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Low Airflow Air Conditioning: The Low Flow Down Low

Low Airflow Down Low

With all of today’s modern automotive conveniences, good heat and AC are still at the top of everyone’s lists. A car may have Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, lane keep assist, GPS and other fancy functions but if it has low airflow air conditioning, we’re lost. As your car ages you may notice that it seems like the AC doesn’t blow as hard — the temperature still seems cold but the air just doesn’t blow like it used to. If you are heating up trying to track down your AC issues here are a few things that could be blocking up your vents and causing a low airflow air conditioning problem.

Start From the Top

Car air vent

It may seem a bit silly but you have to start somewhere so you should always start your search at the end of the line. If the problem is your car AC not blowing air from vents make sure the vent controls on the dashboard are open and the vent is pointing outward. This may be the cause of your car AC not blowing at all. Depending on the style your vehicle uses, the vent control can also get hung up so sometimes closing and reopening them with the thumb wheel is all that’s needed. The vent control can also become disconnected over time and need to be repaired. If the vent controls move freely but the vent shutters stay closed grab a flash light and try to locate the mechanism inside. Sometime the fix is as easy a clipping a rod back into place.

Go With the Flow

Nine times out of 10, weak airflow is caused by a clogged up cabin air filter. Over time, this filter catches all dirt and debris, which can build up and slow or stop the flow of air. It’s typically located under the dash on the passenger side or inside the glove box and should be cleaned or replaced regularly. If you think your AC not blowing strong is caused by a clogged cabin filter go ahead and replace it, do not try to clean it. Banging the filter on the ground just damages the filter and doesn’t remove the fine particles that have actually clogged the filter material.

Find the Fan

This one is a bit of a long shot but it could be the blower motor fan has become clogged up with debris. Even with a cabin air filter you’d be shocked how much junk can find its way into the duct system of a car. If your vehicle is too old to have a cabin air filter then the problem is even more likely to happen. Everything from leaves to rodent nests seem to find their way down in to the fan area. Make sure it is clean with nothing to impede the flow of air. If your air conditioner air flow is weak, check the fan and the housing around it.

Flip Flap Flopped

Maybe the air barely coming out of vents in car AC systems isn’t  due to an outside object, but a misbehaving system component. All vehicles give you the option to have your AC come out up top or on our feet using a series of blend doors that direct the air to the proper set of vents. Small motors on most modern cars control these doors but in some cases can also be moved using cables. Either way, if the cable or motor isn’t working properly, it won’t completely open and close the blend doors and cause an air leak and lower airflow. When this happens some vents not blowing air in car air ducts could be a sign. If you have strong air flow at your feet but not out of the top dash vents, your problems may lie with the flaps directing air flow.

Blocked Intake

The final issue that could be causing low airflow air conditioning could be related to the intake where air enters the system. There are two intakes, one for fresh air located at the base of the windshield and one for re-circulated air that can be found in the passenger side footwell. If either of these intakes is obstructed it can severely hamper the flow of air to the point of the car not blowing air. Often leaves can pile up at the base of the windshield and cover the fresh air intake. An aftermarket alarm or stereo system crammed under the dash may be great, but if your car AC doesn’t blow air then your driving experience won’t be so fun. Try switch between fresh air and recirculate settings to see if the air flow problem stays the same. If you get air flow on recirculate but not on fresh air, you know where the look for the blockage.

Keeping your AC flowing at max performance is important to keeping cool. If your vehicle’s climate control is suffering from low airflow air conditioning check out these areas for blockages. Be aware that some of these fixes might require you to peer in, around, and underneath the dashboard so make sure to have a good flashlight handy. If may also be worth investing in a repair manual if you need to disassemble anything. Interior panels are notorious for breaking when not removed correctly so it is worth doing a little research.

Check out all the air conditioning system parts available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on low airflow air conditioning or dealing with when your air won’t blow in car AC mode, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Image courtesy of Flickr.


Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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