A lot of car owners turn to aftermarket options to save a few bucks on car parts, even disposable ones like cabin air filters.
While you could get away with installing an aftermarket part on your car for cosmetic purposes, you would be better off sticking to OEM parts when it comes to performance and comfort, and that includes cabin air filters. An aftermarket cabin air filter might cost less upfront, but they don’t last as long, nor do they work as well as OEM filters.
It’s up to you to decide whether an aftermarket cabin air filter would be worth saving a few bucks. To help you reach an informed decision, let's go over the 3 most important factors to consider while shopping for a cabin air filter:
Image Credit: Pauls Travel Pictures
When it comes to cabin air filters, size is very important. Since the cabin air filter is placed in between the air vents and the fresh air supply, it serves as the only barrier between dirty air and clean air. In order for a cabin air filter to work effectively, it has to fit exactly without leaving any gaps. If there are gaps, then dirty air will make it through to the vents. When that happens, the air quality inside your vehicle's cabin is compromised. It can be especially bad if the air outside is dirty or if you have any allergy or respiratory issues.
OEM cabin air filters are direct fits. That means any genuine OEM cabin air filter that's made just for your GM model will fit perfectly and won't leave any gaps. You can't really say the same about aftermarket air filters. It's rare for an aftermarket air filter to be designed with OEM dimensions for your model. You'll likely end up with an air filter that's too big, too small, too thick, too thin, etc. You might have to modify an aftermarket air filter to get it to fit into your car correctly, and that can really mess up the filter's ability to purify the air coming into the cabin.
2. Filter Material
Image Credit: Mr10Alpine
The filter material is just as important as the size. In order for a cabin air filter to work effectively, the filter material has to be:
- Thick and durable
- Porous enough but not too porous
- Packed tight with deep pleats
When developing its air filters, GMC conducted extensive research to find the ideal filter material and pleat count. Aftermarket brands rarely spend as much time developing their cabin air filters. They tend to cut corners by getting cheap filter material. As a result, you'll have an air filter that's too restrictive or too porous (which allows dust, pollen, etc. into your cabin).
An Amazon user was not pleased with his aftermarket cabin air filter. "[My aftermarket air filter] is too restrictive," he wrote. "It really cuts down on the air flow. I think there is half the volume of air coming through the vents compared to other cabin filters that I used. I'm sure it catches a lot dust and particles but to me it's not worth it. I would rather have good air flow especially with the air conditioner."
OEM GMC air filters are packed tight with deep pleats, while aftermarket air filters usually have shallow pleats. The more pleats and the deeper they are, the more air filter material there is. You want as much material as possible.
3. Quality Guarantee
When it comes to quality, aftermarket air filters are hit and miss. With OEM filters, quality is always guaranteed. In fact, GMC backs all of its replacement parts (even air filters) with a 24 month unlimited mile warranty. Aftermarket parts are rarely covered by a warranty.
Are OEM Cabin Air Filters Always Expensive, Though?
If cost is the biggest reason you’re considering getting an aftermarket cabin air filter, you might be pleased to hear that you can save about $10-$15 on a genuine OEM cabin air filter on our website. In other words, you’ll score an OEM cabin air filter at aftermarket pricing. Look up your GM model in our catalog to find the right cabin air filter for your car (and see how much money you’ll save!)