Hay-fever sufferers have been having a torrid time these past summers, with recent heatwaves causing an abundance of irritation-causing grass pollen.
With the new year rolling in quick, if you’ve been slack about properly servicing and maintaining your car, you could actually be making your hay-fever a whole lot worse.
Select Car Leasing, the UK’s largest independent specialists for car and van leasing, says the key thing to remember is your car’s cabin air filter - a common filter equipped on nearly all modern vehicles.
It’s also a cheap part to replace - costing as little as £10 - that should get swapped during a typical service.
But you ignore it at your peril.
Graham Conway, Managing Director of Select Car Leasing, explains:
“The cabin filter is one of a number of filters that need replacing on a regular basis, including your oil filter, fuel filter and air filter, the latter of which stops dust and other airborne particles getting into your engine. The cabin filter works to clean the air that comes into the interior of your car via the air conditioning or regular heating and cooling vents. It picks up all sorts of nasties before they have a chance to make their way to your respiratory system, including bacteria and fungal spores.
“And it’s also a godsend when it comes to trapping pollen. The problem comes when you don’t replace the cabin filter. Months, perhaps years, of pollen can become trapped in this filthy quagmire, before being blasted at your face every time you get in the car. If you’re a hay-fever sufferer who has not been sticking to your car’s service schedule, or you’ve been trying to do it on the cheap, your dirty cabin filter could be making your life a living hell.”
According to the NHS, the main symptoms of hay fever are sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears, loss of smell pain around your temples and forehead, headache, earache and feeling tired.
Mr Conway adds:
“None of those symptoms are conducive to attentive driving and they could all present real dangers when behind the wheel of a car. Some of the new cars on the road, including the Land Rover Discovery, now come with sophisticated cabin air filtration systems that offer even greater levels of protection from allergens and harmful particles. For everyone else, the cabin air filter is key - and should not be overlooked.”
Select Car Leasing says it’s also important to clean the interior of your car on a regular basis in order to remove traces of pollen or other allergens, rather than risk them re-circulating around the restricted space in your vehicle’s cabin.
A typical interim car service, meanwhile, should cost around £75 to £125, with a full service starting at around £150, though with companies like Select Car Leasing, servicing and maintenance packages can be included in your individual plan.
The road risks associated with hay fever are also not lost on the courts.
Last month Select Car Leasing warned that if a sneezing attack occurs whilst driving, leaving you unable to pay attention to the road, you could be hit with a £2,500 fine for driving ‘without due care and attention’, as stated in the Highway Code.
Mr Conway added: “If you’re severely allergic to pollen and heading out on a drive, it is really important that you have taken the appropriate steps to manage your allergies. Not only is a sneezing fit whilst driving wildly uncomfortable, you run the risk of being unable to drive safely and causing an accident, harming yourself and others in the process.
“The best course of action would be to safely pull over at the side of the road, and continue when the feeling has passed.”
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