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How to: Quick Blend Door Actuator removal for Gen II

Magicland

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Turns out the 97 Eddie Bauer that I just picked up had a bum Blend Door Actuator (dreaded "click of death"). I googled around for the easiest way to replace it, but no matter what, it seemed it'd be quite a challenge getting that 3rd screw (the one in back of the actuator) out.

A little "out of the box" thinking, and I had it out in under a half hour. First, you want to have yourself as small a ratchet as possible. The one I used is actually a ratcheting offset screwdriver with interchangeable heads. One of the interchangeable heads just happens to be a 1/4 socket holder. Before you do anything, unplug the actuator.

Using this (and a 5/16 socket), it was fairly easy to remove the front 2 screws. The socket I started with was a little too short to comfortably (relative term) reach the head of the 3rd screw, as the ratchet has to extend over the body of the actuator. While I was at Auto Zone, I noticed that their "Great Neck" brand sockets were about 1/4 inch longer than the one I was using, so for under $2, I picked one up. It worked perfectly.

Of course, it's still tricky getting the socket in on top of the head of the screw, but it's do-able. I found using 2 hands (by "hands", I mean fingers from each hand, wedged in) worked best for me, one wedged in holding pressure down on top of the ratchet assembly (which keeps the socket from slipping off of the top of the screw), and the other to move the ratchet handle back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth). Even with this setup, you're still only going to get one click of the ratchet at a time.

About 30-40 clicks into the procedure, I could get the actuator to lift up about 1/4 inch on the screw (the front will go quite a bit higher, and you can actually remove the shaft from the blend door). I plugged the acutator back in to verify that it was indeed the culprit. I set the heat range higher, the actutator started clicking, but the shaft didn't move. Okay, bad unit. Unplug it, and get down to work.

At this point, I was having problems getting any more clicks out of the rachet, so... You weren't planning on putting the screw back when you installed the new one, were you? You can use one of those fancy hacksaw blade handles, or do what I did, just wrap electrical tape around one end of a hacksaw blade. Slide it under the actuator (being sure you aren't anywhere near the shaft that goes into the blend door. You can prop up the actuator with something if you like, but it isn't necessary). Saw through the screw (should take less than 5 minutes).

If you get tired, or feel like you aren't making progress, step back, pull out, stretch, and go back in. It's slightly tedious, but not as tedious as screwing that whole screw out one click at a time. Once you're more than halfway through the screw, you can probably snap it by inserting a large screwdriver next to it and prying up. Any piece left sticking up will fit in the hole where the screw is supposed to be, so don't worry about it.

There you go, quick and easy. If I get a chance, I'll take a pic of the ratchet thingy I used. Now comes the hard part, finding a replacement without paying the ridiculous amount the stealership wants.
 


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96eb96

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wow..I took mine out in 30 seconds. I have a 96. I put a screwdriver under the unit and lifted it up from the quick clips. I wonder if all ex's have this setup. If you do it is really easy. To put it back I simply played with the temp control to get it into the right position. Those motors are $40 bucks online + shipping if you find the right dealer.
 




Jeff Potter

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97 Eddie Bauer
They are not all the same. Apparently being able to use a screwdriver and pry the unit off was not getting the stealerships the monies they wanted to do the replacment, so they changed them to a screw down on the 97's. At least they only put one screw in the back - there are actually two places they could have put one. I gotta say though Magicland, you were alot more patient than I was. I got the two from ones out, and then got so frustrated with the back one that I stuck a screwdriver under the front and pushed up until the back one snapped off. I have a new one on order (local Stealer wanted almost 90 bones - got one from 1stfordparts for 40 somthing plus shipping) and when it gets here I will take the little broken piece from the back of the old one and screw it onto the new one and then a dab of model glue and drop it into place. Just for fun, I am also going to crack the new one open to see if they made those parts inside with anything more durable. I doubt it, but I'm an optimist so I just gotta look. If anybody needs it, the part number is F77Z19E616BA.
 




Magicland

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I wonder if there actually was a design change, or if it's a matter of people not knowing where to put the screwdriver to pry it off? The ones for the '97's also have the clips, but the tray with the clips (which screws to the plenum), at least on the '97's, comes up over the edges of the actuator, making it hard to get a screwdriver in there and pry. Once the tray is removed, you can pop it off easily enough. I think I'm going to try and pry mine off with a screwdriver just to see if it can be done, as I'll be taking it back off to replace the blend door.

I picked up a used one from ebay for around $20, but God only knows how long it'll last. At least the shaft moves when I cycle from hot to cold and back again, with no clicking of stripped gears. $40 and change sure beats $75 or more though, and I still might order a new one just to be on the safe side.

I'm still getting nothing but hot, no matter what the setting, so I'm assuming the blend door is shot as well (even if the AC isn't working, I should get something other than hot out of the vents if the blend door is operating correctly). Picked up a replacement from Rock Auto, $15.54 including shipping. They shipped it UPS ground on Friday, I had it on Monday (and that was at least halfway across the country). Looks like the replacement door (Dorman) itself is ABS. Interesting "kit" they include. The instructions are xeroxed, so the pics aren't too clear (looks like they're going in from the top of the plenum), but they tell you to remove the plenum first (of course, they don't tell you how to do that). Then they've got a metal guide you place on the plenum and cut around the edges (dremel, rotozip, etc.) to make a hole to remove the blend door. They also include a metal plate with adhesive which goes over the hole after you pull out the old blend door and stick in the new one. I'm wondering if the same setup can be used in reverse to get in from the bottom, as that's accessible via the glove compartment. Obviously, you can cut the hole from the bottom, but having a steel template to follow sure wouldn't hurt.
 




Jeff Potter

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97 Eddie Bauer
I have seen some pics of other Ford actuators (put "ford blend door" in your browser and look at how many hits you get from other enthusiest sites and how to fix them) and where the 97's have those three screws, the 96's and earlier have a post that sticks up through and has a "catch" to hold it down. Crummy description but I am not sure how else to describe it. The actuator box itself is of course black on the bottom and white on the top, and there are 2 clips on each side that hold them together. There is no way you can seperate the two halves in the car without snapping some (if not all) of them off. In fact, I busted three of them when I was seperating it on my workbench! I just decided to go with a new one out of the gate after reading another repair procedure (I think it was on the Mark IV site) and the guy commented that for what the junk yard would charge of what you would pay off e-bay, you might as well get a new one. You said you paid $40 from e-Bay - I paid $40.12 (plus shipping - less that $50.00) for a brand new one. Prolly not a whole lot better than the old one, but it lasted 8 or 9 years (yes, I have been w/o AC for over two years putting off a relatively cheap fix) so this one should too, and to be honest, I seriously do not think I will still be owning this car in 2016 or 2017 when it goes south again!
 




96eb96

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My evaporator broke, so I will remove the plenum behind the firewall to change(thankfully no dash) it and have blend door access. My blend door gives one click if I set it on maximum temp, but very quiet otherwise. I took out the motor and saw no stripped gears so I'm hesitant to replace. I heard the dorman door wont fit thru the stock opening on the top and the metal template has a larger hole.

I'm thinking of changing the blend door thru the evap hole as PM even though it works now. I read somewhere on the web that some shop did it by taking off a small piece off the door. Maybe I should change the motor too.
 




Cobraguy

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I actually have my evap case off at the moment. Has anyone replaced the door this way?
 




Magicland

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I just decided to go with a new one out of the gate after reading another repair procedure (I think it was on the Mark IV site) and the guy commented that for what the junk yard would charge of what you would pay off e-bay, you might as well get a new one. You said you paid $40 from e-Bay - I paid $40.12 (plus shipping - less that $50.00) for a brand new one.

I paid $20 on ebay, not $40, but as I mentioned, if you can get a new one for $40, you might as well grab it, as there's no guarantee how long a used one will last before the cheap nylon gears are stripped to the point where it isn't useable anymore. One note about replacing the actuators, make sure you get the right one for your type of HVAC system. They'll have a tag on them that says either "MAN" or "EATC". The "MAN" ones are for those with manual controls (the red/blue dial), and the "EATC" ones are for those with Automatic Temperature Control. They're NOT interchangeable.

The Dorman replacement blend door (if you can find it, I think I got Rock Auto's last one) fits perfectly in the hole in the plenum, no modification required. I posted a tutorial on replacement a few days back, based on when I replaced mine over the weekend. Really simple, takes less than an hour, aside from curing time for whatever sealant you decide to use to close the flap you make in the bottom of the plenum.
 




hawkk72

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I have a 99 Eddie Bauer4 dr V6. My a/c is working as well as the heat but the air comes out the defrost and floor vents at the same time. No air comes through the dash vents no matter what the setting. Is this the same blend door problem or something else?
 




Cobraguy

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I have a 99 Eddie Bauer4 dr V6. My a/c is working as well as the heat but the air comes out the defrost and floor vents at the same time. No air comes through the dash vents no matter what the setting. Is this the same blend door problem or something else?

Blend door is temp only. Air flow direction is the responsibility of the vacuum motors. Either one or more motors, the doors they operate, or the control is giving you a problem. Actually, that isn't that hard a problem to diagnose if you have the factory manual to guide you.
 




kevinspann

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Ah, the infamous blend door actuator. I was hearing random clicks from the dash board, that seemed to coincide with a air vent temp change...so i thought it was the actuator. I got mine out with a regular short 5/16 socket, a craftsman slimline ratchet, and a wrench to unscrew that 3rd screw enough to get it out by hand (i have long thin fingers)

Anyways, get the actuator inside, take it apart...none of the gears are stripped. And theyre black in color. I got some gears out of a manual actuator at the junkyard to interchange them (the gears are the same) but theyre white...it seems as though its an updated unit. i have no idea if its ever been replaced. Either way, it the actuator isnt my problem, which is that the temperature from my vents isnt really that cold at all...
 




Cobraguy

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Did you check and see if the blend door itself is good? They can break where the actuator fits into the door.

Also, there are different actuators for manual and EATC systems. If it's clicking, something is wrong.
 




topgrizz

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no actuator

I have been reading up on all these blend door/actuator probs, and went in to give mine a shot at fixing (all heat all the time) and found out the previous owner had removed the actuator and did not replace it. So I was able to go in with my fingers and spin the top of the blend door to the max a/c position (blocking the heater core). I believe my ac needs recharged and will do that shortly to see if i have a temp. fix. The question i have is: does the actuator shut off the system?...what i'm getting at is not only do I (hopefully did i) have max heat, but when i shut the controls to OFF, heat was still coming out of the def/floor on "low fan" setting (mayb even lower than the actual lowest speed?)...anyone have any idea what else my problem could be or any suggestions for what to do?
 




lmsells

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How do I replace the ac acuator.
 




thenelson5

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I have a 99 Eddie Bauer4 dr V6. My a/c is working as well as the heat but the air comes out the defrost and floor vents at the same time. No air comes through the dash vents no matter what the setting. Is this the same blend door problem or something else?
Did you find a answer to your problem. I have a F150 with the same issue. Cobraguy said it was a vacuum motor issue. Did you find how to fix this ? Was it easy ?
 




thenelson5

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Blend door is temp only. Air flow direction is the responsibility of the vacuum motors. Either one or more motors, the doors they operate, or the control is giving you a problem. Actually, that isn't that hard a problem to diagnose if you have the factory manual to guide you.
I have the same issue as Hawkk72, but mine is on a F150. Is there something on the web to show how to fix this ?
 




zachow3

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I have a 99 Eddie Bauer4 dr V6. My a/c is working as well as the heat but the air comes out the defrost and floor vents at the same time. No air comes through the dash vents no matter what the setting. Is this the same blend door problem or something else?

Blend door is temp only. Air flow direction is the responsibility of the vacuum motors. Either one or more motors, the doors they operate, or the control is giving you a problem. Actually, that isn't that hard a problem to diagnose if you have the factory manual to guide you.

I am having this exact same problem on my '96. I dont have the factory manuals and before I start tearing the dash apart, does anyone have a diagram they can post?
 




JenK

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Does anyone know how to access the actuator in a 2002 Explorer?
 




DPCurrier

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Does anyone know how to access the actuator in a 2002 Explorer?

I know this is a year old post but iI am responding in case anyone else comes across it looking for help.

I just completed this job on a 2003 this past weekend. It involves removing a lot of the dashboard to access the actuator which sits under the dash on driver's side... on the side of the center console.

I used the following videos as a guide. The hardest part if remembering how to put everything back together so it would be wise to make a note of where screws go etc...

http://www.heatertreater.net/Ford Explorer 02+ alternate installation.html

Start with the 3rd video down on the page


Pics from my vehicle
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IMAG0617.jpg

IMAG0620.jpg

IMAG0622.jpg

IMAG0625.jpg
 


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05xltSport

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Actuator Motor replacement

DP,
Regarding your pictures, it looks like you replaced the gear inside the actuator. Can you confirm? If so where did you find the gear?

I am about to tear my 2005 Explorer apart to see what my blend door problem is.

Thanks
Todd S.
 




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