Why is my Dodge truck A/C switch stuck on defrost?

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There are a handful of reasons why is the Dodge truck a/c switch stuck on defrost. A vacuum leak is the most prevalent cause in older models from 1998 or earlier. However, there are a few other causes that you will first have to cross-check.

The Dodge defrosts setting system is placed in the dashboard facing the windshield and front windows. The defroster has the function of keeping the windshield free of any ice build-up during cold seasons. After some time, due to mechanical complications and system malfunctions, the device may start to fail.

I will look at what the defrost setting system is to let you know how it works. We will then dive into the Dodge truck a/c switch stuck on defrost and see how serious the issue is. There are a few listed reasons below to help you identify the cause of the problem in your vehicle.

Here is where we'll dive into the Dodge truck a/c switch stuck on defrost and how to fix this issue.
In this article, we’ll dive into the Dodge truck a/c switch stuck on defrost and how to fix this issue.

What is the defrost setting in a Dodge truck?

The defrost setting on a Dodge is part of the vehicles’ heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The defroster is located inside the heater plenum on the vehicle’s a/c control dashboard. With the setting on the defroster, you can regulate the amount of icing on the inner side of the windshield.

The defroster is located inside the heater plenum on the vehicle’s a/c control dashboard.
The defrost setting is part of the vehicles’ heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

A blower motor in the ventilation system is integrated into the defroster to regulate temperature and allow air movement. The vent control system varies from Dodge to Dodge vehicles.

The old models from 1998 or earlier use the manual controls that regulate the ventilation system, including vacuum servos. Vacuum servos work by creating and managing a pressure change between two different locations.

Vacuum lines are used for this process, but they get worn out over time for various reasons. If the vacuum lines break, there won’t be any vacuum transported from the engine, affecting the defrost system.

Newer models from 1999 or later come with four or three electrical actuator motors controlled by an air conditioning control module. The control module actuates the motors, leading to an airflow and pressure difference in the vehicle, thereby controlling the ventilation.

How serious is the A/C switch stuck in defrost?

In most cases, you will find the cause of this issue in the vacuum lines or a malfunction with the blend door actuators. These causes will not affect other areas of your vehicle apart from the ventilation system, which means that the issue of the a/c switch getting stuck in defrost mode is not a severe issue.

However, the problem will affect your climate control system, which will influence how hot or cold the inside environment is. The issue will impact the temperature of the floor, heat from the vents, and the rate of defrosting.

Can I fix this problem by myself?

Yes, you can, but you will need excellent mechanical skills and several tools. Do not proceed to fix or diagnose the issue if you do not have experience fixing car issues like HVAC problems, vacuum line problems, broken actuators, and failing control modules.

It is also recommended to have someone assist you if you are skilled in fixing the issue yourself. This is because you will require a helping hand to untie some screws, pull some cables, and press on multiple devices simultaneously.

If you are not a skilled DIY and have nobody to help you with it at home, you should take the vehicle to an experienced mechanic near you.

How much is the cost of repairing this problem?

The cost of repairing this issue will depend on the cause. A faulty that requires a replacement part, like a broken blend door actuator, will cost more than fixing a broken vacuum feed line. You may choose to fix the problem yourself if you do not want to pay for diagnoses hours to your local mechanic.

Repairing this issue will take you a couple of hours which means it will be more expensive to pay a mechanic to fix it. However, if you want a professional touch, you will be looking at a price between $600 and $1000 for replacement jobs. You can spend as low as $85 to $250 for manual repair jobs like fixing a broken vacuum line.

Causes and how to fix Dodge truck a/c switch is stuck on defrost

reasons why is the Dodge truck A/C switch stuck on defrost.
4 reasons cause the AC switch is stuck on defrost.

Vacuum lines leak

A vacuum line or vacuum hose is a tube that transports vacuum power from the engine to various areas in your vehicle. They are used in older cars and a few new ones for components like PCV valves, brake boosters, and ventilation systems.

A leak in the vacuum line means that some air has bypassed the vacuum hose making it hard to maintain the vacuum power. You will need to lift the hood to inspect the vacuum lines from the engine’s intake manifold to the passenger’s side firewall.

Vacuum lines leak is one of the reasons leading to the Dodge truck A/C switch stuck on defrost
A vacuum line or vacuum hose is a tube that transports vacuum power from the engine to various areas in your vehicle.

Vent vacuum lines run from the a/c control switch on the dashboard to the vacuum servos found under the dashboard. The purpose of the servos is to move the air doors on the vents to switch between different temperatures.

The immediate indication of vacuum line leaks will be a hissing sound from under the dashboard when the Dodge truck runs. Once you start hearing this sound, pop the hood and look for a vacuum break in the vacuum lines that can cause the ventilation system to stay on defrost setting.

Make sure to locate all broken vacuum lines and use a rubber vacuum tube to attach the damaged ends. Insert one end of the rubber vacuum tube over one end of the broken vacuum line and connect the other to the other end of the broken hose. This problem should be fixed if a break in the vacuum line was the only cause.  

Read more: Coolant leak: Symptoms, causes, and fix guide

Broken or stuck blend door actuator

The blend door actuator is a motor in the HVAC system that helps control airflow and temperature in your car. The actuator works with sensors to be able to control the ventilation system. There is a temperature dial in your vehicle that you use to adjust the airflow. When you turn it up or down, that signal is transmitted to the actuator, which then turns to allow specific temperature changes.

The actuator is located in the blend door. This blend door that directs the warm or cool air to vent the vehicle is the plastic compartment usually placed on an under-trim panel.

Here are a few symptoms to keep an eye on since they indicate a broken or stuck blend door actuator:

  • Tapping, clicking, or knocking sound under the dashboard – which may indicate a broken or stuck blend door actuator that is trying to turn but is somehow prevented. It is also more likely to be a symptom if you hear the noise when you switch on the AC or turn the AC dial.
  •  Incorrect temperature and airflow – if you turn the AC dial but get incorrect temperatures and airflow, then the blend door actuator is malfunctioning. A faulty actuator will provide inconsistent outputs.

So, how do you fix the issue once you notice these symptoms? You will first have to ensure there are no other problems. Check for any stored codes and inspect other components such as the heater and heater hoses. You should then proceed to find the blend door actuator and see how it works.

Steps to fix the bad blend door actuator

Get an assistant to switch the AC in different modes as you check the actuator’s movement. The actuator is located in diverse locations on various models, so use your vehicle’s manual to find yours. In most vehicles, the actuator is usually under the glove box near the heater box.

Let your assistant switch between various AC modes as you observe the actuator’s movements. Remember that you will need a few tools such as a screwdriver and a 5.5 mm socket set to check the actuator. The actuator is faulty if it does not move when you change between the various AC modes. Ensure to also look at the actuator’s linkages and blend door because they can restrict the actuator’s movement.

Steps to fix the bad blend door actuator
Six steps to fix the bad blend door actuator.

Once you have identified the actuator as the problem, replace it with a new OEM actuator. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Remove the glove box/dash panel using the tools at hand.
  • Locate the actuator near the heater box and remove the wiring clips gently. You will need to press a tab on the connector to pull it away. Take a look at the connector to ensure there is no corrosion, and then clean it if need be.
  • Use the screwdriver to remove the mounting screws. You can then easily take the actuator out of the vehicle.
  • Turn the blend door to make sure it is not stuck, which is to prevent the door from breaking the new actuator. Turn the door in both directions to see if it moves freely. Fix any stuck parts that may obstruct the door’s movement. Turn the blower and push the door in both directions once again. If there is airflow and temperature change in the dashboard vent, the blend door is ready to have a new actuator.
  • Take the new actuator and replace it in the same spot as the old one. Do not overtighten the screws as this may break the new component or get it stuck. Finish the process by reinstalling the glove box. 
A video about how to replace the blend door actuator

Bad vacuum check valve

Dodge trucks that use vacuum lines in the ventilation control system also use check valves. Check valves are used to kick in the defroster when the car is traveling up a steep slope. This is because the engine vacuum is low at that position.

A few warning signs of a malfunctioning vacuum check valve include spongy brakes, a brake pedal is difficult to engage, and the brakes stop working. If the check valve is damaged, your car will need to be taken to a mechanic as soon as possible since brake issues can be severe. The mechanic will get an OEM replacement part to fix the problem.

Failing AC control module

The a/c control module is used to adjust all the features of an electronically controlled a/c system. It comes with a range of electrical components, sensors, and knobs on the interface for various temperature modes. The a/c module can use programmed data in the cabin and outside environment to adjust the a/c system accordingly.

A few signs that point to a failing a/c control module include lack of software updates, uneven cooling, and uneven airflow. In case you are experiencing different temperatures than usual in your vehicle’s cabin, then you may want to look at the AC control module.

The AC control module cannot be easily accessed for maintenance even though it is located in the vehicle’s dash. Which makes it hard to fix for the regular car owner, and it is recommended to leave this diagnosis to a professional.

The mechanic will check for any pending software updates for your vehicle before physically inspecting it. After that, the module will be removed after disconnecting the car battery. The mechanic will then replace the module with a new one before reconnecting the battery.

A video about how to replace the AC control module

Conclusion

As you can tell, the problem of the Dodge truck a/c switch stuck on defrost is an easy issue to fix, but it takes time and expertise. You will not spend a lot of money on the case if you have older Dodge trucks that usually have vacuum line leaks. Moreover, you can rest easier knowing that the problem is not fatal and won’t affect the drivability of your vehicle.

Read more: Engine Hot AC Off: What Does It Mean And How To Fix It?

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