This post was originally added in 2010 but I have since added a couple of notes regarding additional failures, including how I had to handle the failure of another actuator that was located beneath the dash.

Earlier this week I was planning to watch a football game nearby, after work. I reached my destination, parked, and shut off the car. Suddenly, I started hearing a loud clicking sound on the passenger side of my dash. I restarted the car and fiddled around until I narrowed it down to the vent that draws air into the car from outside.

When I set it to recirculate air I heard the vent door shift and stop clicking. As soon as I set it to outside air the clicking started. Shutting the car off didn’t help because it always attempted to revert back to the outside air position.

Well, that ruined my plans for watching the game. I couldn’t leave the car because it would keep clicking and could potentially drain my battery or further damage whatever was making the noise. As a results, I drove back home. Of course, when I got home I was able to get it to go into the correct position without clicking.

I quickly learned that the most likely cause was a blend motor, which controls the position of the vent door. Based on others’ experiences it was mostly likely a stripped gear. The component would need to be replaced and one poster stated that he paid about $40 for the part.

Fortunately, replacing the part isn’t too difficult because it’s accessible from the glove compartment. To get the glove compartment fully open I had to push up on the upper plastic part (part of the dash) so two clips in the back of the compartment door could slip under and allow the door to open completely.

The motor that needs replacing is on the far right side. There are at least two (one on the left, which I originally removed but realized it was the wrong one). The one that needs replacing is in a bit of a tight fit. I have a 5mm socket that will fit but I’ll need a very short socket driver to actually remove it. For now, I just unplugged the power connector.

If you have this same problem I recommend that you disconnect it when it’s in the position that circulates outdoor air. The reason is that typically the windshield defrosters will only work using outside air. Of course, once you unplug the motor the car will think it’s still working so you probably can defrost without it in the right position. However, I suspect there’s a good reason the defrosters normally work with this configuration.

I ended up ordering my part from AutoZone and it was in the neighborhood of $40. It hasn’t arrived at the time of this post so I have yet to actually install it.

Here’s the post that gave me the info I needed:

2008 impala passenger dash clicking (Impala Forums)

Part: Blend Door Actuator (AutoZone)

Update: I successfully installed the new part. It was indeed a tight fit. There’s a wiring harness that runs right in between the access. I was able to un-clip one section of the harness but it didn’t give me much room to move. I didn’t have a short ratchet so I had to borrow one – a standard size ratchet was too long to work in that area. It was very tight and I had to be extremely careful to not drop the screws or socket.

Updated 09/08/2011: The other motor on the far left failed a few days ago. The part arrived today. I installed it and took a few photos during the process.

Updated 07/06/2014: Another one failed and this time it was one located in the middle of the dash. Rather than make an attempt to reach it, and possibly never be able to put the dash back together properly, I took it to a mechanic. This repair cost me over $300. The part was about $80 plus three hours of labor.

The replacement blend door motor.

Installation begins with opening the glove compartment.

The compartment drops down easily without the need for any tools. It’s just a matter of pressing up on the top in the proper area. It might take a few minutes to figure it out the first time but it does not require a significant force.

The blend motor I replaced this time is located within the red circle on the left. The first motor that was replaced is located near the circle on the right and is more difficult to replace.

This photo shows the blend motor (identified as the part with the bar code) with its power connector unplugged. Caution should be used when removing the two screws that hold it in place. If they’re dropped I’m not certain how difficult it will be to retrieve them.

Removal only requires disconnecting the power connector and two screws. You may need a screwdriver to pop the connector up without damaging the clip.

This shot shows removal of the top screw. In this case, this tool worked best, but for the motor on the right a short socket wrench is more suitable.

The faulty part removed from the car.

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Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. my problem was both them at the same time. also when i turn my ac to the max on the 2 blue sliders i get a clicking noise to . but if it isn’t all the way down it doesn’t do it …. that would be the blower motor huh ?? also i tried unplugging one then the other and that clicking was still going with either one unplugged . i could feel each motor viberating as the clicking noise was going. unplugged both and the clicking noise stopped

    • There’s a chance it’s not the blower motor but still just the blend door actuators (assuming you have this problem prior to replacing the actuators). It’s possible that when you had the fan turned all the way down that the blend motors were working just enough to return to their resting positions and stop but when you cranked it up the car tried to open the air duct/vent doors but sensed they weren’t in the proper position.

      I had the impression that the resting position is the same when the car is powered off or the outside vent is being used. If the system senses that the motors closed the doors then it seemed to stop trying (the clicking stopped). However, when mine failed I had to physically disconnect them. Even with the car turned off the system still seemed to think that the bad blend motor hadn’t closed the appropriate vent door and it kept clicking until I disconnected it.

      At one point I was able to prevent the click by running the A/C and circulating inside air but as soon as I shut the car off it started clicking when it tried to set the door to the vent position (I think). I hope this helps – I may have misunderstood what you’ve posted.

      • i haven’t replaced my motors yet but they are disconnected . my air conditioning still works and adjusts to where i set it . but when i turn the air onto the max it clicks . I was also experiencing the clicking noise when my car was off . even if i hadn’t used it for 2 days . i was sitting on my porch and heard the clicking while the car was just sitting there and no doors were opened in that time period. i just ordered the motors today . so it will be about saturday before i get them . but the ac clicking noise still goes with the 2 motors disconnected

      • I don’t work on my vehicles very often so I’m not an expert but I would suspect there’s another blend motor that may be a problem. I would expect the blower motor to simply shut off but the blend actuators clearly need to reset to a certain position and may keep clicking until they reach that position.

        I looked through my Haynes manual but couldn’t find a reference to any of the blend motors (including the ones that I’ve replaced). I think I had read about a third motor someone toward the center of the dash in another forum posts, but I’m not certain. It might be a blend door that directs air to the floor. If you haven’t already done so, try adjusting the dial that controls the different blend doors to change the direction of airflow. For example, try setting it to send air to the floor to see if that changes the clicking in any way.

  2. i recently installed the one actuator that is bad and it is still clicking, not sure if it is the actuator or not any info would greatly be appriciated

    • well i had replaced my left actuator and it was still clicking i think its my control arm on the driver side because with both actuators unplugged i thought it was not clicking anymore but the i opened my driver or passenger door and the clicking start ed again with both actuators unplugged and the clicking is coming from under the steering colum

    • Cody,

      About the only advice I can offer is to try to get close to the sound and determine where it is coming from. In my car there are two actuators behind the glove compartment so the sound could seem to come from the same place. I’m sorry I don’t have more advice to offer. If the sound really is coming from the same actuator that you replaced then you could check to make sure that it’s properly mounted and lined up.

      Hopefully the new part that you just installed wasn’t also bad.

    • Hey Cody,
      I have a 2008 Impala & replaced the left actuator behind the glove box not knowing that there was one on the right side also. After replacing the left one, the clicking sound was still there. That is when I found out by a mechanic that there is one on the right side & it is the right side that mostly fails. So I took off the new one I put on the left side & put back the original to the left side & used the new one for the right side & now everything is fine. (want to point out that these actuators can only go on one way. I was finding out that the screw holes were not lining up. So I turned on the car which allowed me to move the door manually & screwed the actuator with the door halfway. It was the only way that the holes for the screws would line up. The door didn’t stay half way. It re-calibrated itself to open & close fully.) So understand, we are not mechanics but we are trying to save a buck. It will take us a little longer than the mechanics but I ended up saving $200.00.
      Good Luck, Cody

  3. also i opened up one actuator and all the gears inside was still like new

  4. I found that I could actually see the actuator trying to stutter, and also, with my fingers on it, feel the clicking. This prevents changing the wrong one. The Dealer showed me that the damper slot has to be ‘up and down’ or ‘ round side toward the electrical connection. The unit has 7 clips that can pried open with a screwdriver allowing you to rotate the slot in the correct position. This saves about $40, but be sure all of the geer teeth inside are in good shape, or it could happen again.

  5. I have a Chevy 2008 Impala that is doing the same thing as mentioned above. I replaced the motor and it started to act up again. I removed the motor again and tried to rotate the arm that the motor attaches to. It was hard to turn without using pliers. Is there a simple way to get at the door to free it up? Also something must trigger the motor to stop and start any ideas on what that is?

  6. Excellent post, thanks! You pictures saved me a bunch of effort as another post a different site recommended pulling the glove box hinge pins (unnecessary step). I did find that once you drop the glove box down off the 2 plastic latches, if you remove the 3 screws holding the glove box lock assembly (T15 Torx works there) and the 4 Phillips screws holding the plastic onto the face plate, you will get a bunch of extra arm room to work with. As a clarifying point on diagnosing which actuator is bad, the right actuator controls the fresh air/recirculating blend door, and the left actuator controls the warm/cold blend door for the passenger side. Mine was the fresh air side that failed. also it seems this info is good for a number of newer year models of Impala as after 2007 they were pretty much similar, mine is a 2009 and the instructions were good for that one. Thanks again!!

  7. I own (just finished paying off in fact) a 2008 Impala. Do you think you post the part numbers and descriptions for all 3 of the “blend door actuators”? At this point I 2 failure points ….. one on the passenger side and the other dead center of the dash. The one I would like most is the one that found in the center of the dash, the others would be a time saver thought.

    Thank you,

  8. I own a 2009 impala and I do not have a clicking noise but only have air coming out the vents, no defrost or heat. When I switch between the defrost/floor etc the blower slows down like it should and then speeds up like the motor moved to the right position but the damper did not ANY HELP?


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