Automatic vents refer to the various safety mechanisms in automobiles that automatically release smoke and carbon monoxide when they detect a fire or danger. They are usually located near the doors, over each wheel, and behind the front seat headrests. Vehicles can be equipped with as many as six automatic vents on their exterior surface at different locations for protection against fire and heat. Automotive vents are often found to be clogged with leaves, foreign objects, dust, and dirt, which can lead to engine inefficiency.
Why Proper Vent Maintenance is Important
- Automotive vents not only protect you from injury but also save various vital car parts from damage in case of a fire. For instance, if the exterior vents are not working, the debris inside the car can burn and may cause severe damage to the interior and exterior of your vehicle.
- They release poisonous gases (mainly carbon monoxide) emitted by cars during normal operations, like during start-up and idle. Automotive vents can be an economical way to avoid safety issues than purchasing expensive engine components that ensure proper ventilation in a vehicle. These automotive vents can be especially important to vehicles equipped with catalytic converters.
- Blocked vents can lead to increased fuel consumption and dust accumulation in the engine compartment. It may also reduce the efficiency of the air conditioning system during the summer months.
How do vents function in a vehicle?
The vehicle’s air conditioning system and the air vents serve as a protective barrier between the interior of your car and the outside elements. The air vents are located near the cabinetry that acts as a barrier between drivers, passengers, cargo, and road conditions. The general purpose of this barrier is to prevent fire from reaching the passenger compartment. In addition, they also control heat flow from the engine compartment to the cabin space by acting as a heat transfer device for cooling purposes.
The air vents in your vehicle can be triggered with a switch or automatically activated by the temperature sensors. It is these sensors (thermostats) that control the opening of each vent in your vehicle. A thermostat regulates the opening of a vent according to temperature. Temperature sensors are located on the exterior surfaces of your vehicle and monitor temperatures to determine when they should open or close an air vent.
When weather conditions change, this regulator system works to alter the position of these vents, reducing heat transfer and regulating engine performance. These air vents are also intended to provide fresh air for the interior of a vehicle during periods of prolonged livestock and highway driving. The operation of these openings should not be tampered with unless it is necessary to replace an air vent, protect against fire or repair a faulty vent.
Potential problems that can arise from poor vent maintenance
- i) Inefficient engine operation and fuel consumption.
- ii) Unbalanced climate control conditions – warm in winter, humid in the summer months, etc.
iii) Possible safety issues from excessive carbon monoxide levels inside the vehicle.
- iv) Possible air quality issues due to the accumulation of dead insects, birds, leaves, and other debris inside the vents.
- v) Reduced vehicle value due to damage caused by poor ventilation.
How to Properly Maintain Automotive Vents
Regular maintenance of your vehicle is the best way to keep these safety mechanisms operational and safe. You should clean and replace your vents once every year or two, depending on the level of debris inside them. This can be done using a vacuum cleaner. Common sense will tell you which vents are clogged with foreign objects that need to be removed.
Signs that Your Vents Need Maintenance
-When you notice a change in the operation of your engine.
-When your climate control system is not performing at its optimum level.
-When you notice that your vehicle’s engine revs faster when the car is idling at traffic lights and stop signs.
-When an odor of carbon monoxide is noticeable in your vehicle.
-When you smell antifreeze in the car (when water condenses on the underside of the car).
-When you notice that it takes longer to cool your car (or the air conditioner takes longer to dehumidify).
-When you start your car, the temperature is not comfortable, or there is a change in temperatures.
Instructions for cleaning and maintaining vents
- i) Remove all exterior items attached to the vents.
- ii) Vacuum with a soft brush attachment or vacuum cleaner if necessary.
iii) Be sure to clean the dust and debris gathered in the vents during the year.
- iv) Wash and dry the vents with soap and water. Dry them with a clean cloth before replacing them.
- v) Replace each vent with no more than 50% of its original size, as stated on your vehicle’s owner’s manual or service schedule.
Tips for preventing future vent problems
-Clean your vehicle’s vents as often as possible.
-Keep leaves and other debris from accumulating on the vents.
-Refrain from using unsuitable materials to clean your vents, such as newspaper, polishing, or abrasive products.
-Do not apply any painting products to your vehicle’s exterior surface because they can clog your air vents.
-Do not install any items (like antenna mounts or cellphones) on the outside surfaces of your vehicle.
As a car owner, you ought to take good care of automotive vents because they are found in all cars and serve as safety mechanisms that prevent pollution in the car. Some vehicles also have vent knobs to open or close them manually. Therefore, remember to maintain your vehicle following your owner’s manual.