Not that long ago, I noticed a not-so-fresh quality to the air inside my car. I couldn’t find any particular source of unfreshness and figured maybe it was time to replace the cabin air filter. I’ve had this car about nine years and I don’t remember ever having the cabin air filter replaced. You’d think the Toyota dealer would have taken the opportunity to charge me parts and labor for this at some point.

So I found a replacement part on ebay for $9 and set out to install it with instructions I found on a Scion forum. I took out the glove box and pulled out the filter holder behind it, expecting to find a filter encrusted with years of dust, pollen, hair, and other crud. Check out what I found:

Dude, where's my cabin air filter?

See the old filter? No, you don’t. There was none. It was never installed in the first place. I was gobsmacked. I’ve been breathing needlessly unfiltered cabin air all this time – how could this be? It turns out this is not uncommon in this particular car, and for all I know, others, too. I guess it’s all about cost-cutting – they shaved a couple of minutes off the assembly time and saved a couple of bucks on this filter thingy. Mind you, this is not the base model of the car, you can even see the bright orange LED that illuminates the footwell in the photo, I’m sure adding that cost a lot more than the air filter would have.

In a possibly similar corner-cutting, the estimable yoByoT found his 2013 Toyota missing several pennies worth of electrical tape from a key computer component under the hood. Beginning of the end for Toyota? Well, certainly not the beginning. I wonder what other small parts are missing from my car, or yours.