Fixing a broken plastic dash vent louver

jmoller99

Own a DAD ODB2 Unit.
The plastic dash vent louver pieces pop up too easily and I seem to break off one (or both) of the tabs, so I can't get them back in.

Here is how I fix it once I've broken off a tab (in this case 2 of them - one on each end).

I ordered some 10mm long watch band spring units (on eBay, with free shipping, that amounted to 99 cents). These are 1.5 mm in diameter (1/16 of an inch drill bit is slightly wider, so it works).

I drill out approx 8 mm deep into the plastic louver on the side that I'll ease into place (so it only sticks out as far as I can compress it all the way). The other side sticks out further (I put that end into the assembly first), so I don't drill it out that deep. If you are only replacing the one tab, its simpler.

I used a short length of metal coat hanger to get behind the snap on so I could pull the louver snap on piece together and then slide reattach the louver (like you do with a watch band).

I was never fond of how this part goes together (it's too easy for it to come apart during disassembly and reassembly). I have 3 louvers repaired in this way on my dashboard. I recently had this one pop out, so I captured a few photos of how I addressed it
 

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DougE

Member
Way to go! That is inspired. I have a vent I broke and just put a dab of glue on to hold the vane in place. Of course it won't adjust now. I will definitely copy your method.
 

Skippy and Emu

Active member
Excellent fix !
At this stage my actual louvers are ok. However, the lever in the middle that adjusts the louvers angle is so loose that it will not maintain the louvres in my preferred position. The airflow moves the louvers! My temporary fix at the moment is a tissue stuffed into one of the openings.
I shall be be forever greatful if anybody has fix for this particular issue ?
 
That's a really nice solution.

I had repaired the louvers on my 2002 initially using brad nails clipped down to size, but the "floppy-ness" finally got to me and treated my Sprinter to OEM assemblies for both the passenger and driver sides.

Knowing how fragile that louvers are, I will keep your fix handy.

Thanks,

Jim
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
I never thought to actually buy the pins.

Glad to hear that they are cheap. :thumbup:

So Man's Best Friend put his paw through my louvers. Canine 3, Vent 0.

I had some old watchband spring pins and figured I'd try those. Worked very well for installation. I set in the up/down clip first, then set the pin and let it spring back into place. The smaller pin end is probably a bit more sloppy in the vent side hole than the brad method, but is good enough for my use. Very easy to install.

It is a bit of a pain to keep the drill aligned correctly. FWIW. vic
 

glasseye

Well-known member
Brilliant!
 
An even better replacement for these cheaply made vents would be a 3d generated vent facsimile out of a more durable material. Carbon fiber? Bring it on. Anyone that comes up with a better idea will have an instant market niche.

I replaced two of mine years ago from a used parts site in Ok?, but since then a couple of the others have not held up.

3d printer aficionados out there in sprinterland, come on down. You will have an instant market advantage. Replacing these vents with the same prone to failure parts is nuts. That old saying about the fine line between sanity and insanity applies here.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
An even better replacement for these cheaply made vents would be a 3d generated vent facsimile out of a more durable material.
I hear you.

My used 2006 came with missing vent parts. Unfortunately the center operators are missing too. Otherwise I could probably cobble some replacements together out of folded aluminum flashing.

Actually I've become pretty good at ignoring the missing vents. They really don't seem to be required for my general comfort. It sure looks tacky with them missing though.


vic

Added:
Maybe something like this?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-replace-Dashboard-AC-Vent/
 
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hkpierce

'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
Thanks to JMoller for this! I just did it. Some observations.

Note by looking at the unbroken side that there is no way to slide-snap these louvers in or out. The unit must have been assembled with the face, then louvers, and finally the back piece.
PB061822.JPG

What breaks is the front's lower plastic lip
PB061824.JPG

Before starting work - especially before removing the louvers from the strip behind them - CLOSE the vent (using the dial control under the vent) so the strip clip will not fall down the hole never to be seen again.

I tried filling the broken post-holes with grey epoxy and then redrilling them out. Forget it. Two problems with that approach. First, there is virtually no play between the louvers and the walls of the vent. So the watch posts, even in compressed position, don't have any room to get by the walls and into the hole. Second, while the epoxy does hold, it simply can't take the drilling followed by the efforts to get the posts in.

Drilling has its tricks. JMoller's post shows what you are aiming for - sand off the old post(s) and drill a nice clean hole. Easier said than done.

First, depth. To reduce the depth and the chance of an off-angle punching the plain of the louver, cut off as much of one side of the post as possible. Do not cut off the whole end, as there is a single spring that must still have an equal and opposite force for the unmodified side to work.
PB101835.JPG

Us the modified post to set the depth of the bit. You are aiming to have the shoulder of the post slightly counter sunk into the louver. This picture taken before I learned about the depth issue.
PB101828.JPG

The trick is to drill fast - in and out. If not, the bit melts the plastic. The withdrawal of the bit from the hole draws material into the hole - filling it up again. And the plastic cools and sticks to the bit.

PB101834.JPG

I did not double watch-post the louvers as did JMoller. I only did the side that was broken. I don't think there is any advantage to doing only the broken side as compared to both sides due to the problem of almost no play room between the louvers and the walls.

To mount, first drill new post holes in the broken post hole locations. Then, if you have multiple louvers, start from the TOP (labeled on the louver as either R 1 or L 1 - the louvers are all labeled from top to bottom 1 thru 6). [NOTE: See Aqua Punta's post below indicating that the louvers are the same for both sides.] From under the post hole, carefully push the post into the louver, and work up and into the hole.

Now, BEFORE going on to the next ones, reattach the louver's vertical control strip to #1 louver. The reason is that the strip's top clip is oriented looking up, whereas the others are oriented more horizontally. Why is this important? Because if any of the lower clips are mounted first, there is no way to get an angle on the top clip to mount the #1 louver.

After mounting all louvers, start with louver #2 and work down reattaching the strip's clips. Real handy are at least one needle nose pliers - and taking great care to not pull the strip to mount the clip, rather hold the strip and push the louver onto the clip,such as not to damage your new posts.
 
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hkpierce

'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
For pieces most of us will never see:

The side and number (top to bottom) of a louver"
PB101830.JPG



Looking past the vertical air control rod and to the on/off butterfly flap - half closed:
PB101841.JPG

Looking past the vertical air control rod and to the on/off butterfly flap - open:
PB101843.JPG
 
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
My 2006 vents are still incomplete. By visual observation only, no measurements, it appears the the passenger and driver set (same orientation) of louvers are the same. There's a scrapped Sprinter near me. Armed with the idea that the parts can be mixed and matched I figured I'd check for some parts. Unfortunately the cab of the scrap van had burned. No intact louvers.

If scavenging parts keep in mind that they can be mixed and matched.

vic
 
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israndy

2007 LTV Serenity
This thread was timely, I just tried to remove the Sirius add on satellite radio from my vent and munged the whole thing up. I'll try the ideas posted here as it's the driver's side where I have to order the whole piece instead of just one vent.

-Randy
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder

Nautamaran

2004 140” HRC 2500 (Crewed)
Re: Is there a fix for the broken passenger side A/C vents,...or just replace?

I drilled the flap ends then poked (hot) 5/32 wire through from the insides.
If the vertical linkage has come unsnapped you can bend a flat hook from wire and use that to snap the black plastic bit back on without pulling the trim apart.

(Removing the trim is a ten minute task... pull the round dash bit up at the front, unsnap the airbag cover, remove screws and bolts, slide airbag out, remove trim and vents. DON’T remove the airbag without first pulling the negative off the battery)
 

Garandman

Member
Perhaps a dumb question but - where can you buy replacements? Do Dodge dealers still have parts available after the divorce?
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
To my knowledge the louvers alone were never available. For a dealership the dash unit comes as an assembly.

:cheers: vic
 
Perhaps a dumb question but - where can you buy replacements? Do Dodge dealers still have parts available after the divorce?
No, and after repairing my loose and broken louvers, more than once, I bought replacement for both the driver and passenger side replacement dash panels on Ebay.
installed 4 years so far and they still look and work perfectly, with no new breakage. :thumbup:
 

Kbonk

Member
FYI: I just disassembled the passenger dash panel. Figured out how to remove the outer louvers without breaking the assembly. Most of these parts are made of ABS. I just finished modeling all the lovers for the outside vents, The knob is a very complex part, save them if you can they just snap off. Should have the prototype replacements made soon End of Month 6/2019. If anyone is looking for a repair kit for these let me know which ones you need, IE: Inner or Outer
regards K
 

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