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Long-Haul Cab Air Filtration: What Any Fleet Operator or Independent Hauler Should Know

January 12, 2021 / in Cabin Air Filters

If 2020 has taught us anything, it should be to prioritize the safety and health of our most essential workforce. No, I’m not talking about all of the brave nurses and doctors battling on the front lines of the COVID19 pandemic. I’m not talking about our amazing first responders in law enforcement, EMTs or firefighters. All of those heroes are absolutely essential and critical to sustaining our way of life, but should this particular group of essential workers suddenly disappear, every aspect of our lives would grind to a halt in a matter of days. I’m talking about the long-haul drivers that ensure that grocery store shelves are stocked with food, medicine and toilet paper. Without long-haul drivers we’d be in serious trouble. So, it’s always going to be in our best interest to make sure that long-haul drivers stay healthy and on the road.

Cab Air Quality Has Real Implications for Driver Health

There are many aspects of a driver’s personal habits that contribute to their overall health and we can’t help with many of them. What we can do is ensure the best possible air quality inside the cabin of the truck. The truck cabin is where drivers spend hours upon hours at a time. In fact, for a long-haul driver, the cabin of the truck is like a second home. What else would you call a place where someone spends up to 24 hours at a time? The air outside of the truck can be up to 6X more polluted than the air inside at any given time. That stat doesn’t sound terribly far-fetched when you consider some of the environments a long-haul driver has to navigate – jam-packed cities, filthy construction sites, shipping terminals crowded with other diesel exhaust spewing big rigs, oil fields in the most remote regions of the world, diesel powered heavy machinery, crowded truck stops, dusty rural roads, etc… While on the job doing their part to help sustain our quality of life, long-haul drivers encounter far more air pollutants than the average driver does. Without proper cabin air filtration, that 6X dirtier outside air will get in and cause a whole slew of respiratory and cardiovascular issues. That’s no way for some of our most essential workers to live! The cabin of the truck should be a safe haven for drivers who are constantly subjected to harsh environmental conditions on the open road.

Implications for HVAC Performance, Reliability and Safe Driving

Health implications aside for a moment – fleet operators and drivers should also be wary of the negative performance impact for the truck’s HVAC system as a result of heavy-duty cabin air filter neglect. The change intervals for heavy-duty cabin air filters vary greatly depending on factors such as geography, road conditions, weather, terrain traveled, etc… A general rule of thumb is to change the heavy-duty cabin air filter out every 15,000 to 20,000 miles. More frequent changes may be needed if the driver regularly navigates through harsh conditions. Neglecting to adhere to a similar change interval or one better aligned with long-haul driving habits will result in occluded cab filters, which is never a good thing for components of the truck’s HVAC system. Poor ventilation will become apparent through noticeably reduced airflow through the cabin vents. Heating and cooling functions will become less efficient and their effects will be dramatically reduced. Windshield defrosting or defogging capability will also suffer and could lead to unsafe conditions for any vehicle, never mind one that is hauling up to 80,000 pounds of cargo in the rain.

Easy Driver and Equipment Protection for a Healthier Bottom Line

Fortunately, preventative heavy-duty cabin air filter maintenance is an easy way to ensure the highest level of protection against harmful air contaminants in the truck cab – with the dual benefit of an efficient, smooth running HVAC system to maintain safe driving conditions. Between the cabin of the truck and the sleeper compartment, there could be 2-3 filters that need replacement. Manufacturers understand the significant safety impact of cabin air filtration for a long-haul rig and usually try to engineer solutions that are easy to access and replace on-the-fly as needed. Heavy-duty cabin air filter replacement may seem inconsequential compared with some of the other advanced technologies featured in modern trucks but make no mistake, it’s critical to make them a part of all routine maintenance. Keeping the workforce safe is a phenomenal way to save money and goes a long way towards maintaining a healthy bottom line in any business. This is especially true for any fleet operation whose goal is to maximize time on the road with safe and efficient operation.
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