Car air vent making noise

Hey folks,
As I’m sure most of you are experiencing, it’s darn cold in many parts of the east. -4 this morning. Anyway, driving to work today, I had my heater on about halfpower, and about 30 min. into my commute, the air vent began making a bubbling, chirping sort of noise. I turned it off until I got to work. When I parked, I turned it back on, and it was making a very loud, straining noise.

Anyone know what could be wrong? Thanks!

I’d have to guess that your air vent wasn’t making noise, although you may have heard it from there. Based on the description, I’d guess that your blower fan is on its way out or getting clogged up with debris.

You didn’t say what kind of car this is, but the blower fan is usually stuffed up into the dash down under the glove box. If you or anyone you know is reasonably handy and has some basic tools, such as a socket set, they are not that difficult to remove. It mostly requires some acrobatics for getting down under the dash. If you pull it out you may find gunk all down in there (leaves and pine needles and stuff), and if you clean it all up you might be good to go. Or it is on its way to seizing up and burning out in which case you’d install a new one.

Of course, I’m just guessing based on your description. So knowing where the blower fan is can help you confirm the source of the noise before messing around with it.

Thanks! Sorry - it’s a 2009 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix twin). My fear was that the motor is giving out, considering I’ve had to run the heat so much higher and longer due to the cold temps here. However, it could be debris. I’ll see if I can’t get a look at it to see. Thanks for the help!

I forgot to mention what you described as “bubbling.” If there was a sound that was distinctively fluid-like - gurgling water or something like that then you want to check your coolant level right away. And if you pull the fan and find any sign of antifreeze - well, that’s bad news as it probably means a leaky heater core. That would be odd on a car this young, but it certainly happens.

If you do find signs of water in the blower housing, but it is NOT antifreeze then pop your hood and check all along the cowling at the bottom of the windshield. Clean everything out of there, find and clean all drain points for this area. There are usually drains and if those get clogged up you can end up with water coming in with the air. (If it then froze it could lock up the fan and give you that ugly sound you got on restart).

Thanks. Well, I just refilled wiper fluid with deicing fluid, so I don’t think it’d be that. It did sound like a gurgling, but it turned to more of a mechanical sound. Either way, I will check my coolant level. Thanks again. I’m not much with car maintenance, so I will most likely have to take it in and endure insane labor costs.

Just to follow up, when the temperature in my neck of the woods warmed up to a balmy 45, the noise went away completely. Can the extreme cold cause such an issue? I’ll continue to monitor, especially since more arctic cold is headed in today.