K&N Cabin Air Filter Install and Review


photography by: the author

Replacing an Often Overlooked Maintenance Item with the Help of K&N Filters

With so much focus on the drivetrain, suspension, brakes and the rolling stock, many of us tend to completely overlook the cabin filter. Changing the cabin air filter is not something that has really ever occurred to most of us, including your author. Before I bought my Tahoe, I had owned a few SUVs and trucks before, but never for long enough to even worry about the cabin air filter. I’m a bit of a habitual car buyer and seller when it comes to daily drivers. I’ve owned my Formula for 12 years, but that doesn’t even have a cabin air filter. So when I was asked if I wanted to change the one in the Tahoe with a K&N reusable filter, my reaction was, ‘does it even have a cabin air filter?’ As it turns out, it did, so I was all for it.

The K&N reusable cabin air filter offers all of the standard cabin air filter characteristics, like controlling odor, clearing the incoming air into the cabin, capturing mold, pollen, etc. It’s also designed for reuse, and the design is a lot more ‘high-tech’ than their paper filter counterparts. I recognized the design right away when I opened the box to check it out. It looks exactly like the reusable air filters I’ve used from K&N in both of my vehicles in the past, so I was happy about the familiar design.


For my 2001 Tahoe 5.3L, there are two cabin air filters to change, they’re basically stacked. I’m not exactly sure why there isn’t just one big air filter, but this is the design GM went with, so who am I to argue? To get to the air filters, it’s really simple.



The first step is taking the under dash panel off. Apparently at some point, someone put a different size bolt in one of the holes on mine, I guess it’s been off before for some reason. That reason was clearly not to change the cabin air filter, you’ll see why I say that in a minute.



For mine, I ended up using a 7mm socket for the original bolts, and 6mm to remove the underdash.



The 7mm socket will also need to be used for removing the bracket that holds the filters into place, so go ahead and remove that too.



After taking off the bracket, remove the first filter, then the second one hiding up top.



Some pretty nasty stuff was engulfed in our Tahoe’s filter, elements that aren’t even indigenous to my neck of the woods. In other words, t’s probably never been changed.



Once we got over the initial shocks of the junk that fell out with the filters, I vacuumed up the mess, and installed  the new K&N filters in place,, put the bracket back on, and bolted the kick panel back in. In total, it took about five minutes to change it out.

Right afterwards, I had to run an errand and immediately noticed the difference in the air conditioner temperature. I reside in Atlanta, and we’ve been in the high-90s for a while now — so I’ve had the A/C fan setting on “5” since April. After I changed the cabin air filter to the K&N unit, the air was ice cold, and eventually I had to turn it off to thaw out for a few minutes.99-6000

After driving around for a few days with the new filters installed, I’ve noticed my allergies (which are habitually horrible) have gotten a ton better — that’s one thing I did not expect. Apparently breathing in all that junk from the old filter wasn’t great for my respiratory system. Who knew?

That being said, in about 12,000 miles, or 12-months, I’m going to have to clean these with a special cabin air filter kit. I assumed it would be the same as the oiling kit for the intake air filters, but that’s not the case, these aren’t oiled. The cleaner kit (PN 99-600) consists of a cleaner and a refresher spray, seems pretty easy!

All-in-all, I’d say the K&N cabin filter is totally worth the investment. The removal and installation were something anyone can do, and you should be changing your cabin air filter during regular intervals, anyway. My A/C is now ice cold, and the air quality is clearly so much better now. I would definitely recommend the K&N reusable cabin air filters to anyone with a cabin air filter equipped vehicle!

Source :

Share this post