Can My Car’s Cabin Filtration System Stop the Coronavirus?
Can My Car’s Cabin Filtration System Stop the Coronavirus?

We’re automotive journalists, not physicians or virologists, so we’re not in a position to offer especially useful advice when it comes to protecting you or your loved ones from the ravages of the COVID-19 “Coronavirus” that’s currently wreaking havoc on a global scale.

That said, we’re pretty good at parsing out simple truths and looking at the big picture, and based on a few simple facts we can tell you that your car’s cabin filtration system will not be of much use when it comes to avoiding the Coronavirus. Here’s why:

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Can My Car’s Cabin Filtration System Stop the Coronavirus?

COVID-19, Can My Car’s Cabin Filtration System Stop the Coronavirus?
At less than .2 microns in diameter, a Coronavirus particle can easily pass through most HEPA filters.


The High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter that is the core of most cabin-filtration systems in late-model vehicles is designed to block the passage of particulates as small as .3 microns (3 millionths of a meter) in diameter.

Depending on what source you believe, particles of the Coronavirus are between .06 and .14 microns in diameter—easily small enough to pass through a HEPA-filter-based system.

Additionally, the interior-air filters in many modern vehicles are incorrectly identified as HEPA, though they do not meet that standard.

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Because the Coronavirus is most commonly spread through human contact—generally between people within six feet of each other—the filtering of outside air is of little value when it comes to protecting yourself from COVID-19.

Also, the filtration system in most cars only filters air entering the vehicle from the outside–not air that is already in the cabin. Thus, if your Corona-infected passenger sneezes in the car, there’s nothing filtering the droplets he or she misted into the air—that air is just being circulated around the cabin.

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Bad Filters

Let’s face it, almost none of us remembers the last time we replaced our vehicle’s cabin-air filter. Even if the filter might have, at one time, filtered out some of the pollutants that enter a vehicle’s cabin, the four-year-old example in your car isn’t really up to the task anymore.


Riding in your car might be a good way to protect yourself from the Coronavirus, but only if you’re alone, not hanging out with a large crowd of sneezing, face-touching, would-be carriers.

As of this writing, there is some thought that the heat of summer will slow the spread of COVID-19, so if you’re looking for your car to help protect you from illness, try cranking up the heat. May sound silly, but it’s better than trusting the cabin-filtration system alone.

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Can My Car’s Cabin Filtration System Stop the Coronavirus?

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