The modern automotive HVAC system offers a number of different capabilities to help keep drivers and passengers comfortable during hot or cold weather. There’s the air conditioning system, the heater, and the vent system (which doesn’t use either the heat or the air). If you’re wondering how to have the vents set to cold without the AC on, it’s pretty simple (although probably not what you think).

To set the vents to cold but not engage the AC system, all you need to do is make sure the temperature selector is set all the way to cold. Now, turn on the fan to the desired level. Depending on the temperature in the cabin and the exterior temperature, you may want to adjust the recirculate/fresh air setting. Keeping the system on the “recirculate” setting will pull air from the cabin and blow it back in again. Switching to the fresh air setting will pull air from the outside into the cabin.

However, understand that unless you turn on the AC, your car will not cool the air. Adjusting the temperature selector to cool with the AC off only keeps the heater off. The air blown out of your vents will be either the same temperature as your car’s interior (recirculate), or the temperature of the outside air (fresh air). Your car cannot actively reduce the temperature of either the inside or outside air without turning on the air conditioner.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Can I Have the Vents Set to Cold Without the AC on? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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