Commercial vehicle cabin air filters: save costs by tapping out rather than replacing

A properly functioning cabin air filter is particularly important for commercial vehicles. It prevents pollutants from entering the driver’s cabin—and commercial vehicles are often used in precisely those places where particularly high levels of dust are found, such as construction sites or quarries. The cabin air filter has to keep not only fine dust but even coarse dust out of the cab. This means that there are hardly any commercial vehicles in use today without a cabin air filter. It is typically installed upstream of the vehicle’s HVAC system, so that the outside air is cleaned as it is drawn in and forced into the cabin. If the filter is in optimal condition, this can be up to 150 litres of air per second. The tunnel effect created by the intake would cause the driver of a vehicle with no cabin air filter to be exposed to up to six times the concentration of pollutants that he or she would be outside. But the more dirt the filter captures, the faster its capacity will be used up. In an extremely dusty environment, it can be clogged within a few hours to the point that hardly any fresh air reaches the cab. At that stage, it should actually be replaced. Because this entails a cost, however, the replacement is often delayed—to the detriment of the driver.

The alternative: the cleanable MAHLE filter that can be tapped out

In co-operation with Mercedes-Benz, MAHLE has developed a cabin air filter that can be cleaned. It is installed as standard equipment in construction site vehicles from the Actros and Actros II series. The filter fleece is designed to capture exceptionally large amounts of dust. When its capacity is reached, the filter can be tapped out, or—even better—blown out with compressed air. The special filter medium is cast in a strong plastic frame. This means it can withstand the often severe blows it receives during cleaning without suffering damage. Tests have indicated that cleaned cabin air filters do not suffer any loss of performance and provide the driver with the same level of protection as a new filter. MAHLE has designed the filter to be robust enough that it can be cleaned up to 80 times.

Activated carbon even binds gases

MAHLE filters are available as particulate or combination filters. Particulate filters keep out dust, diesel soot, and pollen. Combination filters with activated carbon also absorb irritant gases such as ozone, or toxic gases from fertilisers, as well as unpleasant odours. They are stored in the pores of the activated carbon. The granules—which can be envisioned as a sponge—are placed between two layers of non-woven matting. It is so porous that two grams of activated carbon have approximately the same surface area as a football pitch. A standard filter contains 200 grams of activated carbon—providing a filter surface area of about 100 football pitches.

Cleaning tips

When cleaning the filter, observe the following:

when tapping or blowing out the filter, the dirt must be removed in the opposite direction from the airflow, i.e. the side of the filter that is first penetrated by the dirty air must be tapped out.

A face mask should always be worn during the cleaning process.