Alaskan Malamutes don’t like the heat – they were born to be in cold environments.
With this in mind, it was time to modify the existing air conditioning to make it more doggy friendly!
This modification is done in two parts. The first part revolves around diverting the air flow from the rear footwell and the second part is around making the pipework to get the cold air in to the back of the car.
Part One – Diverting the air flow
The rear section of the centre console contains two vented outlets for the heater / air conditioning to warm or chill the feet of the rear seat passengers. You can see the vents just under the cup holders in this picture.
I can count on one hand the number of passengers I’ve carried in the rear of the car in the last year so not being able to heat / chill their feet was not something I needed to worry about.
It was time to get inventive and work out a way of diverting that cold air conditioning flow to the boot / trunk area of the car where Eska travels.
Removing the rear cover (some US versions of the Nitro have a power outlet here, the Euro spec Nitros don’t have this option) revealed a nice big hole in which I could install a new pipework outlet.
The next step was to disconnect the battery.
Hidden underneath the centre console is the control module for the air bags. You do not want these going off accidentally. Disconnect the battery and leave it 30 minutes before doing anything else.
With the battery removed and airbag capacitors discharged it was time to remove the centre console and see what sort of pipework was in place for the rear vents already.
There is one pipe that runs down the right hand side of the centre console, then splits in two to feed the left and right footwell (note the airbag module with the yellow warning sticker in the middle).
The pipe simply unclips to remove it completely.
You can see how it sits under the console in this picture.
It’s the full width when placed underneath.
The hard part now was working out where best to cut this pipe along its length in order to attach my new pipework. The pipe is all manner of diameters and it changes shape in both height and width along its length so some careful measuring was required.
My plan was to cut the OEM pipework and attach 40mm plastic pipe in order to keep a high air flow going.
I took the plunge and after much (much) careful measuring, I made the cut at the point where the original pipe was as close to 40mm in diameter as possible, and on a straight, not one of the many bends and kinks in the pipe.
You’ll notice the OEM pipe is square, my new pipe was round. A little heat applied to the OEM pipe soon fixed that and allowed a near-perfect fit.
The tiny gaps on the edge were sealed with silicone sealant.
Putting the new pipe in place and refitting the centre console allows you to see what length to cut the new pipe too.
Make sure you cut the pipe back far enough to allow room for a 90 degree bend in order to kick the pipe upwards.
The finished pipe will look something like this. You’ll notice I’ve used push-fit connectors. This is to allow the ducting to simply “plug in” to the rear of the console and will allow easy fitting and easy removal. More on that later.
Part of the centre console will need cutting out (don’t worry, this gets hidden later on) to allow for the new pipe work to sit quite high up inside the console.
Then a neat hole needs to be cut in the cover for the new pipe to exit.
Which when tidied up, re-assembled and finished should look almost like the factory put it there!
And that concludes the hard part! The next bit is easy in comparison 🙂
Part Two – Ducting for the rear
Now we need to get the air from the back of the centre console, up and over the rear seats, while imposing as little as possible on any potential rear seat passengers as possible.
First things first, we have just one air outlet on the centre console, this needs splitting in to two in order to supply a nice even flow of air to the rear.
Because no one makes a 40mm Y-piece I had to make an offset arrangement which looks a little odd on its own, but is required in order to give us centralised air distribution.
To the left side of this pipe (in the above picture) then we attach a single straight piece. This straight piece literally then “plugs in” to the centre console. The two new outlets will sit at the back of the rear seat base.
And from another angle.
All that remains now is to fit two upright pieces of pipework and attach some 90 degree bends with very short straights attached to them to get the air over the back seat. You’ll notice the two rear seats are still completely usable.
The end result then is lots of nice, cold, air-conditioned air being pumped directly (and evenly) in to the rear section of the car for Eska.
Which makes things so much more comfortable for her in the (occasional) warm weather we have here in the UK.
You’ll have seen from the pictures that you essentially lose the centre rear seat but I doubt many people use that anyway so it should be no real sacrifice.
However, even if you do need the centre rear seat, the end result of this mod also allows you to install or remove the pipework in less than thirty seconds as it just plugs in to the console with no tools required.