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[Ben]:Huzzah! Good news! Blend Door Repair on my 2003 Ford Explorer Discuss This [0 comments so far] View Comments
No, seriously this time.

As my loyal readers who actually log in to view the front page news will know, the blend door actuator on my Ford Exploder died. In short, I couldn't adjust the temperature ... it stayed on hot at all times. This hadn't been a problem over the winter, but as temperatures start to rise over the freezing point more and more often, I've been getting a little concerned about having only heat.

The local Ford dealership wanted $700 to fix that problem, and a local repair shop wanted $500. I'm too cheap to spend that kind of money on a repair unrelated to the car's basic function of moving from place to place (i.e. engine, transmission, etc). To make matters worse, when I took it to the local repair shop to get a quote, in the process of checking it out they flicked the blend door from always hot to always cold. Just as temperatures plummeted like a very aerodynamic brick. My morning drives have been somewhat more exciting of late given that I have to drive out into sunlight before I can be sure of my windshield staying clear (the -25 degrees washer fluid I have appears to actually be rated for 31 degrees).

At any rate, I found that I could order a replacement part from a parts store for about $17 all told. $17<$700. Needless to say, I placed the order last week and have been waiting for it to come in. As of 2/17 it hadn't, so I decided to make some temporary repairs.

With just a couple of hours of futzing (using instructions found here and a couple of tips from here) I figured out how to get to the blend door actuator by taking out the center console, radio bezel and some paneling under the steering wheel. After finding it, my first reaction was "not a chance." That puppy is about the size and thickness of my palm and is crammed into a space only half-again wider between the dash panel and the heater core. Not much room at all.

After losing some skin, I finally figured out how to remove it. I pulled it and took it apart. Sure enough, the plastic gear teeth were fractured in the exact same spot as this guy's. Great idea on the junky plastic gears, Ford. Oh, and one of the shops I took the truck to forgot (or were too lazy) to put one of the screws back into the actuator. I'm not sure whether to thank them or be upset given how difficult it would have been to remove.

Considering I don't have the replacement part yet, I still wanted to get some hot air flowing. The only problem was, the blend door is spring-loaded. What to do? I took the actuator arm (the white quarter gear in the previous link) and drilled a small hole in the gear portion. Through that hole I fed a thin wire. After fitting the actuator arm back into position, I used the wire to apply tension until it reached the end of its intended travel and tied it off. Presto, permanent hot air ... again. If I really wanted to get creative, I could feed the wire through the console to have physical control over the temperature. Given the fact that the part should be coming in soon, my ideas on working out a manual control for that probably will never come to fruition.

Nate, you've got some ratcheting box wrenches, right? Do you have one in 8mm? It would be stupifyingly fantastic if you did. If not, I'm going to go buy a set as that would make attaching the new unit much, much easier.
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