5 Signs of Active Grill Shutter Malfunction

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grill shutter malfunction

If you’re a Ford or Chevy car owner, it’s important to be aware of the signs of active grille shutter malfunction. Many drivers don’t even know that their car has this feature and may not know what to do if it starts acting up.

The most common problems with the active grill shutters are getting stuck open or closed, noise while opening, broken links with the PCM, or they stop working altogether.

This article will discuss the five main symptoms of problems with the active grille shutter system. We’ll also talk about some of the causes of these problems and how you can get them fixed.

Importance of Aerodynamic Drag in Exterior Design of Cars

One of the most important aspects of car design is aerodynamic drag. Aerodynamic drag is the force that opposes an object’s motion through the air.

It is caused by the interaction of the object’s surface with the air molecules around it. The faster an object moves, the greater the aerodynamic drag. This force can significantly impact a car’s fuel economy and performance.

Aerodynamic drag increases with the square of the velocity, so even small reductions in speed can result in large reductions in drag. For this reason, reducing aerodynamic drag is one of the most effective ways to improve a car’s fuel economy.

In addition, reducing aerodynamic drag can also improve a car’s performance by increasing its top speed and acceleration. There are several ways to reduce aerodynamic drag. One is to streamline the car’s shape, so it easily cuts through the air.

Another is using materials with low drag coefficients, such as carbon fiber or aluminum. Finally, engineers can use wind tunnel testing to fine-tune a car’s aerodynamic properties.

While reducing aerodynamic drag is important for both fuel economy and performance, it is not the only factor that must be considered in car design.

Other factors, such as weight, rolling resistance, and engine efficiency, also play a role in determining a car’s overall fuel economy and performance. However, by reducing aerodynamic drag, automakers can make significant improvements in these other areas as well.

What is Active Grille Shutter? How Do Active Grille Shutters Work?

An active grille shutter is a system that helps to improve a car’s aerodynamic drag. The system consists of two parts: the shutter and the controller.

The shutter is a movable panel that covers the opening of the car’s grille. The controller is a computer that regulates the movement of the shutter. The active grille shutter system works by closing the shutter when it is not needed, such as when the car is at cruising speed.

This reduces aerodynamic drag and improves fuel economy. The system also opens the shutter when needed, such as when the car is stopped or driving at low speeds. This allows air to flow into the engine compartment, which helps to keep the engine cool and prevents stalling.

The active grille shutter system is a relatively new technology and is not yet available on all cars. However, it is becoming more common, and the system is expected to become standard on all vehicles in the future.

What are the Most Common Active Grill Shutter Problems?

Active grill shutters are a relatively new technology; however, like any new technology, there are bound to be some problems that arise as it becomes more widely used. Here are some of the most common active grill shutter problems that have been reported:

1. Grille Shutters Not Closing or Opening:

This is probably the most common problem reported with active grill shutters. The problem seems most prevalent in cold weather and is usually caused by ice build-up on the shutter or controller.

There are various other reasons why your active grill shutters may become stuck. One possibility is that the shutter motor has failed and will need to be replaced.

Another possibility is that the link between the shutter and the motor has become disconnected or damaged, preventing the shutter from opening or closing properly.

In some cases, the problem may be as simple as a build-up of dirt and debris on the shutter blades or in the tracks, which can prevent them from moving smoothly.

2. Improper Alignment of Shutters:

Active grille shutters are a common sight on many modern cars and trucks. However, if these shutters are not properly aligned, they can cause several problems, including decreased fuel economy and increased engine noise.

Improper alignment of active grille shutters is often the result of an incorrectly installed or damaged shutter.

Sometimes, the shutter may be misaligned due to a manufacturing defect. Regardless of the cause, misaligned shutters can significantly impact fuel economy and engine noise.

To ensure optimal performance, it is important to have your active grille shutters professionally aligned. This can be done at most auto repair shops and will ensure that your shutters are properly positioned to provide the best possible aerodynamic benefits.

3. Uncalibrated Sensors:

Active grille shutters rely on sensors to determine when to open and close. These sensors are located in the front of the car and are used to measure the amount and direction of airflow around the vehicle.

If these sensors become dirty or damaged, they may not be able to measure the amount of airflow accurately. This can cause the active grille shutter system to open or close at the wrong time, leading to decreased fuel economy.

In some cases, it may be necessary to replace the sensors if they become too damaged or dirty. However, cleaning or calibrating the sensors in most cases will fix the problem.

4. Blown Fuse:

An electric motor powers the active grille shutter system and a fuse controls this motor. If the fuse blows, the system will not be able to function properly.

Replacing the fuse is a relatively simple task and can be done at most auto parts stores. However, if the fuse continues to blow, it may indicate a more severe problem with the AGS system.

5. No Link With PCM:

PCM is short for the powertrain control module. It is an electronic control unit that regulates many engine operations in your car, including the Active Grille Shutters (AGS) system.

The PCM controls the opening and closing of the shutters based on various factors such as vehicle speed, engine coolant temperature, and ambient air temperature.

If the PCM detects that the shutters are not functioning properly, it will set a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and illuminate the check engine light.

Common reasons for the PCM to detect a problem with the shutters include a broken link between the shutter and actuator, a faulty shutter motor, or a problem with the shutter itself.

Symptoms of Bad Active Grill Shutters

Several symptoms can indicate a problem with the active grill shutters.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to have the AGS system checked by a professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

  1. Check Engine Light
  2. Low Fuel Efficiency
  3. Increased Engine Wear
  4. Engine Overheating
  5. Low Engine Power

Let us understand these symptoms a bit more:

1. Check Engine Light:

An illuminated check engine light is one of the most common symptoms of a problem with the AGS system. The check engine light is a warning that pops up on your car’s dashboard when the computer detects a problem with the engine or emissions control system.

It can indicate various issues, but one of the more common causes is a malfunctioning active grille shutter (AGS). The AGS system communicates with the engine control module (ECM) to ensure that the shutters are open when they should be. If the system detects a problem, it will trigger the check engine light.

2. Low Fuel Efficiency:

If the active grille shutters are not functioning properly, it can have a negative impact on fuel economy. Active grille shutters are designed to improve a vehicle’s aerodynamic opening and closing according to driving conditions.

However, if these shutters become stuck in the closed position, it can cause significant reductions in fuel efficiency.

This is because the closed shutters increase the drag on the vehicle, which makes it have to work harder to maintain speed. This increased work results in more fuel being consumed. In some cases, the fuel efficiency reduction can be as much as 5-10%.

3. Increased Engine Wear:

When active grille shutters malfunction, they can cause increased engine wear due to the extra work the engine has to do to compensate for the added drag.

There are several reasons why active grille shutters can cause increased engine wear. First, when the shutters are stuck in the closed position, it creates additional drag on the vehicle. This drag increases fuel consumption and puts extra strain on the engine.

Additionally, if the shutters are constantly opening and closing, it can cause uneven air flow around the engine. This can lead to hot spots and increased friction, contributing to engine wear. Engine wear can be decreased by making sure the shutters are operating correctly. In some cases, replacing the entire shutter assembly may be necessary.

4. Engine Overheating:

To understand why active grille malfunction can lead to engine overheating, we must know how does a radiator work? The engine in your car produces a lot of heat when running. The radiator is responsible for cooling the engine by dissipating this heat.

When the engine is running, the thermostat opens to allow coolant to flow through the engine block and absorb heat. The hot coolant then flows through the radiator, where it is cooled by air flowing over the radiator fins.

Once cooled, the coolant flows back through the engine, and the cycle repeats. If the active grille shutter is not working properly, it can restrict the flow of air to the radiator. This reduced airflow can cause the engine to overheat.

If you notice your engine temperature gauge rising higher than normal, or if you see steam coming from under the hood, pull over and turn off the engine immediately to avoid engine damage.

5. Low Engine Power:

If the active grille shutter is not working properly, it can restrict the flow of air to the engine. This reduced airflow can cause a decrease in power.

If you notice your vehicle’s engine struggling to maintain power, especially when driving at highway speeds, it could be due to malfunctioning active grille shutters.

In some cases, the shutters may become stuck in the closed position, preventing air from flowing through the radiator fins and cooling the hot engine. This can lead to overheating and reduced power output. Though you can bypass reduced engine power.

Another potential issue is that the shutters may not open fully when they should, restricting airflow and increasing the air drag. Now, what air drag does is it puts a force on the vehicle that opposes its motion.

So, if the active grille shutters are not opening fully, it will make it harder for your engine to maintain power, and you’ll notice a decrease in performance.

What Causes Active Grille Shutter System to go Bad?

There are a few different things that can cause active grille shutters to malfunction.

1. Front Bumper Collision:

One of the most common causes of active grille shutter problems is a front bumper collision.

The active grille shutters are located behind the front bumper, and they’re made of plastic. So, if you hit something with your front bumper, it can damage the shutters.

In some cases, the damage may be minor and only cause cosmetic damage to the shutters. However, in other cases, the impact can cause the shutter blades to break or become bent. This can prevent them from opening and closing properly.

2. Water Ingress:

Another common cause of active grille shutter problems is water ingress. Water ingress can also happen if the seals around the shutters become damaged or worn out. This allows water to enter the shutter assembly and corrode the internal components.

Over time, this corrosion can cause the shutters to stick or jam, preventing them from opening and closing properly.

3. PCM Malfunction:

PCM malfunction can cause active grille shutter problems. It is one of the most common causes of such issues. If your vehicle’s PCM is not functioning properly, it may not be able to control the active grille shutters properly.

This can result in the shutters staying open when they should be closed, or vice versa. As a result, your vehicle’s fuel economy will suffer, and you may also experience other drivability issues.

How to Prevent Active Grille Shutter Malfunction?

You can do a few things to prevent active grille shutter problems.

1. Keep the grille clean: A clogged or dirty grille can block airflow to the engine, causing the active shutter to malfunction.

2. Check the shutter operation regularly: If you notice the shutter is not opening or closing properly, have it checked by a qualified technician.

3. Avoid idling for long periods: Idling can cause the engine to overheat, damaging the active shutter. If you have to idle, turn off the ignition switch.

4. Follow the service schedule: Following your vehicle’s recommended service schedule can help prevent problems with the active shutter.

5. Keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge: If you see the engine temperature rising, shut off the engine immediately and have it checked by a technician. Overheating can damage the active shutter.

6. Drive carefully: Avoid sudden starts and stops, which can put undue stress on the shutter. Also, be careful when driving over bumps or potholes, as this can damage the shutter.

7. Keep seals and gaskets in good condition: If the seals and gaskets around the shutter are damaged, it can allow water and dirt to enter, causing the shutter to malfunction.

Following these tips can help prevent active grille shutter malfunctions. If you have any concerns, have your vehicle checked by a qualified technician

How to Fix Active Grill Shutters?

Active grill shutters are a great way to keep your engine cool, but they can be a pain to deal with if they get stuck. If your active grill shutters are stuck open, it can cause your engine to overheat. Here are a few ways to fix them:

Method 1: Use WD-40

  • Remove the screws that hold the shutter in place.
  • Clean the shutter with a rag and some soapy water.
  • Lubricate the shutter with WD-40 or similar lubricant.
  • Reattach the shutter and screw it back into place.
  • Test the shutter by starting your engine and letting it idle for a few minutes.

Method 2: Use a hairdryer

  • Remove the screws that hold the shutter in place.
  • Clean the shutter with a rag and some soapy water.
  • Point the hairdryer at the shutter and turn it on to high heat.
  • Run the hairdryer over the shutter for a few minutes until you see the ice melting.
  • Reattach the shutter and screw it back into place.

Method 3: Align the Shutters

  • Park your car in a well-lit area and pop the hood.
  • Locate the active grill shutters on either side of the radiator.
  • Inspect the alignment of the shutters. They should be level with each other and perpendicular to the ground.
  • If the shutters are not aligned properly, use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the screws that hold them in place.
  • Adjust the position of the shutters until they are properly aligned.
  • Tighten the screws to secure the shutters in place.
  • Close the hood and test the operation of the active grill shutters. They should open and close smoothly.

Active Grille Shutter Replacement Cost

Active grille shutters are included in modern and high-end vehicles. Typically, these shutters are located behind the grille and open and close based on sensors that detect speed.

While this may seem like a premium feature, it’s a very useful one that can help improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

If you’re looking to replace your active grille shutter, then you’re in luck. We’ve compiled all the information you need to know about active grille shutter replacement costs.

The average cost for an active grille shutter replacement is between $250 and $650. This includes both the cost of the parts and the labor required to install them. However, there are a few things that can affect the final cost of your replacement.

If you have a luxury vehicle or one equipped with many features, you can expect to pay more for your replacement.

The same applies if your vehicle is older and no longer under warranty. In these cases, you may have to pay for additional labor costs associated with the replacement.

Additionally, the price of the replacement parts can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Active grille shutters are typically made by the same manufacturer as your vehicle, so it’s important to find a replacement compatible with your car.


Active grill shutters are a great way to keep your engine cool and reduce aerodynamic drag. But, like anything else, they can malfunction. The most common problems with active grill shutters are that they get stuck open or closed, and their connection with the PCM is lost.

This article has outlined a few ways to fix your active grill shutters. But, if the problem persists, it’s always best to take your vehicle to a qualified technician. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs.

Finally, we’ve also included some information on active grille shutter replacement costs. If you need a replacement, then be sure to use this guide to get an estimate of what it will cost.

We hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below! Thanks for reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the shutter grille problem mean?

The term “active shutter grille” refers to a problem with some car engines. When the engine is running, the shutter grille is designed to open and close to regulate the airflow into the engine.

However, sometimes the shutters can become stuck in the closed position, which restricts airflow and can cause the engine to overheat. In some cases, the problem can also lead to decreased fuel efficiency.

Is the Active Grill Shutter important? What are the benefits of active aero shutters?

Active aero shutters, also known as active grill shutters, are an important part of many modern vehicles. Active aero shutters help improve fuel economy by reducing drag when the car is traveling at high speeds.

The shutter system opens and closes based on the vehicle’s speed, allowing air to flow through the grille when needed and closed when not in use. This helps to reduce wind resistance and improve fuel efficiency.

Additionally, active aero shutters can help keep the engine cool by allowing air to flow through the grille when the vehicle is idling or stopped.

This can provide significant benefits in hot weather conditions. Overall, active aero shutters are an important part of many modern vehicles and can provide substantial benefits in terms of fuel economy and engine cooling.

Which cars are prone to active grille shutter problems?

So far, the Ford Fusion and F150, Camry, and some other cars from Toyota motor corporation seem to be the most prone to active grille shutter problems.

Other cars known to have issues with their active grille shutters include the GMC Sierra, Chevy Silverado, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Impala, and Porsche Panamera.

It’s important to note that these problems usually only occur in very cold weather conditions. If you live in an area that doesn’t experience extremely cold temperatures, you probably won’t have to worry about your car’s active grille shutter malfunctioning.

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