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:
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 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.
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.