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How to change the cabin air filter?!

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Hey everyone. I'm new here but I've been using this forum as a great source of knowledge for most of the questions I've had in the six months that I've owned my Model X. Typically between the Forum and YouTube I can find answers for just about everything I could possibly imagine but I finally found something that's managed to stump me...and I have absolutely no idea why I can't find information on it.

I've seen threads on here until the cows come home about the biohazard HEPA filter but I have yet to find a single post or video about the cabin air filter replacement. After all of the stuff I've looked up I'm guessing that like the facelifted S, its probably behind the glove box which is what everybody absolutely loves to hear. I purchased the cabin air filter directly from Tesla myself under the assumption that it wouldn't be that difficult to replace since I've always replaced all of my other vehicle's air filters easily.

Can anyone confirm its location and/or the process of getting to it? Is it going to seriously require ripping panels off and removing the glove compartment to get to it? Why on earth hasn't a single person asked this question yet?!?
Nearly 100 views and no responses...looks like this might be a hot topic others want to know too.

I called the Service Center and they confirmed that it is located behind the glove box and can only be accessed by removing the glove box which itself requires removing the trim above and below the glove box as well as the piece to the right of the touch screen. Sounds identical to the post-facelift S process. Significantly more involved than the old S which was simply open the frunk and pull it out, but I don't think it sounds too insane.

I'm gonna try to make a video of the process for anyone else that wonders how to do this.
Check out the video by @Jays200 in HEPA filters without PUP (post 47). I posted a picture of my filter for my non-PUP in post 77.

Both of those posts are referring to the ginormous HEPA filters. I'm talking about the regular cabin air filter shown below


Remember, those X's with PUP have 2 filters...the huge HEPA filter and the odd shaped regular cabin air filter. To absolutely no surprise, you can't even buy this awkward shaped filter anywhere but from Tesla (For $25). No one else even sells it. Yet.
I'm one of the 100 views. I'm curious as well about the specific steps although I knew where the air filter is located and assumed that I would have to remove the glove box. I actually ordered a custom 14x27.5x1 MERV 13 filter from filterbuy.com and plan to add the filter to my non PUP model S and do a ONE TIME removal of the in cabin filter as part of the maintenance. I think in the future it will be easier to remove the frunk tub to replace that filter than the one behind the glove box. The "bio-defence" filter will be more than adequate without needing the in-cabin filter. What I don't know at this point is whether or not the in-cabin setup allows for no filter but still sealing the air so it doesn't leak out at that point. My guess is yes and worse case I can seal whatever gap is exposed when the filter is not installed.

It was interesting to me reading through 13 pages of this thread, How to add a HEPA filter to your non-Bioweapon facelift Model S! that no one talked about replacing the in-cabin filter. Assuming the in-cabin filter is one or more years old, it needs to be changed out or removed when installing the bio defense filter since the two filters are inline.

Oh, and I mentioned Model S but I plan to do the same to our X
I've been wondering about this as well. Are you talking about a smaller cabin filter instead of the 4' long filter that goes behind the frunk? My old Lexus RX350 has a small cabin filter in the glovebox and I changed that myself. It took a bit of force to remove the shelf, but like you, I don't want to do with my X without knowing any more information. You say you bought it directly from Tesla? What's the part number and do you have a picture?

In the Model X launch event, Elon Musk held up sample filters. These are what he described as the primary and secondary air filters. Is that small one the one you have?


My car did not have PUP so I bought the ebay version of the large filter and installed it myself prior to all these other versions that came out. It was fairly easy to remove the frunk liner but when I first installed it I didn't realize how snug it should be. As a result, the bottom was sticking out a bit and there was absolutely no air when I switched to the "fresh air" option. So when I was troubleshooting it, I removed the entire plastic assembly and noticed that it ducts towards the direction of the glove box. There are some louvers or something like that in there but I couldn't see if there is a second filter.
Assuming the in-cabin filter is one or more years old, it needs to be changed out or removed when installing the bio defense filter since the two filters are inline.

To the best of my understanding, they might be used inline when BioDefense is on, but air isn't always running through the HEPA filter, only the cabin air filter. You have to turn on BioDefense mode to use the HEPA, hence the whirlwind of noise it creates to get the pressure up. This leads me to believe that the cabin air filter still get dirty significantly faster than the HEPA, hence why its supposed to be changed so frequently.

What's the part number of that second filter?

I'll grab the invoice when I get home and post the part number
From my research, based on users that retrofitted the bio-defense filter, the air is always drawn through the bio-defense filter intake as long as the recirc mode is turned off. Bio defense mode is only setting recirc off and fan speed on 9 despite Tesla wanting people to think there's more to that mode. Looking at the path of the air intake, I'm very sure that the air is only drawn through the bio-defense box (intake) regardless if there's a filter in the box or not. In fact, some videos of the retrofit showed debris (leaves, etc.) in that empty box.

With recirculate mode on, the air may go through the in-cabin filter although I'm ok with that air not being filtered. Of course that's with my assumption the replacement of the in-cabin filter will be a pain in the butt. If it isn't and doesn't risk damaging the trim pieces, I'll replace the in-cabin filter as well (vs. removing and not replacing)
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Alright guys, just got done changing the cabin air filter. Took me over an hour and A LOT of frustration.

Not a job for the faint at heart as you have to pull HARD to get the top panel to release the 14 or 15 clips that hold it on. I spent over 3/4 of the time removing that panel alone. I rarely say this but as simple as this job sounds, unless you consider your skills above average I'd probably just let Tesla do it. There is a chance that once it's been done the clips will be looser but the initial time (such as mine), everything is VERY tight and takes a lot of heft to pull them off while still minding the finish of the leather and surrounding trim.

I made a video of the whole process but will have to take some time to edit it out. Video to follow soon.
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Look forward to seeing the video. Thanks for leading the way. It is those cosmetic trim pieces that i worry about. I don't care if I scratch stuff in the frunk. I may still go ahead with my plan to use just the frunk located filter and leave the in-cabin filter empty.
I don't know why they have to make it so hard to replace a cabin air filter. Did they not think about it when designing the car? The HEPA filter is much easier in comparison.

Now I understand why they break more things on every service visit.
Excellent video. I just put in the MERV 13 filter into the frunk (where the biodefense HEPA filter goes) over the weekend and I'll have to say that was a piece of cake vs. what you went through for the cabin filter. Given that outside air goes through the frunk filter first, I may just replace the cabin filter once (since there was no filter for me - no PUP originally) and then never replace it again. Or replace it every 3-5 years.
It's really not that bad if you follow a YouTube video and have any experience with building stuff

Pretty accurate. It's not difficult, it just requires a strong stomach to be able to pull extremely hard on the panels...many to a point where you expect stuff to snap off or fly apart. Panel removal can be like that.

I wouldnt blame most people for just having then SC do it for peace of mind alone.