Before I ruin my dashboard/car, I wanted to know if my approach is correct. I don't know much about cars but logically, it seems like a simple enough task to remove vents, reach in and grab items, replace vents.

Some items fell down the center air vents in my car. I want to get them out for various reasons. I was thinking of two approaches:

  1. Remove the center dash and reach in to grab them
  2. Open the glove compartment, remove the cabin air filter and see if I can reach items in the center vent area.

I bought this plastic tool mentioned in forums to pry the dash and/or push clips in the dash to open it. I found on forums and youtube videos how to remove the center air vents in my car but I wanted to know once I get it open, how far do I have to reach into the internals to retrieve the items or can the items move to other areas in the vent system and it would take more effort to track them down than just opening the vent and reaching in? The items are some coins from a preschooler, a small spring, and a plastic holder thing from a GPS holder.

If both of these ideas are dumb, is there another way I can get to these items. The less work, the better since I don't know much about cars.

  • 2
    These questions are really hard to answer just because depending on the force of how hard they were inserted in through your vent and how much the car has been driven since then will dictate how much movement has occurred with the object. It also depends on shape, as a round object will move much easier than a cubed object ... nature of the beast. I understand your want here, I just don't think there is any way to accurately assist you. Mar 4, 2015 at 22:12
  • 2
    @Paulster2, thx for always answering my car questions =) I don't remember how long ago but I think it's been at least 6 months. Oh well, I guess I'll take my chances and open up the vents and hope the items are where I last dropped them.
    – Classified
    Mar 4, 2015 at 23:29
  • I think that's your best bet. As long as you follow the instructions you've found, I'll bet you'll be okay. Only way to find out if you can get the stuff is to look. Good luck and you're welcome as always. Mar 4, 2015 at 23:31
  • 1
    on my HOnda the fan motor is behind the glove box, so the ducts would start there and go to each output, you should just need a philips, i know when I replaced mine it was filled with leaves and hair lol Mar 14, 2015 at 5:09
  • 2
    You may be able to retrieve the spring at least by attaching a magnet to a flexible 'fish tape' of the kind you can buy at DIY shops. Worth a try.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 12, 2015 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


While the HVAC system paths will vary greatly between cars, try these first:

  • If the items are metal or contain metal, use an extendable magnet to reach straight in, or if it is further in then use a magnet tied to a string or dental floss.

Extendable Magnet

  • You can use a long hook (used in dentistry) to reach in and hopefully loop the item, or again attach it to a string/dental floss to feed it deeper into the vent.

Dental Pick

  • If both of these fail, look for the joints between the HVAC pathways where the item(s) may have came to rest. Sometimes they can be separated without removing anything else, but I have rarely been successful in getting these apart without removing some dash components.

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