I used to think that mounting stuff onto a vertical vent was the most difficult of locations. I forgot about round vents. You find these in a minority of cars. Vents are a great place to mount a smartphone or GPS. It’s right around your normal eye level yet below the spot where a bad guy could see it so the location helps to minimize device theft.
So what’s the problem with round vents? Take a look at the photo. That’s a Mazda Miata. They have round vents. The vents are small and have a little knob in the middle to help turn the vent slats. Most annoying is that most round vents have unusually deep slats. There’s almost nowhere to attach a vent mount.
A car air vent mount attach using three different methods. Only one works well on a round vent.
The first type of air vent mount uses a pair of arms that grip onto and behind horizontal vent slats. When installed properly, these are very secure vent mounts. I call these the original air vent mount since this is the first type that was released over a decade ago. These do not work well on round vents because of the increased depth of these types of vents. Typically, the arms aren’t long enough to attach securely.
The second type was introduced fairly recently. They have a grip on the back shaped like the letter X. They slip firmly onto the slats. Works well on horizontal and vertical vents. Not so much on round vents because that little knob in the middle gets in the way.
The third type of car air vent mount is what I recommend for round vents. This is the type that has a clip-on or vice on the back. These work best because the connection point is small. The knob in the middle doesn’t get in the way and the depth of the vent doesn’t matter. I prefer to put the vents in vertical positioning and then attach these types of air vent mounts to the right of that center knob. You get some air flow directed to the driver and the knob isn’t in the way.
Let’s look at a few different mounts that have the best attachment for round vents.
First, let’s consider the Square Jellyfish Jelly-Grip Car Air Vent Mount for phones. This is one of my favorite vent mounts. The cradle opens to 3 5/8 inches so it’s going to fit almost all phones with or without a case or skin. I use this holder for my big giant LG V30 in a thick Otterbox Defender Case and it fits perfectly. The mount itself uses a small clip-on mechanism so it fits round vents just fine. The mount swivels into landscape or portrait mode. The cradle grips the phone tightly from the sides.
Nice feature about the Square Jellyfish mount is that the cradle comes off to expose a 17mm ball which is common to all Garmin vehicular GPS cradles. The back of the cradle has a 17mm socket that fits the ball on the mount.
For a GPS, consider the Arkon Magnetic Air Vent Mount. These mounts include a very thin metal strip that will attach to the back of your GPS. Attaching your GPS is as simple as holding it up to the vent mount. This vent mount will attach to round vents using the clip on the back of the mount. There is an adjustable mounting base that can be turned to orient it horizontally or vertically. This mount can also be used for a smartphone or small tablet. The key on magnetic mounts for a GPS is the back of the device needs to be flat.
The last mount to discuss for a GPS or phone is the iOttie Easy One Touch Mini Air Vent Car Mount for Smartphones. This has an expandable cradle that opens to 3.5 inches. Most smartphones and GPS devices fit well, as long as the total width is less than 3.5 inches. This spring-loaded cradle grips your device firmly at the sides. Like the other mounts, the back of the mount slips onto round vents just fine. The holder swivels into portrait or landscape.
These three mounts will work well on almost any round car air vent. The key is the attachment type because not all car air vent mounts work on a round vent.