Are you wondering how to reset your Ford blend door actuator?
This article will provide information on what it is, the causes for its failure, and how to reset and replace it.
What is blend door actuator?
What is it?
Blend doors are installed within the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and pivots of a vehicle. They are called blend doors because they are flat plastic panels that have the semblance of doors. They divert cool air or warm air into various vents to keep the passenger area at an optimal temperature.
Blend door actuators are also called HVAC actuators. This is a small plastic covering electric motor that regulates the vehicle’s climate control system with a few internal plastic gears rotated from one side to another.
Actuators manage mode settings such as fresh air, temperature, re-circulation modes, defrost, and mid vent. They also modulate the hot and cold settings for the right and left passenger areas. The units control the position of vents directs the flow of air to any side of the cabin. They trigger the temperature and air direction doors to move inside the heater system.
The new design of Ford blend door actuators is smaller than the old one and is compact. The new type’s shape and color (typically black) are also different. However, it fails quicker than the older version.
How it works
You may require maximum heat to blow to the passenger area when your car is cold. The blend door will be moved to direct all the heated air into the cabin in such a case. It may then be moved to divert only part of the heated air into the cabin after the vehicle is warmed up.
A blend door will be closed when cool air is needed, so heated air will be restricted from entering the passenger area. It will mix cold air and hot air to achieve the desired temperature.
The driver or passenger can select the temperature by utilizing the dual climate control system. Air circulation modes change when the car’s climate computer gives the actuator an electrical command. Door position sensors in actuators signal the climate control computer in the feedback form. These signals pass through the blend door actuator when you turn the dial to modulate the temperature or flow of air.
It might be challenging to identify a blend door actuator if you are an inexperienced mechanic/technician. There is usually one on the driver side and another on the passenger side in cars with two actuators, especially those that have backseat controls for the temperature and airflow intensity. You won’t have to remove the dashboard to reach these units in such vehicle models.
Many newer model cars have three to four blend door actuators located in various areas around the HVAC system. These actuators are usually situated on the climate control case at the back of the dash. It also can be underneath the glove box beside or on the heater box. Check your car’s repair manual or repair database to pinpoint the precise locations of its actuators.
Causes and symtomps of a failing blend door actuator
A damaged or faulty actuator can cause the blend door to stop working and lead to problems in the car’s HVAC system. It can fail like any other mechanical device. This is because its inner workings are made of plastic. If it malfunctions, you may get cold air but no heat or heat but no cold air. See the following causes of a failing blend door actuator:
- Broken Gear Set
An actuator may become defective if the plastic gear set becomes fragile and breaks. You may hear ticking or clicking sounds from the dashboard while the unit still operates before it eventually stops working.
- Burnt-out Electric Motor
Another cause involves a burnt-out electric motor that makes the unit unresponsive to commands. Nothing will happen if you move the temperature controls or vent mode.
- Loss of Output Shaft Gear Position
This happens mainly in Ford’s newer blend door actuator designs. The contact pins of the output shaft gear can lose contact with the gear track on the board.
Other less popular causes include a blown fuse and a shorted or defective wiring harness (the one that leads to the actuator).
You can prevent some problems from happening or getting worse if you look out for blend door actuator symptoms such as the following:
Noisy and repetitive knocking sounds
This noise will come from the rear of the glove box center-dash console area where the HVAC knobs are situated. It begins when you start the car or change the AC settings. The knocking sound is produced when the knob moves towards the heat side of the control. At this time, cold air will come out when the vents aren’t providing heat.
Repetitive clicking sounds
You can hear faint or loud clicking sounds from the dash when the gear teeth are grinded-down. A faulty relay might also produce this sound when it engages and disengages too quickly.
Other symptoms to watch out for are wrong temperature, inconsistent temperature, inconsistent airflow, droning sounds, popping sounds, squeaking sounds, etc. The sounds may get louder when you put on your AC or alter the temperature. The new versions of Ford’s blend door actuators have thicker and sturdier gears that don’t get broken easily. You won’t get clicking noises from them.
You can know which actuator isn’t working by operating your vehicle’s heater and air conditioner. One side will work well, while the other side will be malfunctioning. For example, cool air from the AC might be flowing correctly to the driver side, while hot air will be blowing to the passenger side.
Get a friend to help you switch the climate temp in various modes while observing the movement. The actuator won’t move as the climate temp is switched in different modes if it is wrong. Have a look at the blend door and the linkage to ensure that everything is OK.
You may choose to keep this situation in a short time if it does not affect the operation of the HVAC system. But don’t ignore it for too long. Thus, your engine can stall or shut off when an actuator goes wrong, especially when the idle goes too low. You would have to replace the actuator as soon as possible in this case. Other causes of a faulty climate control system may be issues with the AC.
How to reset the Ford blend door actuator
When you notice that your Ford blend door actuator isn’t working, you can try resetting or recalibrating it first before thinking of a replacement. The actuator may reset itself when you pull the proper fuses in the relay box. To reset it, follow the process below.
Step 1. Fuse removal: Remove the actuator’s fuses (CJB fuse 5 and CJB fuse 13) from the fuse panel in the driver’s footwell. You should do this for 60 seconds.
Step 2. Start the car: The next thing would be to start the vehicle by turning on the ignition.
Step 3. Run the AC system: This should be done for some minutes so that the HVAC system can initialize and calibrate the actuators. Calibration of the actuators will take about half a minute.
Step 4. Switch the car off: By putting the AC and the ignition off.
Step 5. Reinstall the fuses: Put back the fuses you removed earlier (5 and 13).
Step 6. Start the car again: Switch the ignition on again (yes, we know the process of putting the ignition and HVAC system on and off can be a hassle). Wait for 30 seconds before verifying the proper mode door actuator operation.
Step 7. Test the Reset: See if the blend door will work correctly or if the fault symptoms have stopped manifesting.
Step 8. Plan B: A relay diagnosis or climate control module check should be your plan B if the reset fails to yield positive results. These should be done before deciding to replace the unit.
What should you do if the reset fails?
You may do the reset but discover that the blend door is not still performing its role effectively. For example, you may set it to blow cold air but realize that you are still getting hot air. Another instance is a case where it blows cold air every once in a while but then switches back to hot air without being set to do so. This random function may mean that you have to go for a plan B.
Diagnosing the air-conditioning relay
You should locate the AC relay to test it with the aid of the vehicle owner’s manual. Try shaking the relay after you pull it out. If a rattling noise is produced, replace it with the correct spare part. A relay costs about $15.
Diagnosing the climate control module
A Ford scanner can perform pulling codes and monitor the blend door position and needed commands to diagnose the climate control module. You should own a Ford IDS (integrated diagnostic system) scan tool, which is the current OEM diagnostic tool for all dealers in Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars. It covers all Ford models from 1996 till date.
Getting the system to diagnostic mode without a scanner
You can also get your Ford to diagnostic mode without a scan tool and resolve an issue not involving a broken blend door, which works on models with dual heat/cool controls. It may just be a stuck blend door when you get warm air on the driver side but cold air on the passenger side (if you chose heat for both). Implement the method below to run diagnostics.
- Step 1: Press the heater button and the AC button simultaneously and hold them down for about two seconds.
- Step 2: Release the two buttons.
- Step 3: Push the heater button again for the system to run diagnostics. The vents will blow air in a cycle for about 20 seconds during this phase.
- Step 4: Look out for codes at the top right and left corners.
- Step 5: Press AUTO to reset the code or any other button to exit diagnostics.
You also can test the actuators by disconnecting the vehicle’s negative terminals to pull codes. Perform a calibration after if you have a calibration machine. You should inspect the heater hoses as well to check their temperature. The problem should be resolved as quickly as possible when you realize that the hoses are hot.
How to replace the Ford blend door actuator
Tips before replace blend door actuator
Before performing a DIY blend door actuator replacement, the quick workaround tips should carry out to get the cold air and hot air in your car.
If your actuator issue relates to the abovementioned examples, you can jam the blend door to cold and lock it there. The steps below may be valid for a while before you perform a DIY replacement or take the car to an auto repair shop.
- Step 1: Take one of your old actuators apart.
- Step 2: Remove its gear/shaft.
- Step 3: Replace the current gear/shaft with the one you took out from the old actuator.
- Step 4: Slide the gear/shaft into the door.
- Step 5: Use a tape or tie strap to pin it on “cold”.
There is also a technique that can get some temporary heat into your car. It will take 10 seconds to do. Simply flip down the blend door hinge towards the heat side. Do this by reaching in behind the dashboard control knob area. Keep in mind that this isn’t a permanent solution because it has to be repeated every day—after the vehicle is parked overnight.
Steps to replace the Ford blend door actuator
Replace a blend door actuator when it reset doesn’t work. You have to access the blend door and uninstall the old actuator to perform a replacement. Follow the steps below to replace the unit.
Step 1. Purchase the right spare part and tools
You need an OEM replacement actuator and a toolset that features screwdrivers, a ratchet handle, and a 5.5mm socket for Ford cars. Thankfully, actuator spare parts aren’t expensive and only take an experienced person one or two hours to install when swapping out an old one. You can buy a non-OEM type spare actuator for as low as $25. OEM types may cost about $200. Make sure that the non-OEM type is suitable for your car.
Step 2. Safety precautions
It is recommended that your car battery could be disconnected before removing or replacing the blend door actuators. Ensure that the vehicle is switched off in any case of repair/replacement to prevent an electric shock.
Step 3. Locate the old actuator
This stage will depend on your car model. Consult your repair manual to identify the location of the actuators. You can access these actuators located in the dashboard by removing the lower dash panel or glove box. Use the screwdriver, socket, and ratchet handle to remove screws and mounting bolts.
Step 4. Remove the old actuator’s wiring clips and connector
When removing the safety clip or wiring clips holding the actuator’s wiring connector, avoid breaking anything. Undo them carefully with the aid of a screwdriver. The clips can be brittle and may break easily. Press the tab on the wiring connector and pull it off after removing the clips.
Ensure no form of obstruction on the connector, such as rust or corrosion, which could cause resistance and damage to the new actuator. It might be that an obstacle made the old actuator faulty. Use an electrical cleaner to clean the connector if there is a need to.
Step 5: Uninstall the old actuator
Remove the screws or mounting bolts that are holding the actuator in place. There are usually two or three of them. You can find some screws in hidden places. The actuator may fall off as it is unfastened, or you can wiggle it off after unscrewing.
Step 6: Turn the air door pivot
Turn the blend door manually to either side to ensure it isn’t or won’t get stuck because of an obstruction to avoid damaging the new unit. The blend door’s movement should be accessible when turning in full position. Resolve any blocking issue by removing the heater plenum and fixing it.
Step 7: Install the new actuator
Compare the old and new actuators as well as their wiring harnesses. It is a necessary check for aftermarket (non-OEM) spare parts. Proceed with the installation if you are satisfied with their similarities. Mount the new unit and fasten its screws carefully. Socket the wiring connector once you torque down the actuator.
Step 8: Test the installation
Check if you did the installation correctly by switching on the vehicle and testing its climate control system. Do this before reinstalling the glove box or dashboard cover. Ensure that all the screws are correctly tightened. Don’t fasten the first screw totally till you have screwed in the others partially to make it easier to tighten other screws.
Cost for blend door actuator repair
A visit to the auto repair shop is necessary when the reset and replacement don’t solve the problem. Professional input (mechanic or technician) will be needed at such a point, especially when the issue is beyond what your DIY repair/maintenance skills can handle. You may have to pay $200-$500 to get a replacement done by a pro. Labor costs alone may be about $75 or more.
A DIY Ford blend door actuator reset, or replacement can save you money (labor costs). It won’t be a one-time thing since there is the possibility of resolving HVAC actuator issues many times in a few years. Remember to use the vehicle’s manual to aid your repair work.