How to Replace the Cabin Air Filter in a 2007 Subaru Outback

Well after getting back from vacation in Avalon, NJ, I had plenty of work to do.  One task was to replace the engine air filter and the cabin air filter in my 2007 Subaru Outback Sedan.  I was able to purchase the new filter for $28.00 at the local auto parts store.  The procedure should take about 15 minutes to complete (longer if your taking pictures of the process.)  Please note I am not an auto mechanic.  This post is more for my records than anything.  Subaru states the cabin air filter should be replaced yearly.  The filter in my car is 2 years old.  It should look pretty nasty.

  • Open the glove-box and remove everything.  The filter is behind the glove-box.
  • Open the passenger side door and remove the right end cover.  This piece pulls off.  I held onto the back while prying off the top and front.
  • Unhook the small retracting cable and using a small Phillips head screwdriver, remove the screw which the glove-box door hinges on.  Careful, the clip which the screw is inserted is cheap plastic, no pressure is needed.  I was able to get the screw part way out and then pop out the pushpin clip.
  • You need to pop out the two plastic “gliders” from the grooves on each side of the glove-box door.  One they are out, the glove-box door should be free.
  • Remove the three screws on the right side of the glove-box compartment.
  • Remove the box which holds the owners manual.
  • Remove the three screws which holds an “L” shaped metal bracket.  The bracket helps keep the air filter in place and remember, the bracket is braced against three alignment stops.
  • Pull up the  piece of fabric.
  • Pull the carrier out by pushing the four clips (one on each side) towards the center.  For me it kept hanging up on the right side.  I had to force the opening a little.  Once the four clips cleared the beginning of the opening, the rest slid out with no problems.
  • Once the filter is out and you see how nasty it looks, just replace it with the new filter you purchased.
  • Follow the steps in reverse order and you should have everything back the way it should be.

On Monday July 13th I called the local Subaru dealer to see how much they would charge to replace the cabin air filter… the service desk representative said $90.00!  Glad I did this one on my own.

39 thoughts on “How to Replace the Cabin Air Filter in a 2007 Subaru Outback

  1. Bravo to George for these instructions. I had been very frustrated before reading this. If you have a 2007 Subaru Outback, this is for you!

    The only thing I would add is that the filter and bracket slide out UNDER the housing that holds the owner’s-manual holder. Once you get this, all is easy. Now that I have gotten the word from George, I think it would take me no longer than 15 min. next time. Do it.

    Thanks! Jim in Minnesota.

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    1. Jim,

      I’m glad to hear my instructions helped. I wrote this post because I needed to change the filter plus I bought a new camera and wanted to shoot some pictures. Plus spending $90.00 for a $28.00 part is insane!

      Take care!

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  2. Great advice and I was able to change the filter that I paid under 20 dollars for with ease. The dealer wanted $136.00! The car I changed the filter on was a 2006 Outback.

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  3. George,

    Thanks for taking the time to document your experience in replacing this filter. It convinced me that I could do it too. I followed your step by step procedure and had no problem doing it. The only thing I did the same as noted in your pictures was take out some additional screws that was not necessary, so next time I will stick to the directions. I was very glad to have your guidance and pictures to follow. BTW, the filter was totally covered with dirt and debris. Thanks again, gary.

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  4. Great instructions George!
    This worked like a charm! Thank you very much for your advice.
    The only constructive feedback I would give is the 5th bullet “Remove the three screws on the right side of the glove-box compartment.” is not necessary. You can leave those in to remove the owners manual box.
    FYI – I got my filter on ebay for $9.85 (free shipping) from this vendor
    He shipped quickly and the part was right. All worked well…I’ll also buy you a beer!

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    1. Thank you for the update on the three screws and the link on where you purchased the cabin filter. I’m not sure why I said remove those three screws. Maybe it was stuck or I figured that I needed to. Next time I change the filter I’ll revisit these instructions and modify as needed.

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    1. No. I usually take the Outback to the Subaru dealer I bought it from for oil change (which I did over the weekend), and other maintenance stuff. I am in need for new tires and I’m not sure if I want the tires from Subaru or better quality tires. I’ll most likely spend most of the summer shopping around and talking to some friends about where to get really good tires at the best possible price.

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      1. I found your site when researching open office. If you haven’t bought tires yet, the best and cheapest are Michelins from Costco. You want the newest tires. There are youtube videos on how to read the date on the side of every tire, it will tell you the exact week of the year the tire was made. Check the date yourself. Tires over six years old should never be used even if they are brand new never used tires – the tread might look fine but the tread separates on the highway and you lose control of the vehicle. Just in case you already bought old tires, return them.

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      2. I have had Michelins from costco but prefer the Goodrich tires from costco They have a sale about twice a year and you save about $80

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  5. Thanks. This worked out great and saved me a bunch of money. I bought a charcoal filter on eBay for $17 shipped — so that’s all this cost me.

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  6. Hi George,

    I completed successfully my first cabin filter replacement following your instruction, which I think is the best on the net!!!

    Thank you so much for taking time and efforts to document the step-by-step procedures.

    Like

  7. Thank you. First time changed filter on 2006 Outback. Old filter was filthy. New filter was $15 on Amazon.com. I’m wondering if really need to take off glove compartment door, or would there be enough space if just let the door hang down by undoing the two side clips and retracting cable. It would save the step of undoing and redoing the right hand hing screw. I’ll try it before another 4 years is up!

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  8. Fantastic instruction and photos! The process went more smoothly than I expected on my 2006 Outback. Ditto on noting that the filter frame slides out under the manual box opening.

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  9. Thank you for the photos. This worked perfectly for my 2007 Outback. I’m also glad to see good advice from a Steeler’s fan. Thank you again.
    Mark

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  10. These instructions worked perfectly for my 2007 subaru outback. This was my first time replacing the cabin air filter and it couldn’t have gone smoother. I purchased the air filter for $18, and after 15 minutes of installation was chuckling about the $80 quote I was given. The pictures were helpful too!

    Thanks for the great instructions!

    Mike in Wyoming

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  11. Great instructions that enabled me to do this quickly. I especially like your detailed description of the hinge fastener. Without foreknowledge I would have been floundering around indefinitely and/or broken something.

    Nick in RI

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  12. So grateful for the Internet, and — more importantly — for those who take the time to post these tutorial blogs.

    Thanks ! My car smells clean and fresh, again, and … money saved/nothing broke 😉

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  13. Thanks for the photos and directions. Using O’Reilly’s house brand filter for $10, that looked just like the original, you saved me $$$. PS removing the 2 screws closer to the manual box made it’s removal easier.

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  14. This was PERFECT! Simple, to the point, illustrations are matching to your sequence!! Thank you SO very much! I have an ’06 and it is spot on! I believe Outbacks were same from ’04 – ’09, maaaybe 2010? My filter had 93k on it. YIKES!!!!!! I bet my air will smell better now! 🙂

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    1. Not only will your cabin smell better, but you may actually get air flow too.

      Glad the directions helped. I refer to them myself this summer.

      Like

  15. Hey George, great job on explaining it. Although I live in Australia, have the same model but the set up is just a little different, no need to undo any screws. For Australian readers I would say it is far easier, pop the side piece off adjacent to the door (most times it has an Airbag sticker on it coloured bright red and white).
    This is the same as George has mentioned above.
    Next you will need to detach the cord on the front left corner of the glove box.
    Pull the side walls of the glove box inwards until the slip clip has released from either side (the glove box door is now free).
    The top left compartment (larger one) is now all that is in the way before the filter.
    Push it up from the bottom to release the bottom plastic tags then the sides inwards again to release the remaining tags.
    Be gentle when doing all this to avoid snapping any of the holding tabs or scratching the interior plastics of the glove box.
    I would post pictures…..although as Ive just changed it, it could be 12months away. 🙂
    Hope this Helps any one who has a similar set up and cant find the screws 😀

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  16. You don’t need to remove the glove box and can leave it hanging, but its a real pain to scrunch the filter into the tray as the tray will only come out 3 inches or so. doable. I also spray Lysol in there to kill mold and fungus, wait 15 min, then repeat, then wait 15 min, and cover it up. Bought filter at amazon for 9 bux, cheaper one without activated charcoal. Dealership is out of control with these prices for simple repairs. I know they have overhead, but $100 for a 15 min repair with $10 part? I have been working on my 2007 outback for 8 years and just finished the exhaust system, all by myself. took 2 days with cheapo muffler from parts geek, dremel tool and some sweat labor. parts and exhaust pipe was about $150. The 2 mufflers were in good shape, but Y pipe area had a hole. Midas wanted $1050, firestone $740. Yes 2 days of labor is a pain, but I look at it as a challenge. New exhaust pipe with resonator was not as quiet as OEM subie part but savings was awesome. These outbacks are a breeze to work on. PCV was a nightmare until I realized that removing the ignition coil 3 screws made it a 5 min job. (PCV is in a really bad part of the head). Changing ATF and filter is easy, also differential fluids as well. I love this model for its ease of repairs. Just wish the damn head gaskets would last.

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