Where the cabin air filter really is!
I own a 2006 Suzuki Forenza. I bought the car with 12 miles on it and didn't know that there is such a thing called a cabin air filter. The last couple weeks, I would start the car and smell this extremely thick dirt smell and couldn't figure out what it was. Since I've recently paid the car off, I went to my local auto part store asking about it. I bought both the air cabin filiter and the engine filter (located under the hood). As we know, there is absolutely nothing in the owner's manual about where this filter is located and there is no major DIY manual for this car (recently found this out). I called my dealership, completed several web searches and I only found out that it's behind the glove compartment...ok.
I took the 5 screws out of the glove compartment to expose what was behind it and it was nothing that was easily accessible to replace the filter. Out of frustration, I left it alone until the next day (yesterday) to tackle it again. Last night, I went back out to figure this out and looked UNDERNEATH where the dashboard on the passenger side. There are 4 screws that releases a small piece of plastic that measure about the same size and length of the filter (these 4 screws are the only visible screws under the dashboard). I was able to use an electric screw driver for the screws closer to the seat and the 2 closest to the inside (near the floor board/engine) required a shorter phillips screw driver to disassemble. The space is tight, so a screw driver less than 3 inches in height is perfect. Once I got the piece off, pulled the carpet back slightly for space, the now black air filter came right out. It was damp and leaves did come from removing the filter. This may sound crazy, but the easiest way to get to this was literally to lie upside down in the passenger seat for easier reach to unscrew and remove.
There definitely a difference in quality of the filter. I paid about $13 for the new filter and it felt very flimsy in comparison to the original, which was the same brand. I ran the heat for a while and instantly the smell went away. This morning was a different story. Some one posted about washing the system with a chemical/water mix. I was hoping to get more info on that. I drive with little ones in the car every day and the thickness and particles could contribute for upper resporatory illnesses by inhaling the smell over time. I could see taking the glove box out (possibly for room to remove, however, my personal opinion is that it's not necessary since it's underneath, not behind. The dealer wanted to charge me about $70 to replace this and it took less that 20 min once I found where it was. Hope this helps!