When I accidentally dislodged the vent in my truck I never thought that it would be so easy to fix. It just seemed stuck and wouldn't move. While some vents are actually broken, other just need to be replaced properly.
In order to fix your car vent, first see if you can remove the vent. Check to see if the vent body, control tab, pivot points, and fins are fine. (Use epoxy or glue to repair pivot pins and vent if needed.) Then replace the vent.
When I repaired my vent I found an easy solution to fix it, but vents attach to the dashboard in several ways, so be cautious when beginning your repair. And like I've learned from several experiences, forcing anything will just make the problem worse.
Start Looking with a Flashlight
There are many different types of vents and each may require a different method of fixing. Using a flashlight is one of the best ways to identify what is broken or if the vent just needs to be put back in place.
Before moving the vent around too much, identify where the vent is attached to the air outlet area. See if there are pins sticking out, tabs that may need to be lifted, or clips that may have spring action.
My experience has shown that I need to proceed slowly so I don't loose a piece that may get swallowed up in the vent to never be seen again. You can use your phone camera light to help you see clearly into the vent.
If you can't see any contact points try moving the entire vent if you have that kind or moving the vent fins.
Remove the Vent
The best way to check to see how you can remove your car's vent is to go online or use a owners manual to see how the vent is removed.
But if you were able to see how the vent is attached and know that you can pull it out safely without damaging the vent or surrounding area, then you can proceed.
First you should check to see if you can maneuver if our without any prying at all. In my Toyota Tundra vent, I was able to push on the top of the vent until the bottom of the vent was easily pulled out just under the contact points.
What if they don't come out?
Other cars may have vents that don't remove as easily. You may need to remove a dashboard section to get it out. On this Saturn, the vents don't come out, but you can access the contact point and see if they are in good condition.
As you look inside the vent for this car, you'll notice that the pins that are used to hold the vent in place have a home on either side of the vent housing. The only way to get the vents into place from the outside would be to maneuver it into place.
Pliers might be needed to cox it into place, but before I would do that, I would want to look at instructions to see if I could remove the section that hold the vent in place, so I don't break anything when replacing the vent.
Maybe your best source for information on your specific car model is YouTube or a dealership. When I tried looking it up in my manual I couldn't find any information on vent removal, just removing the instrument panel.
If you find out how to open the control panel or remove the housing for the vents, you can get a better look at the vent from both sides. It may be that the vent pushes in easily from the other side or you can get a better view to line up the vent and the housing.
It may only take an extra few minutes and will be worth it, if it prevents further damage to your vent.
Check the Vent for Damage
If you were able to check all the areas of the vent and found no problems, then you are ready for replacing the vent back in it place.
If your bent has a crack, you might need or want to fix it first.
For the post or pins that hold the vent in place you'll need something strong, like an epoxy mix to create a permanent bond so the contact point will be like new.
For other areas of the vent you might be fine with super glue or similar type product.
Sometimes it's not worth trying to fix because you might cause more damage trying the apply the glue. Applying a layer to the surface of the vent fin and not bending or forcing any parts out of position too much, will help you maintain the structural integrity of the vent.
The other alternative is to get a new vent. These usually don't cost to much, so it depends how important the aesthetic value of the vent is. If you can't get comfortable if the air isn't directed toward you then it might be important to replace a vent that no longer functions well.
Your comfort while driving can be impacted from vent control, so getting placed correctly or replaced can help. Below is an example of a vent and tools you may want to use to help you when replacing some vents.
Vent Related Products
Common Toyota Vent
This vent requires no tools, so you can just replace it, as long as the vent housing is still in good condition.
Trim Removal Tools
These tools are helpful when removing various parts of the car so you don't damage the plastic.
If your vent tab is broken, this is usually an easy and cheap fix. Sometimes all you need is a new tab (sometimes called a clip) if the tab get broken. Find the specific one for your car to get the right fit.
Another problem you may be able to fix easily are reattaching loose fins. Sometime you can use pliers to reattach the fins into place. See video for instructions.
Put the Vent Back in Place
When replacing the vent for my car, I just pushed the vent in and it was able to slide in and attach to both the contact points so it worked properly again. It was easy to remove and replace my vent.
I thought that I would need my pliers to coax the vent back into place, but after pushing the top of the vent, it easily slide under the contact points.
Then I could easily push the vent back in without forcing anything to move in a way it wasn't support to.
The problem I find is that I want to get things fix within a few minutes and sometimes research and patience are necessary to fix things right the first time. It will be worth the wait to get it done right and feel the satisfaction of having done it yourself, has been my experience.
When fixing your air conditioning and heating vents, it may be a simple procedure or it may take a long time to get it done right. If you do need a new vent they should not cost too much unless you go through a dealership.
Each car vent is different and may require different techniques to fix. Doing research will help you determine if you really want, and need to fix it. Determine how long and hard the steps are from start to finish to see if it's quick or a multi step process.
Soon, as you take the appropriate steps, you vent will be operating just like new.