is, tires lose or gain pressure daily depending on the outside temperature. In cool weather, for example, a tire will typically lose one or two pounds of air per month. Make sure your tires (including your spare!) are properly inflated before hitting the road for a big summer road trip, because tires with low air pressure tend to wear out much more quickly. Get started by finding your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure.

Pro-Tip: If safety and convenience are top concerns for you this summer, check out the DriveGuard tire. DriveGuard tires let you drive up to 50 miles at a max speed of 50 mph after a puncture. That means more time to reach a safer place to stop, or more time to simply make it to grandma’s driveway.

Tip #4: Evaluate your alignment. If your car pulls to one side, your steering wheel vibrates, or your steering wheel isn’t centered when you’re driving straight, get your vehicle’s alignment checked out. Alignment can be thrown off by general wear and tear, as well as run-ins with rough roads, potholes, and curbs. Proper alignment can help extend the life of your tires, make for a smoother ride, and even save you a few bucks on gas. A quick check-up can let you know if your car is due for an alignment service.

Tip #5: Test your battery. “Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, which can leave you stranded without warning,” says Steve Fox, Director of Automotive Services for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Most people don’t realize that heat is the number one cause of battery failure and reduced battery life,” he adds.

Use our Virtual Battery Tester to get a general idea for when your battery might fail, or stop by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care location for a free battery test. Our technicians will be able to tell you the temperature at which your battery could fail. An easy and free battery test could ensure you won’t be caught off guard by a car that won’t start this summer.

Tip #6: Get your brakes inspected. At the end of the day, is there anything more important than good brakes in your vehicle? Stop-and-go traffic, long holiday road trips, and inclement conditions may have done a number on your brakes. Whether your brakes are making eerie noises or demanding extra pressure, it’s may be time for some fine tuning.

You can’t always guarantee that life will run smoothly, but you can do your best to make sure that your car does. Basic maintenance services, like oil changes, are the perfect place to start before summer. Firestone Complete Auto Care’s full-service oil change includes an oil and oil filter replacement, a top-off of important fluids, and a courtesy 19-point inspection. If there’s something “off” with your brakes, battery, alignment, or tire pressure, there’s a good chance our technicians will catch it during the courtesy inspection and bring it to your attention. Summer car care couldn’t be more convenient! Schedule an appointment online today. We’re open late and on weekends, just for you!

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What to Do When Your Engine Overheats

Things can get out of control quickly if you don’t know what to do when your vehicle’s temperature rises.

Many modern automobiles are so refined that you can hardly hear their engines anymore, but don’t be lulled into complacency—there’s still a combustion cycle taking place under the hood, and catastrophic overheating remains a remote possibility. That’s why you should periodically check your vehicle’s temperature gauge while driving. Every gauge has a normal stopping point once the engine is warmed up; it’s usually a bit below the midpoint line between cold and hot. It’s probably not a doomsday scenario for your engine if your gauge ever reads anywhere above normal, but it could easily become one if you don’t take prompt action. Here are the steps you’ll need to know.

Step 1: Check for steam

The one surefire indication that you’ve really got an overheating engine is that old B-movie standby: plumes of steam pouring out before your eyes. Except it likely won’t be that dramatic, so take a closer look. If you see any steam at all, proceed to Step 3 posthaste lest you meet the same fiery demise as many a B-movie villain. Steam is bad. Take it seriously.

Step 2: Turn off your A/C, Turn on your heater

If you’re the cautious type, skip directly to Step 3—but bear in mind that older engines in particular are prone to mild overheating on hot days, especially when the air conditioner has been running. There’s nothing out of the ordinary in this case; you just need to give your engine a breather. So if you don’t see any steam, you can turn off the A/C and see if that calms things down. If it doesn’t, put your heater on full-blast, which will transfer heat away from the engine. Of course, it will also transfer heat toward you, but your comfort is a lesser priority than the engine’s at this point. If these measures don’t work in short order, then you’ve definitely got a problem, and you need to stop driving and figure it out.

Step 3: Pull over and turn off your engine

When you find a safe place to stop, get there and kill the engine immediately. Do not idle the engine while you’re collecting your thoughts. Engines have to work harder to keep cool at idle than at cruising speed, and the last thing you want to do is add stress to a potentially overheating engine. So turn it off, and then take that breath. NOTE: If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, and you believe your engine is suffering from more than just temporary overload, now is the time to call for roadside assistance. The remaining steps will require you to get your hands dirty.

Step 4: Pop the hood

WARNING: Very likely it’s hotter than usual under there. You’ll get a feel for this once you’ve pulled the hood release and the hood is slightly ajar. If the heat strikes you as potentially dangerous—as it may well be—then let the engine cool down before proceeding. Only open the hood fully when you are confident that it’s safe to do so.

Step 5: Check coolant levels

Your engine should have a coolant reservoir in the vicinity of the radiator (see your owner’s manual for the exact location). This is usually made of plastic and thus unlikely to be dangerously hot. Check the coolant level in this reservoir. If it’s normal, you’re in luck—chances are you’ve just got a malfunctioning temperature gauge. As long as there are no other signs of overheating, you can restart the engine and proceed with caution. If it’s low or empty, however, there’s probably a coolant leak somewhere. Calling for roadside assistance is strongly advised here, though the more mechanically inclined might first inspect the radiator hoses for loose clamps and such.
Things can get out of control quickly if you don’t know what to do when your vehicle’s temperature rises.

Step 6: If you need to keep driving…

Wait until you’re certain that the engine is cool, protect your hand with a thick glove or rag, and twist off the radiator cap. Coolant is normally visible just below where the cap sits (your owner’s manual will have the details), but if your engine’s overheating, the coolant in your radiator should be visibly depleted. Be sure to refill both the radiator and the reservoir, using coolant or—if necessary—water. This should bring the temperature down once you’re underway, but remember, you’ve got a serious leak somewhere, so be vigilant. If the temperature starts rising again, you’ll have to pull over and repeat the process. Incidentally, by no means should you view this as a long-term solution—your engine needs professional help, so get your mechanic on the job as soon as you can.

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Car Cleaning Tips: How to Get and Keep Your Car Clean

Many of us live a significant portion of our lives in the car, so we might as well consider it a mobile living room. Except it’s a living room that comes in constant contact with the germs and grit of the outside world. When considered as an extension of your home, you’d hope it would benefit from the same cleaning routine. But, we know this isn’t always the case.

If it’s been a while since the inside of car has seen a vacuum, there is evidence to suggest that your car may be carrying some unwanted passengers – of the microscopic variety. Freshen up the inside of your ride by trying out some of our clean-car tips below.

Conquer clutter.

It’s difficult to do a deep-clean of your vehicle with a vacuum and scrub brush when clutter is in the way. Clutter not only gives dirt and bacteria more surfaces to live on, but it can be distracting to drivers. And stressful. Removing excess clutter is the very first step to taking pride in your ride.

Resist the road snacks.

We can all appreciate the value of a good car snack. And with your eyes on the road, you may not notice just how many crumbs are getting lost in your car. These crumbs, and yesterday’s half-finished coffee (it’s ok, you don’t have to admit it), fuel the growth of bacteria. If you can’t resist the road snacks, try to minimize the evidence. Remove food wrappers or trash right away, make sure drink containers are spill-proof, and vacuum in the deep cracks and crevices with a thin, telescoping vacuum attachment.

Keep your child seats clean.

Fun fact: those iconic fish-shaped crackers are the number one item found in children’s car seats. On a smaller scale, car seats also carry an average of 100 different types of microscopic passengers. Always check with the car seat manufacturer prior to cleaning, and pick a time when it won’t be needed for 12-24 hours, so it has ample time to dry. Take a picture of the set-up before removing from your vehicle, and rely on the manufacturer’s guide and your picture to be sure the car seat is re-installed correctly.

Let the fresh air in.

When your cabin air filter is dirty or clogged, it actually makes the air quality inside your car worse than the air outside. A dirty filter traps dust, pollen, and exhaust fumes inside your vehicle. What’s more, over time a restricted air filter can cause issues with the vehicle’s HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) system. Ask your dealership or take a look at your owner’s manual to determine how often your cabin air filter should be replaced. Most should function well for 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Make an appointment with your dealership to get a new filter installed.