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Our new-to-us Ford Flex is not the most stylish vehicle we have ever driven. It is, however, an incredible workhorse. The number of people and amount of stuff I can cram in there is stuff of legends. There is seating for seven, the rear seats are split and fold down with a couple of easy tugs on the colour coded pulls, and the rear back up sensors mean I know just how far back into a parking space I should go.
Know what else is legendary about our Flex?
An unholy smell the imminates every time the seasons change and you switch from the air conditioning to heating systems. I have never quite pinpointed whether it smells more like rotting vegetation or cat urine. It’s kind of a toss up.
We’ve never been able to figure out exactly where the smell is coming from. It’s sort of like a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ game with no definite answer. But did you know that your vehicle probably has a cabin filter? Up to 80% of vehicles built in the last 15 years or so have a cabin filter. And just like the furnace filter in your house, they need changing to help improve airflow and cut down on mysterious smells. And, with three out of six of us with pretty severe air borne allergies, as well as a mildly asthmatic kid, cleaner air is a no brainer.
First stop – Canadian Tire. We are talking about do it yourself car care here. You’ll find the filters back in the automotive section, not far from the tire display.
Once you locate the aisle, this is what you’re looking for. One of these handy dandy 3-ring binders. It will list every auto maker, vehicle, and year.
Keep in mind there are a few different kind of filters on your vehicle, so you’re looking in the right place.
It’s gonna look something like this. Then, you simply locate your filter on the shelf and be on your merry way (being sure to stop at the cashier first).
Unless you are special like me. In which case you have to ask the very helpful folks behind the automotive service counter to retrieve your filter for you from behind the counter. I tell myself this is because I am extra special that the filters for my vehicle are kept in there.
Things of beauty, are they not? Now, let me show you how to put one of these cabin filters into your Ford Flex.
This little gizmo is hidden behind your glove box. Open it up and pinch the two sides. This will allow it to drop down further than usual.
You’ll notice it only extends so far and then stops. There is a small catch pin on the side, to keep you from regularly hyper extending your glove box. Except you need to hyper extend it here.
Push the pin outwards and push the glove box slightly back towards the closed position. The pin should then slide out of the larger hole and the glove box drop right down.
This is what you are looking for under there. There are two small tabs underneath that will allow the door to pop off.
Why is it we were changing this filter again? At least it appears it was rotting vegetation giving off the odour and not anything else.
See this air flow marking on the side of the filter? Pay attention to that and put the filter back in the same way it came out.
The true test came a few days later, when the temperature decided to take a significant drop and I had to turn on the heat for the first time in months.
And… no smell!
Seriously, in less than 15 minutes I resolved a problem that had plagued us for two years. The FRAM Fresh Breeze has Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and activated carbon to help absorb and eliminate any other odours we may happen to produce over the next year or so. Hey, if baking soda works in the fridge, I can bet it works wonders in my car. While you’re at it, it’s wise to also change your air filter. (Always check with the manufacturer and follow the intervals they note in your owner’s manual.) That’s also a super easy procedure.
Now, about that second filter I bought – the engine filter. That’s also another easy DIY project you can take on (and finish) very quickly. That is in sharp contrast to so many of my other ‘mini’ projects, which seem to take forever. Neither does it require a whole host of tools. I needed no more than a screwdriver to pop the old one out. FRAM has put together a number of how-to videos for different makes and models of cars and trucks. They can be found here.
Why change your engine’s air filter? A clean filter means cleaner air flow. Cleaner air flow means better performance. And while my beloved Flex isn’t the sportiest vehicle around, it deserves to have the same get up and go that any other vehicle does. Seriously, if we need to get to bathroom facilities, we need to get there NOW.
If you’re looking for other ways you can clean up your vehicle and help it run better – without breaking out the bucket o’suds – check out FRAM Fresh Breeze site