What to Do if Your Vape Cart Won’t Hit

Published Fri, October 28, 22

There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling on a vape cart only to not receive the hit you were expecting. A cart can fail to hit in a few different ways, and there are a variety of reasons it might not hit properly.

In this guide, we’ll troubleshoot our way through seven steps you can take when your vape cart isn’t hitting. By the end, you’ll have at least put your vape to some form of good use.

What is a vape cart?

A vape cart is a disposable cartridge that’s designed to attach to the end of a rechargeable battery. Inside the cart is a tank that contains a type of extract, usually from cannabis or hemp. While vape carts are very convenient and offer a potent method for using cannabis extract, they are prone to certain common issues that often stymie newbies.

Why do vape carts stop hitting?

The most common reason a vape cart stops hitting is due to a clog in its airway, but it’s also common to fully deplete the battery attached to your vape without realizing it. No vape cart tank is bottomless as well, and it’s possible for vapes to become physically damaged, preventing them from functioning normally.

Step-by-step guide to troubleshooting carts that won’t hit

Ready to find out what to do when your vape cart won’t hit properly? Start with step #1 below, and keep making your way down the steps until you meet with success:

Step #1: Check for clogs

The first and foremost reason your vape cart might not be hitting is that it is clogged. Thankfully, clogs are very easy to diagnose — they’re the only common problem plaguing vape carts that restricts the flow of air through the cart.

If you suck on the end of your cart and meet with resistance, therefore, that means your cart is clogged. The most common substance a cart can get clogged with is cannabis extract residue, which accumulates on the interior of the cart’s airway as you use it. If you keep your vape cart in your pocket or otherwise store it improperly, though, foreign substances could also get caught inside the airway of your vape.

Clogs caused by cannabis residue can usually be cleared with heat. Either apply a hair dryer or find another way to gently heat the vape, allowing it to cool periodically and testing the clog to determine if it has cleared. Clogs caused by foreign materials are harder to clear — you can try poking a needle through the mouthpiece to manually clear a clogged cart’s airway.

Step #2: Look at the tank

Air flows through your cart just fine, so it isn’t clogged. The next step you should take is looking at the cart’s tank to make sure it still contains extract.

With the vast majority of vape carts, this step is very easy. Most vape carts are cylindrical and have either glass or transparent plastic walls, allowing you to check the remaining amount of cannabis extract with a mere glance.

Taking a closer look, you’ll notice that at the base of the silver cylinder visible inside the vape cart, there are a series of small, white holes. These holes allow extract to pass through the tank and onto the coil, and if they are exposed, air will pass through instead of cannabis concentrate. If the holes are completely uncovered, your vape will soon cease hitting once the residual extract left on the coil has been vaporized.

Step #3: Charge the battery

There’s no clog, and your tank contains a sufficient amount of cannabis concentrate to produce vapor properly. Why, then, will your vape cart still not hit?

Have you checked the battery? An average vape battery lasts for 3-7 days of normal use, and you’ll need to recharge it after that time to continue using your cart.

In fact, vape batteries work best when kept as close as possible to full charge, so you should be monitoring your battery’s power level anyway. Experienced vape cart users generally keep at least two batteries on hand so they can charge one while they use the other.

Step #4: Evaluate the hardware

Battery, check. Airflow, check. Tank level, check. What, then, could be the issue?

Next, take a look at your vape for any signs of physical damage. The tank could be cracked, the battery’s charging port could be broken, or there could be residue on the connection point between the cart and the battery, preventing full voltage from flowing through.

Step #5: Try a different battery

Even if it certainly appears that there are no issues with your current cart-battery vape combo, the next step if your vape still won’t hit is connecting your cartridge to a new battery. Remember as you do so to check the connection point on the bottom of the cart — that’s the large, exposed, donut-shaped flat metal piece on the very bottom. Remove any residue with a rag or fingernail.

Step #6: Try the no-battery approach

Sometimes, there can be no hope that a cartridge will work with any battery, but there’s still extract inside. While some might consider it to be “ghetto,” there’s a way you can hit any cart with a working coil without a battery. Grab an Android (microUSB) charger, and get ready.

We offer more detailed instructions here, but essentially, you’ll need to cut the “head” off the cord and expose the black and red wires. Keeping the rest of the wires out of the way, place the black wire inside the hole on the bottom of your cart, and lightly touch the red wire to the metal threading just outside the hole (the threading that screws into a battery).

Instantly, your vape should start producing smoke. Keep in mind, though, that this approach activates your cart’s coil at full voltage, providing a hit more intense than what you might be used to.

Step #7: Remove the extract

If your cart won’t hit even when you “hotwire” it, that means its coil is gone, and there’s no more hope. At least, there’s no more hope for the cart, but there’s still a chance to save the oil inside.

Standard 510-threaded vape carts fit oddly well inside old 9mm ammunition trays. Grab one of those, or find another way to prop up your cart on top of a cookie sheet, and then pop it in the oven at the lowest possible temperature setting.

Keeping a close eye on your cart’s progress, keep it in the oven on “Warm” until all the extract inside has dripped through the bottom. You can then gather together the drippings and use it for dabs or edibles. 

Getting the most out of a broken vape

Encountering a vape that won’t hit can be seriously frustrating. As you’ve learned in this guide, however, there’s always a way to salvage at least some of the value from even the most broken of vapes. Don’t give up, and refer to the steps we covered above whenever your vape cart experience goes south.

Fixing a vape cart that won’t hit FAQ

Learn more about unclogging a stubborn vape below:

Why is my new cart not hitting?

Unfortunately, the most common reason a brand-new cart won’t hit is that its coil is defective. There’s nothing you can do to save the cart in this case, but it’s still worth making sure a clog isn’t the problem or even trying to hit the cart manually with an Android charger before you melt down the extract inside for dabbing or topping flower.

How do you fix a defective cart?

If your cart is genuinely defective, it’s usually not possible to repair it. The most common way a cart can be truly defective, after all, is if its coil doesn’t work — all other issues can relatively easily be overcome. If your cart is totally defective, simply salvage what oil you can, and move on to the next one.

Why is a cart not hitting even though it’s not clogged?

A clog isn’t the only reason your vape cart might not be hitting. If air is passing through your vape fine but it still won’t smoke, check the battery levels, make sure the tank is full, and try hitting it with a different battery as your first troubleshooting steps.

Why is it that my cart has airflow but no smoke?

If your cart has proper airflow but it still won’t produce smoke (vapor), here’s what you should do:

  • Check the battery level
  • If the vape still won’t hit, try a different battery
  • Check the level of extract in the tank
  • Make sure the vape hasn’t been damaged

Why is my delta 8 disposable not hitting?

Delta 8 disposables are subject to the same issues as other cannabis or hemp vapes, namely clogs, drained batteries, and defective coils. As with other types of vapes, the most likely reason your delta 8 disposable won’t hit is because it’s clogged, but use the full troubleshooting steps above to get to the bottom of things.

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