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Had annual State Inspection done at the dealership yesterday, and they found that the cabin air filter was very dirty and needed replacing (for about $60 parts and labor). My 2005 Prius has about 12K miles, and the service rep said that this filter needs replacement on average every 12K to 15K miles.

Two questions:
1) Is $60 a reasonable price to pay? (the do-it-yourself procedure outlined by john1701a looks hairy and time-consuming for a non-Car Guy)

2) How often do other 04/05 Prius owners replace their cabin air filters in real life?
 

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cabin air filter...

I believe the manual says 30,000 miles.

About $22 at Toyota for the part.

Maybe 10 minutes, if that to replace. Just open the glove box by releasing the "stop" tab (glove box REALLY opens up and swings downward). The cabin filter is right there, with a tab or 2 to release. Pull it straight out and replace. Close glove box.

Not sure if that's worth 40 bucks to ya.
I'm replacing mine soon (25,000 miles right now).
 

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I replaced mine with a $31 'electrostatic' filter. Cheaper gets you a 'pollen' filter.

At worst, take it out occasionally and dust it off. Mine was covered with leaves and stuff...
 

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This is one of the few do-it-yourself things on the car. Go for it. It is really easy.
 

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Classic Prius maintenance guides in the US say every year/15,000 miles. I don't recall on the 2004+ Prius.

The filter is about US$25.

This is a DIY item. You should probably check the cabin air filter more often than the maintenance interval, especially if your car lives outside or gets parked under many trees. It's amazing the amount of leafy matter that gets in there, along with bugs, pollen, and other airborne stuff. Take it out for a good shake every so often, better for a vaccuuming. Several people have gone to a home store, bought a heating system filter, cut it up, and made about 4 filters for their car for the cost of one Toyota fitted one...

It's best to look at the Owner's Manual for how to replace the filter, as the diagrams there are actually somewhat useful.
 

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I took mine out and checked it after the winter. Clean as a whistle. about 8500Km at the time I guess. Very easy job.
 

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A Classic Easy DIY Fix

Local dealership here installed is $19. They check it every oil change, and it's only needed changed once in all these years.
These filters are available on Amazon or Ebay for a couple bucks, or from AutoZone. The procedure is as simple as opening your glove box, uncoupling a damper rod, and removing the glove box. The filter carrier slides right out and the paper element is easily replaced. Why anyone would pay a dealer even $19, or $60 or more, just astounds me. Dead Simple Easy Peasy job.
 
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