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The Importance of Clean Air Vents

Leaves on vehicle air vent. Taking a few moments to clear your air vents of debris will prevent clogging and allow fresh air to enter your car's cabin.

Fall is finally here. Even in milder climates, some of us are walking out to the car in the morning and finding the first fallen leaves nestled between the windshield and hood. If you do see leaves cluttering this area, be sure to remove them to prevent clogging the car’s clean air vents.
leaves on air vent
Yes, those holes on the black plastic panel between your windshield and your hood are air vents, which allow air to enter your car’s cabin. If they’re covered with leaves or other debris, fresh air cannot get inside your car. If the leaves stay there long enough to get moldy, you could breathe it in, which can make you sick. You’re battling enough common cold and flu bugs this time of year, so why be part of the problem?

Regular Maintenance for Clean Air Vents

Early on in the season when it’s just a few leaves, take a moment to pick them off by hand.

As autumn rolls on, though, there will be more leaves every day for a few weeks, especially if you park under a tree. It’s worth the effort and time to clear debris from your air vents.

There will come a point towards the end of fall when trees will dump all their leaves in just a few days. To lend you a helping hand, consider buying a high-quality battery or cordless leaf blower for your car. There’s nothing like a blast of air to take the leaves off your car, restoring your clean air vents. And the right tool will be useful elsewhere, so it’s a good investment for both your car and home.

Complicated Wet Leaves

The real mess comes in the first rain (or early snow), which can bring more leaves down onto your car. The leaves will be heavy from the moisture, so it won’t be quite as easy to blow them away. It’s important to get those off the air vents as soon as possible. Not only is the possibility of mold more likely because of the moisture, but if left there to dry, they can leave imprints and outlines on the car’s finish.

Taking a few extra seconds every day to clean fallen leaves off your car can pay off in comfort, health and your car’s appearance.

Check out all the air filters available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on maintaining clean air vents, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Mike Hagerty.


Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and Previous outlets have included KFBK and in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and

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