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BMW Cabin Air Filter Change - BMW X3 | How To Guide

Updated on November 17, 2013
The location of the cabin air filter housing at the back of the engine compartment just below the windshield.  There are 3 push screws that hold it down as indicated in the red circles.
The location of the cabin air filter housing at the back of the engine compartment just below the windshield. There are 3 push screws that hold it down as indicated in the red circles.
Twist each of the screws and they should pop up since they are spring loaded.  They only need to twist 90 degrees to disengage.
Twist each of the screws and they should pop up since they are spring loaded. They only need to twist 90 degrees to disengage.
Lift the cover to reveal the filter then lift the old filter up and pull out.
Lift the cover to reveal the filter then lift the old filter up and pull out.
The under side of the filter (the intake dirty side).  This is after 35,000 miles and 4 years.  I will probably be changing it every 2 years from now on.
The under side of the filter (the intake dirty side). This is after 35,000 miles and 4 years. I will probably be changing it every 2 years from now on.
The new filter vs. the old.  Quite a difference.
The new filter vs. the old. Quite a difference.
This is what was stuck under my filter.  Dirt and leaves and a lot of it.  I vacuumed it out then wiped it out with damp rag to get it nice and clean.
This is what was stuck under my filter. Dirt and leaves and a lot of it. I vacuumed it out then wiped it out with damp rag to get it nice and clean.
To install the new filter make sure the small plastic center tab is up and at the back so that this side goes in first.
To install the new filter make sure the small plastic center tab is up and at the back so that this side goes in first.
The plastic center tab fits in a notch in the housing.  Slide the new filter in until it is snug on the sides and the tab is seated in the notch.
The plastic center tab fits in a notch in the housing. Slide the new filter in until it is snug on the sides and the tab is seated in the notch.
The new filter installed.  Close the cover and push  down on each of the 3 screws and twist them until they lock.  They should only need to twist 90 degrees.
The new filter installed. Close the cover and push down on each of the 3 screws and twist them until they lock. They should only need to twist 90 degrees.

This is a quick do it yourself guide on the cabin air filter location and how to replace the cabin air filter in a 2006 BMW X3. These instructions and the recommended part below should apply to 2004-2008 models, but have a look under your hood and make sure you get the right part when replacing. Replacing the X3 cabin air filter is a quick task that requires no tools and should only take 10 minutes and should save you some money if you order the replacement cabin air filter online.

How Often To Change Your Cabin Air Filter

I'm not actually sure what BMW recommends but most filters require changing every 20,000 miles or so. It really depends on driving conditions and ultimately how dirty your existing filter is so checking it is not a bad idea. I got my 2006 X3 in 2010 and just changed the filter now at the end of 2012. The filter had last been changed in 2008 at 30,000 miles so in the pictures at right that dirty filter is 4 years old with 35,000 miles on it. I probably should have changed it around 2 years ago when i got the car.

It might be worthwhile to check your filter every year and at least clean out any dirt accumulated below the filter if it doesn't need replacing. You can see from the photos of mine that there was half a tree worth of dried up leaves under mine.

Ordering a New Cabin Filter Online

I ordered mine from Amazon which has a good price on Mann filters which are direct OEM replacement filters for many BMW models.

Here is the filter I used and the one featured in the photos:


Replacement Process

Click the photos at right and follow along with the captions (a picture is worth a 1000 words) and you'll see the process is very simple. Essentially just turn each of the push screws 90 degrees to loosen the cover, lift the cover straight up and then lift the old filter up and pull out. Clean out the area under the filter if it's dirty. There is a small tab sticking up in the center of the black plastic filter frame which fits into a notch in the car housing, insert the new filter with that side up and so that the tab fits into the notch. The sides of the filter will be snug against the sides of the housing. With the new filter well seated close the cowl and push each of the screws back in and turn 90 degrees to reengage.

That's it, you're done. Happy breathing!



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    • profile image

      frank gallagher 2 years ago

      Just got a price quote on an activated charcoal cabi filter on an 2004 X3. $100. Even the parts guy thought it was over the top.

    • johnnyvest profile image
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      johnnyvest 2 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Wow @fank gallagher, that is over the top. I just replaced mine again for the usual price of around $20 ... took 10 minutes to replace that and the engine air filter as usual.

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