I purchased my car with settlement money after getting hit by a car on my bicycle and being knocked out in the middle of the road covered in safety glass. I still generally don’t like driving in DC but have come to terms that going home to Minnesota is much easier with a car, as are trips to IKEA, and delicious Korean barbecue restaurants in Virginia. With that said, I’ve kept my little blood money car and do general maintenance on it with regularity.
After a recent maintenance appointment the mechanic told me I needed to change my cabin filter and the cost was about $70 because the filter was behind the glove box. I was also told that the cabin filter was not the most critical thing to repair right away so I could think about scheduling my appointment.
After chewing on that price and thinking about how it would take me 2 hours to simply drop-off and pick-up my car at the mechanic I did some Googling and found that indeed, the cabin filter is behind the glove box, but it is also possible to change it yourself.* So of course I thought that taking apart my most valuable possession was a great idea in spite of having little to no car knowledge.
- Nissan Versa (mine is a 2009)
- Phillips head screwdriver size 41
- TYC 800101P Nissan Versa Replacement Cabin Air Filter – this costs about $12 from Amazon
- Vise-grip pliers
- ramekin for screws
- headlamp / flashlight
Please note, taking photos of the car was a lot trickier than I thought, so some of these images are renderings from Nissan and are more accurate.
Locate four screws on the on bottom of the glove box and remove them one by one. The image above is a shop of the bottom screws, so you can see they are fairly big and easy to see. You will need to be kneeling on the ground or perched strangely in your car to do this so I advise wearing pants or padding your knees if you have bare legs.
Open the glove box. There are two screws by the latch and one screw on each corner of the top (the drawing above shows the two in the middle and on the sides). Unscrew carefully and one by one – it doesn’t matter the order and you do not need to loosen all of them first.
While I was doing this I kept saying “what if this thing falls on my head? What if I do something and have to drive back to the mechanic without my glove box?” Seriously, do not worry about car parts falling on your head or not being able to get the box back in – I did it and you can too!
After removing all the screws, put your hand on the top part of the glove box and slowly pull out. When removing, you the glove box you will see that there is a light attached in the middle. Remove the light by twisting left and it should pop right out. Place glove box in the backseat of the car or on the ground.
After you remove the glove box, the filter will be all the way on the back left of your car. In all honestly, I had to take a photo of the back of the car to see what I was doing (see photo above) because I couldn’t see well. To find the filter, I looked at the tab of the new filter and found it on the old filter tab (physical examples are great, ya’ll). The instructions are to lift and pull the filter out. My partner gave me hand on this part and he used vice-grip pliers to yank out the filter and did not say he needed to lift up on the filter.
Once the filter is removed try not to howl in disgust when you see it! The new filter slides back in fairly easily – remember that the open side is the top of the filter.
Put the glove box back in, and remember to twist the light back in. Finally, apply a lot of pressure to the glove box when screwing the screws back in. The pressure is needed to make sure the spaces align with the holes for the screw.
Hope you enjoy this quick car repair (it really took about 30 minutes to be done) that saves you about $60 and at least a few minutes for commuting.
*There are parts of the Nissan Versa that I have found particularly challenging to repair like the headlights or to have the oil changed. Other things, like replacing the battery or the back windshield wiper can be done with ease.