Car Air Recirculation Not Working: Causes and Fixes

If you live in Las Vegas, you won’t wish to drive in a car with an air recirculation issue. In a year, the city sadly boasts 78 days of high temperature, reaching 37 degrees Celsius. Tell me how your car AC or car blower motor won’t be in perfect condition 24/7.

Plus, the recirculated air from inside the cabin must easily come out, free from clogs. But, what happens when the car air recirculation system isn’t working? Let me answer you in this short article.

What is Car Air Recirculation and How Does it Work?

Air recirculation does is to cool down your car cabin quicker while making the inside colder when the AC is on.

Besides, it relieves your air compressor and car blower motor a lot of stress. When you first switched on the AC, the air recirculation system helps recirculate the cool air coming from the AC.

Truth is, the longer the recirculated air stays on, the cooler and colder your car gets. If you deactivate the air recirculation, there are consequences.

First, your vehicle will rely on and use warmer air from the outside.

Secondly, the AC will need extra work to cool down the hot air. What it implies is that much pressure will be on the air compressor. 

Apart from reinforcing your car AC, air recirculation also helps prevent unpleasant smells or exhaust fumes from entering your car. Car owners suffering from hay fever can also use air recirculation to stop pollen.  

Why is Air Recirculation Not Working and What Fixes?

Another way to ask this question is, ‘why is car AC not blowing air through the vents?’ Here are some of the reasons. 

Blocked air intake

The car air recirculation won’t work if the air intake or duct is blocked. Typically, air enters your vehicle through vents.

Alternatively, the air gets in through the recirculated air from inside the cabin. If either of these channels is clogged, the amount of air entering the car will be insufficient. Hence, air recirculation won’t work. 

Fix: The thing to do is to unclog and clean the air filter. Usually, if there is debris, dirt, or gunk along the intake, the vents will blow little or no air. To clean the air filer, take the following steps:

  • Remove the filter, but be careful not to allow the debris to get into the intake or airbox. Take off the filter housing (if applicable) to remove both the wing nut that fastens the filter to the system and the outer element on the filter.
  • Spray the air filter with air filter cleaner and allow it to soak. Then rinse the filter using a garden hose or faucet. Rinse both the interior and exterior, but be careful not to allow dirt to get into the fiber of the filter.
  • Shake off the filter to dry any excess water. Make sure you don’t wring or stretch the filter.
  • If you’re using an oiled filter, oil and reinstall it. Apply the oil evenly on the filter.    

Blown Fuse

A blown fuse in the vent system or bad relay can cause air recirculation not to work. A fuse provides power while a relay prevents surge.

After all, without power, the AC, air recirculation, or air compressor won’t work. With power, the car blower motor can blow air through the vents.

A relay regulates the electrical current air recirculation needed for a vent. But once it gets bad, it won’t regulate well. 

FixYou’ll need to replace the in-vent blown fuse or bad relay. This way, you can restore power to the entire system. 

Faulty car blower motor

A faulty car blower motor can cause air recirculation to fail. There are symptoms to look out for before you can suspect a failing blower motor.

A hot or burning smell coming from the air vents or a tripping circuit breaker will indicate a bad blower motor.

You may also notice strange sounds coming from the blower if the blower gets bad. Another symptom of a failing blower motor is no or low airflow from the vents.  

Some of the causes of a faulty blower motor include wear due to age, excessive moisture, and overheating. When there’s a buildup of dirt or debris in the vents, the blower motor will damage due to burnt-up windings and bearings.

Fix: The only thing to do to fix a bad blower motor is to replace it. An advanced DIY for blower motor replacement isn’t a bad idea but it takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete.

In most cases, I’ll recommend you leave the job to a professional to handle. 

Leaky Hoses and Detached Belts

The air conditioning system features several hoses and belts that activate the system to work. When these parts have blockages, leaks, or detachments, the quality of air flowing from the events will be poor. Besides, airflow will reduce drastically. 

Fix: While I will recommend changing any faulty parts, fixing a leaky hose is fairly easy. The starting point is clean the affected area of the hose with clean soap and water. You can remove the dirt or grime. Allow it to dry before applying rubber cement or glue. Wrap the glued area with tape.


When Should I use Air Recirculation?

Well, it depends on you and the weather in your area. Typically, you can drive with an enabled air recirculation button when you’re using the AC.

Again, you can turn on air recirculation in hot weather and in summer. Another time you can activate the button is when you’re stuck in dense traffic as a way of stopping or reducing pollution entering your car cabin. 

When Should I switch off air recirculation?

There are genuine reasons you can shut off the air recirculation. In case you load your car with passengers, you’ve got to switch off air recirculation.

Else, you may get drowsy due to the stuffy condition of the cabin.

Also, if you’re driving in winter or cold weather, the air recirculation button needs not be on. 

At another time, it can automatically shut itself off, too. If you observe that fog is forming on the windscreen and windows, air recirculation can be deactivated. 

Final Thought

A ‘car air recirculation not working’ message is a dangerous signal. Does it call for panic? No. Air recirculation can actually trap humidity. You can only recirculate your car when the weather is hot or during summer.

As you can see above, when interior air recirculates, your car becomes more fuel efficient. There are other reasons why you should let air recirculation works at the appropriate season.

  • James Smith

    I'm James Smith, a car enthusiast and a content writer for Daily Car Tips. I have a passion for all things cars, from classic muscle cars to the latest electric vehicles. When I'm not writing about cars, you can usually find me tinkering with my car or checking out the latest automotive trends.

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