How to replace Subaru Outback 2008 Cabin A/C Filter

I am very sensitive to all kinds of smell. Got allergy? Surely! Especially here in Oregon!
I recently replaced the Cabin A/C filter, which is often called as “pollen filter”. it’s just the filter for A/C units for cabin area.
Unpleasant smell of our car is probably from three major sources: 1) dusts on the seats, which get worse for fabric seats, 2) dusts on the floor, and 3) dust on A/C units. I tried to minimized all these, but only recently for the last one.

1) I bought Limited edition and got leather seats, which minimized smell from the seats.
2) I got all weather rubber floor mats, which is easy to clean, unlike dirty wet carpets.
3) A/C filter. After driving less than year since I bought this brand new Outback, my nose started to feel something is wrong, and realized it is from the air from A/C. Yes, filter!
I am not sure how much you need to pay for this if you stop by Subaru Service, maybe $100? Instead, I decided to replace myself and bought the part from them for ~$27 after coupon.

The problem is I couldn’t find a good instruction from internet, though Joe Spitz put one in his website:  http://www.cars101.com/subaru/airfiltration.html
There is another one here I found useful:  http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15559&highlight=cabin+air+filter

STEP 1: Open the passenger side door and pry off the right instrument side panel/cover. Wiggle with your hands, and pry off it. (Then it would be like the picture below).

STEP 2: Unhook the string that supports the glove box door, and bend the sides of the glove box to pop it out of their tracks, so you can move the glove box open lower. (See picture above)

STEP 3: Remove the plastic screw shown in the picture above (Don’t apply too much force for this, it’s “plastic”.)

STEP 4: Remove the upper storage bin where your manual is stored (Just pull it. This is easy), and now you can see the filter cover.

STEP 5: Remove 5 plastic screws on the access panel, as shown in the picture above. Then, grab the hole and pop out the panel. (I could reach the clips behind that fix the panel by accessing them through the opening from previous step, and wiggle the panel to pop it out.)

STEP 6: Remove the filter cover (cover and filter as one unit) using levers, and angle it down, and slide it through the bottom opening.

STEP 7: Replace the filter with the new one. (Less than 8000 miles of driving, my A/C filter is already dirty!!! Dealer’s recommendation is at 15K, I would like to replace it every 7K.)

STEP 8: Reverse the orders to put it all back together.

After replacement, the bad odor went away~~ Yeah!
Please comment if there is anything confusing, so I can clear it out. You should be able to replace yours and breath better inside your ride. Don’t pay extra bucks at dealer shop.

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7 Responses to “How to replace Subaru Outback 2008 Cabin A/C Filter”


  1. 1 thatmanphil 04/20/2011 at 6:34 PM

    Thanks for posting! I’ve never seen an air cabin filter this difficult to replace.

  2. 2 Sondra Blanzaco 09/17/2012 at 1:34 PM

    You are a lifesaver! No wonder I have an asthma attack every time I turn on the A/C or blower! All clean now, thanks to you. I appreciate your taking the time to clearly explain the procedure with photos. And I agree with Thatmanphil, good grief!

    • 3 Hyun 09/18/2012 at 10:15 AM

      Nice to hear that! Yes, dirty filters can kill us … slowly. We need to care about what we breath, which affects not only our lung but also our blood where our life is in. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11)

  3. 4 Luke Macaulay 10/24/2013 at 3:49 PM

    Ihad a problem removing the plastic screw in your second picture. Others in the links you posted had the same problem http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/99-do-yourself-illustrated-guides/15559-2008-outback-cabin-filter-replacement.html, You basically have to pry underneath it (I used a small knife) while unscrewing with the Phillips head screwdriver.

    • 5 Luke Macaulay 10/24/2013 at 4:19 PM

      I ended up not replacing the plastic fasteners holding the cover for the filter. It snapped on snug enough with the clips that I’m going to skip the hassle of these darn things next time. Thanks for the tutorial! Was a real help.

  4. 7 Maciej Godlewski 11/02/2013 at 8:43 AM

    Thanks for the tutorial. It helped much, because this is my first us-spec OBK and replacement is slightly different than in EU-versions.


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