Car has no heat - Replacing the air temperature blend door on a 2006 Chevy Equinox.
Car Has No Heat:

Replacing The Air Temperature Blend Door On A 2006 Chevy Equinox

Or Pontiac Torrent

 

In This Article:

The entire dashboard area is removed, almost down to the firewall. The air duct is removed and taken apart to replace the broken blend-door.

Related Articles:

Skill Level: 3 (Intermediate) Time Taken: About 24 Hours

By Bruce W. Maki, Editor

Start:

In March 2010 the heat stopped working on my 2006 Chevy Equinox. At first I thought the problem might have been caused by air getting into the cooling system lines, because the coolant level in the reservoir had gotten a bit low. But adding coolant and trying to "burp" the system didn't fix the problem.

Upon searching the web, I discovered that quite a few people had the same no-heat problem with the Chevy Equinox and Pontiac Torrent (which is the same vehicle platform). It turns out the problem is caused by a small "door" that allows air to flow past the heater core. Apparently this "air temperature blend door" has a plastic connecting shaft to an electric motor, and the shaft is prone to breaking after a few years.

The trouble is... replacing this little part is not easy. It involves removing much of the dashboard, which takes a long time. Consequently, the cost to repair this problem at a GM dealer is around $1,000, give or take a few hundred bucks.

There was no way I was going to spend a grand on a simple repair, so I decided to tear apart the dash and take some pictures along the way.

Driver's side area of dash, 06 Equinox.

Left side of dash area.

All of the plastic parts need to be removed, and the steering column needs to be dropped down to the floor. But this is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.

 

Right side of dash area.

Every plastic part visible in this picture needs to be removed. Again, it seems intimidating... but it's a long job, not a difficult job.

Passenger side area of dashboard, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

Note that I may not have dis-assembled the dashboard in the same sequence of steps as the factory service manual. I had no information to follow besides a brief outline I found online.

Warning:

If you plan on doing this repair, I strongly recommend reading this entire article first. DO NOT just start ripping apart your car while following this article... read the notes at the end before dismantling any dashboard components.

I strongly recommend disconnecting the battery at the beginning of this repair job.

Understand that the publisher/author of this website will not be held liable for any damages or injuries caused by following the information on this (or any) web page. Follow this information at your own risk.

 

Dashboard Teardown:

Plastic panel beneath steering wheel, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

The gray panel below the steering wheel is called the "knee bolster".

I removed 2 screws with a 7mm socket, then I carefully pried the plastic part from the dashboard.

 

Removing The Glove Box:

I removed these quarter-turn plastic fasteners with a pair of lineman's pliers. Then I pulled out the black plastic hinge pins at the back of the glove box.

Click Here for more details about removing the knee bolster and glove box.

Removing glove compartment in Chevy Equinox.

 

Removing The Center Console Bezel:

Center console in 2006 Chevy Equinox.

Next I removed the center console bezel. This part is held in place entirely with "snap clips".

I used an assortment of putty knives to remove this plastic part. I wrapped masking tape on some tools to prevent scratching the plastic.

I had to put the key in the ignition and move the gearshift to neutral so the bezel could be lifted up further.

At this point I had not yet disconnected the car battery, because I wasn't sure if there was an electrical interlock between the key and the shifter. It turns out the interlock is a simple cable, so this step could be done with the battery disconnected.

I disconnected the battery after the step shown here... but it's best to disconnect the car's battery at the beginning of this repair job.

When I was able to reach behind the bezel, I unplugged as many electrical connectors as I could.

Prying out center console plastic trim bezel, Chevy Equinox.

 

Click Here for a more detailed article about removing the center console bezel.

 


Removing Console Rear Cover:

Looking straight down into the lower part of the center console, I could see some snap clips for the vertical piece of trim that covers the rear-most part of the console (just forward of the handbrake). Center console, rear panel, 06 Equinox.

 

Prying off plastic panel, console. I just pulled straight back on this small panel and it popped out.

 

Back view of rear cover for center console. There are 4 snap clips on this part.

Back view of small cover for center console, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

Removing Center Console Side Panels:

This step required a 7mm socket and a small screwdriver or tack puller.

Screw securing two side panels for center console, 06 Equinox.

At the rear of the center console, just forward of the handbrake, there were two screws (red arrows) that I removed with a 7mm socket.

 

I also removed these 3 screws with a 7mm socket.

Screw locations, console side panels, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

There are a lot of screws with a 7mm hex head in the dash. A 1/4" socket might also work to remove these fasteners.

 

Removing button fastener, interior plastic parts, General Motors. At the front, way under the dash, was a plastic clip fastener. I pried out the center button with a tack puller, and then I was able to pull out the whole fastener.

 

Close-up of plastic fastener clip. Button fastener clip, General Motors.

 

Fastener location, console side panels, Chevy Equinox 2006. Hidden by the center bezel, just below the radio, there were two more screws (one on each side).

Removing the driver's side panel was almost identical to the passenger side procedure.

 

The center console after removing the side panels.

The gearshift is mounted to a die-cast metal structure, which is bolted to the floor. These parts do NOT need to be removed in order to access the air ducting that contains the broken blend door.

Interior of 2006 Chevy Equinox with center console removed.

 

Removing radio, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

I removed the radio. There were 2 screws on each side. I used a 7mm socket.

On the back of the radio, I unplugged two electrical connectors and the antenna wire.

 

I removed this plastic panel beneath the steering wheel. There were two screws, which required a 7mm socket. Plastic cover panel below dash, 06 Equinox.

 

Plastic panel on end of dashboard, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

I removed this small panel from the driver's side end of the dashboard.

 

There are 4 snap clips on these end panels. The driver's side end panel is shown.

Back view of dash end panel, 06 Equinox.

 

Dash end cap, right-side, 06 Equinox.

The passenger-side end panel was different... it had two snap clips plus two plastic center-button fasteners (arrows).

 

I just used a small screwdriver to push in the center of the fastener... Plastic fastener with center button, General Motors.

 

Removing plastic fastener with center button or pin. ...then I used a tack puller to pry the plastic fastener out.

 

I pushed the center "rod" back out to reset the fastener so it can be re-installed later. After installation, the center rod is pushed flush with the surface. Plastic fastener for joining plastic trim parts, General Motors.

 

Back view of right-hand dash end panel, 06 Chevy Equinox.

Back view of passenger-side dashboard end panel.

 

Removing Top Of Dashboard:

The top panel of the dashboard is held in place with a bunch of snap clips. Many of these snaps can be seen through the openings created from parts removed earlier.

I used a rigid putty knife to pry on the underside of the top panel, as close to the snaps as possible to prevent excessive flexing of the plastic panel.

I placed some plastic shims under the panel as I progressed, or else the snaps would click back into place.

Prying up top of dashboard, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Hold That Thought...

Screw locations on plastic cover around steering column, 06 Equinox.

At this point I realized that I needed to remove the plastic cover above the steering wheel. I removed the 3 screws in the plastic cover below the steering wheel, using a 7/32" socket (I think this is supposed to take a 5.5mm socket, but I didn't have one).

 

With my bare hands, I separated the upper and lower halves of the plastic cover "shell" around the steering column.

The red arrow points to one of the plastic snap devices that connected these two "shells".

Separating plastic parts around steering column, Chevy Equinox.

 

Removing upper part of steering column cover. I removed the upper half, but I left the lower part in place.

 

I also removed the plastic trim ring that goes around the instrument panel. This just popped off when I pulled on it. Removing plastic trim ring from around instrument cluster, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Back To The Dash Top...

Small plastic fastener covers on top dashboard panel, 06 Chevy Equinox. There are small plastic covers at each end of the dashboard top.

 

I removed the cover by prying it up with a flexible putty knife. Prying up plastic screw covers.

 

Screw for dash top panel, 06 Chevy Equinox.

Beneath each cover there was a large bolt. I removed these 2 bolts with a 13mm deep-well socket.

Be careful with your ratchet... it's easy to hit the windshield with the tail end of the ratchet handle, especially if you use a long-handled ratchet like I did.

 

Hold That Thought... Again...

Near the top of the plastic trim covering the "A-pillar", I removed a small plastic cover, using a putty knife. I removed a screw behind the cover, using a 7mm socket.

Don't worry if you drop this screw after removing it... it just falls inside a pocket and it's easy to remove once the trim is off.

Prying off plastic cover over screw on A-pillar trim, 06 Equinox.

 

Removing plastic trim over A-pillar, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

I pulled the A-pillar trim away at the top, then I wrestled with it to pull it out at the bottom. There are no fasteners at the bottom... just a couple of plastic tabs that go into slots in the dashboard top panel. One of those tabs has a small hook, so it helps to back the bottom away from you to unhook the bottom. Just be careful with this part... it's kinda tricky.

The A-pillar trim covers can be removed before the dash fasteners are removed... I just didn't know better.

 

Then I was able to lift up the top panel of the dashboard. This plastic part is wedged in place pretty tight, so I didn't remove it just yet. Lifting up top of dashboard, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Dash with top panel removed, 2006 Chevy Equinox. Nah... on second thought, I decided to remove the dash top. Note the white plastic sockets (red arrows) that engage tabs on the dashboard top panel... this will be important during re-assembly.

 

But... before removing the top panel, I had to disconnect this little light sensor on the driver's side. This was easy to remove, I just gave it a quarter-turn counter-clockwise (when viewed from below).

This device senses the amount of ambient light in the car, so the computer can turn on the headlights when it's dark outside. If you cover this sensor, the headlights will turn on within a minute or two. If for some reason you want the headlights to stay off at night, you can shine a flashlight on this sensor and after a few minutes the lights will turn off.

Ambient light sensor, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Removing The Middle Dash:

Removing the middle section of dashboard, 06 Equinox.

After I removed the "lid", I removed all the screws that secured the vertical part of the dash. These all required a 7mm socket.

There are two rows of screws... above the "band" and below.

 

Need For Speed:

Note that for most of the fasteners, I used an impact driver with an adapter that let me attach 1/4" or 3/8" drive sockets to the 1/4" hex output of the power tool. The impact driver is FAST... much faster than using a ratchet, and much easier than using any pnuematic tool. A cordless drill would also work for quick removal of fasteners.

 

This middle section of the dash just pulled away from the structure. This part was easy to remove. Lifting off middle section of dashboard, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

Dash with mid-section removed, showing passenger-side airbag, 06 Chevy Equinox.

Oh look... a pretty little airbag.

DO NOT MESS WITH THE AIR BAG. Leave the air bag inside its plastic wrapper. The airbag is secured to the dash sub-structure, so it never fell out during handling of these parts.

 

I removed the instrument cluster. There were just 4 screws (2 on each side) that required a 7mm socket.

Once the screws were out, the instrument cluster was still attached by the electrical connector. I just pulled the panel straight out and it disconnected.

This was not the usual connector on the end of a wire harness. The back of the instrument panel has a connector built in, and it plugs into a socket on the dash sub-structure.

Removing instrument cluster, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Removing The Dash Sub-Structure:

Screw location on dash sub-structure, Chevy Equinox 2006.

There were several screws and nuts to remove from the dash sub-structure (or inner structure).

I removed this screw from the left side of the steering wheel.

 

I removed these two screws from the middle area of the dash.

There might be more fasteners than this... I lost track of all the fasteners between the time I did this project and the time I wrote this article.

I think these fasteners all required a 10mm socket or a 13mm socket.

Screws in center of dash sub-structure.

 

Bolt between dash and shifter bracket.

I removed this bolt from the metal bracket that connects to the gearshift bracket.

This required a 13mm socket (I think).

 

I rmeoved this nut from the right-hand end of the dash sub-structure. Fastener on right end of dash.

 

Stud on inner dashboard structure, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

The arrow points to the back of a metal stud that points towards the front of the car.

I reached behind the dash and removed the nut with a socket (10mm, I think... or 13mm... I didn't keep detailed notes on everything...).

This wasn't easy... it was one of the more difficult-to-remove fasteners on the whole project.

 

Lower-Right Corner Of Dash:

There was a screw behind the top of the plastic trim that covers the lower-front edge of the passenger door opening.

(I ended up removing the plastic trim.)

Screw on lower-right corner of dash inner structure.

 

Fastener locations on dash sub-structure, near center console, 06 Equinox. I removed some nuts around the fuse box, because I wasn't sure what would be removed with the dash sub-structure.

 

I removed these two bolts (red arrows) below the steering column, using a 15mm socket and wobble extension. These bolts hold a U-bracket that supports the steering column.

Bolts holding steering column in place, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

Steering column dropped down, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

Then I dropped the steering column down. It almost hit the driver's seat. (I'm afraid the column still needs to go lower, later on.)

There are many bundles of wires that go to the steering wheel area. BE CAREFUL THAT NONE OF THESE WIRES GET PULLED TIGHT when the steering column is lowered down.

After unplugging numerous wiring hold-dowm clips, and a few electrical devices, I was able to remove the dash sub-structure from the car.

The dash sub-structure, front view. Dashboard sud-structure or inner structure, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Dash inner structure, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

Back view of dash sub-structure.

The yellow wiring harness is for the passenger-side airbag.

 

This is the stud that caused problems earlier.

(Note that the dash sub-structure is upside and backwards in this picture... this isn't the orientation you'd see the stud in.)

Front-facing metal stud on dash inner structure, 06 Equinox.

 

Unknown electrical device, 06 Equinox.

I have no idea what this electrical device is... it's just sitting inside the dash.

This could be the chime, or a temperature sensor for inside the cabin.

 

The inside of the Equinox after the dash sub-structure has been removed. 2006 Chevy Equinox with dash removed.

 

Steel cross-member behind dash, 06 Chevy Equinox.

Apparently this big steel cross-member needs to be removed.

But... the steering column is attached to this, where the tilt-steering pivots.

 

Removing The Steel Cross-Bar Behind The Dash:

I removed this piece of ductwork from the center of the dash. This directs air to the dash registers. Removing plastic air duct in middle of dash, 06 Equinox.

 

Long bolt at hinge point on  steering column, Chevy Equinox 2006.

There was a long bolt on the left side of the steering column (red arrow), at the pivot point of the tilt steering.

I removed this bolt with a 15mm socket. This bolt was tricky to remove because I had to lift up on the steering column to keep the bolt from being pinched. Having a helper would be a good idea.

I let the steering wheel rest on the floor, in front of the seat. The steering shaft below the first universal joint is telescopic so the shaft just sunk down towards the floor.

 

I removed these two bolts on the left side of the cross-bar. There were two similar bolts on the right end.

The upper of these two bolts is longer than the lower bolt... that's important when re-assembling all this fun stuff.

Bolts for steel cross-bar behind dash, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

Removing fasteners on steel cross-bar behind dash, Chevy Equinox.

I removed the nut under the cross-bar (right arrow), and also the bolt above the brake pedal (left arrow).

The nut connects the cross-bar to the plastic air duct housing.

 

I removed a nut behind this stud. This nut also secures the air duct to the cross-bar. Nut and stud on steel cross-bar.

 

Marking locations of wiring clamps. I had to remove about a dozen wiring clamps. I marked each clamp with a letter or number, both on the wire and on the metal.

 

Keeping Track Of Wiring Harness Clamps Is CRITICAL:

Shortly after I removed a couple of plastic clips that were securing the various bundles of wire to the structure, I realized that getting all those wiring harnesses back into the right locations was going to be a real problem unless I kept things organized.

So I started labelling each wiring harness clamp as I pried them off. I just used a sliver Sharpie permanent marker to write a letter or number on the bundle of wires near each clamp, and on the structure near each hole.

When I re-assembled all these parts, labelling those wiring clamps made ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. Without this help, I would've wasted hours trying to figure out which bundle of wires went where.

 

There were 6 nuts on this "tunnel" around the steering column. Three are easy to reach, the other three were quite difficult (I couldn't even get a decent picture, the area is so crowded).

Those other 3 bolts would be at the far right of this picture... if the camera had X-ray vision and could see through the steel plate.

Fasteners in steel cross-bar, around steering column, 06 Equinox.

 

Hidden fastener under steel cross-bar behind dash, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

Sneaky Hidden Fastener From Hell:

I didn't even know about this nut in the back until I had struggled to pull out the cross-bar for a good ten minutes. I could feel the steel bar pivoting about this area, so I knew there had to be something back there.

I removed this nut with a 13mm socket.

The black object is the air duct, and this fastener is at the upper-left (driver's side) corner, very close to the firewall.

Then I was able to remove the steel cross-bar. It wasn't too heavy. Be careful while carrying this piece through the car door... it would be easy to gouge something or break a window.

 

The dash after the steel bar was removed. 2006 Chevy Equinox with dash and steel cross-bar removed.

 

Interior of 2006 Chevy Equinox with dash removed, showing air duct. View of dash area from passenger side. The black plastic air ducting is clearly visible and within reach.

 

I removed more wiring clamps (red arrows). Note how I marked both the wire and the plastic housing with a letter. I used a silver Sharpie permanent marker, but a paint marker would also work. Masking tape would work too. Marking wiring clamp locations.

 

Steel cross-bar behind dash, Chevy Equinox. The steel cross bar.

 

Back view of steel cross-bar. The red arrows point to the 6 bolt holes at the end of the steering column "tunnel". These holes go over studs (or bolts?) that point rear-ward from the engine-side of the firewall.

The blue arrow points to the hidden nut. That steel bracket extends forward from the cross-bar to the firewall.

Steel dash cross-bar, 06 Equinox.

 

Finally... Removing The Air Duct Housing:

In The Engine Compartment:

There were 2 bolts (or studs) poking through the firewall (red arrow) very close to the heater hoses. I removed these nuts with a 10mm deep well socket. I sprayed some rust penetrant on the threads so the nuts would be easier to remove. The tip of the bolt can be held with a very small socket, if necessary.

The arrow points to the lower bolt. The other bolt is higher up, out of sight, but you can reach it easy enough if you remove the decorative plastic cover over the engine.

Air duct fastener removed from firewall, reached via engine compartment.

 

Plastic cover on left side of air duct housing, 06 Chevy Equinox.

I removed this black plastic cover from the driver's side of the air duct assembly.

I marked most of the screw locations with a yellow paint marker.

 

Back view of side cover. This part covers the pipes that supply the heater core. Cover over heater lines next to air duct, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

Screws holding air duct together, Chevy Equinox heating/cooling system.

I removed what seemed to be about 20 screws from the air duct assembly.

Many of these were quite hard to find. There were 4 screws in behind the duct, and I could only reach these by sliding the air duct forward an inch or so. This is why it's necessary to remove those two nuts on the firewall, in the engine compartment... so the air duct housing can be slid towards the rear of the car slightly.

 

I was able to remove the screws in the back of the duct (these are towards the front of the car, actually) with a 1/4" wrench. But this was painfully SLOW ! Removing small screw in close quarters.

 

Removing rear half of air duct housing, Chevy Equinox. After an hour of messing around, I was finally able to separate the rear half of the air duct and slide it off the heater core.

 

The rear section of the air duct. Air duct from 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Inside of air duct, air temperature blend door visible, 06 Equinox.

When I looked inside the rear duct, I could see the broken air temperature blend door (red arrow).

Actually, I could hear it rattle around when I removed the duct.

 

The air temperature blend door fell out because the end attached to the electric motor had broken (red arrow), so the door was no longer held in place. Broken end on air temp blend door, 2006 Chevy Equinox.

 

Close-up of broken end of air temperature blend door, 06 Chevy Equinox.

This is the break point on the blend door.

The question remains... why did this part break? Was the part designed wrong? Was the plastic too weak?

I found out more information later.

 

This little stub was stuck in the actuator (motor). Broken stub from air blend door, 06 Equinox.

 

Electrical actuator motor that turns air blend door, Chevy.

This is the actuator that rotates the air temp blend door.

The arrows point to the 3 mounting screws, which required a 7mm socket to remove (or a Phillips screwdriver).

 

I unplugged the actuator and removed three mounting screws. The actuator just pulled straight off the air duct. Removing air blend door actuator, GM.

 

Broken stub from air blend door, Chevy.

This is the broken stub from the air blend door.

Note how the "star" splined socket has a flat side on the bottom, to allow proper alignment with the actuator shaft.

 

I bought this new air temp blend door at my local Chevrolet dealership for about $55. That's a lot of dough for a piece of plastic.

This part may also be called a "valve", because it controls air flow.

New air temperature blend door (or "valve") from Chevy dealership.

 

Reference Info - Air Duct Screw Locations:

Screw locations on air duct housing, 06 Chevy Equinox.

Passenger side. The red arrows indicate the screw locations.

That "nozzle" in the upper-left of the photo is a duct that fits inside a small air duct that runs along the floor in the middle of the car, beneath the gear shifter.

 

Driver's side.

The top of the air duct is on the left side of this picture.

Screw locations on air duct, driver's side, 06 Equinox.

 

Screw locations, air duct, 06 Equinox.

Top of air duct.

There are 4 screws pointing towards the rear, so these are kinda tricky to reach, but it is possible.

 

Opening Up The Air Duct To Install The New Air Blend Door:

I removed the screws holding the two halves of the air duct togther.

I used a 1/4" socket on a long extension, powered by a cordless impact driver. I carefully separated the two parts of the ductwork.

Separating two halves of air duct, 06 Equinox.

 

Applying silicone grease to ends of air blend door, GM.

I applied a thin dab of silicone grease (Syl-Glyde brake lubricant in my case) to the pivoting ends of each "valve" or air door.

I did this extra step because I thought the air blend door broke because of excessive friction or the force of the air being blown against it. But... as I'll explain shortly... I was wrong.

 

I installed the new air temperature blend door in the duct housing.

Then I re-assembled the two halves of the duct, being careful that all the flapper-doors were in position. There is a plastic part inside that I think might be an air diverter. It just sits between the two halves of the air duct housing.

Installing new air blend door, 06 Chevy Equinox.

 

BUGGER !!!
More Trouble:

Actuator does not align with mounting holes on duct, 06 Equinox.

I aligned the end of the new flapper-door with the actuator (motor) and tried to turn the actuator until the mounting holes lined up.

HOWEVER... I couldn't get the holes to line up. I twisted and turned and flipped over and analyzed... until I realized the problem. The actuator was the cause of the broken shaft on the blend door. The actuator had rotated too far, beyond its limits, and overpowered the plastic shaft on the door.

This actuator isn't just a simple motor. As you know, an electric motor spins when power is applied. The actuator is a small electric motor connected to a gear-reduction unit, with a position-sensing device that is monitored by the Body Control Module (BCM), which is a computer that controls a bunch of stuff not related to the engine or powertrain.

When the position sensor indicates that the actuator is at the end of its range of travel, the BCM shuts off power to the motor. The output shaft on the actuator should never be able to reach the degree of rotation that is shown above. Why did that happen? Did the BCM malfunction and apply power too long? I doubt it... because electronic circuits are less likely to malfunction than electro-mechanical devices. I'm going to have to assume that the actuator is faulty... that the position-sensing device (probably just a variable resistor) developed an open circuit, or an internal short circuit, or something.

Here's another fact: Before the heat stopped working, the amber Check Engine Light had occaisionally appeared on the instrument panel. But the light would turn off after a few days. While the light was on, I plugged my code reader into the diagnostic port, but it showed no trouble codes. I bought this code reader in 2005, so I assumed that it might not be able to read codes on newer vehicles, or something. Now I'm beginning to see the picture... my OBD-II code reader can only read powertrain codes (codes that begin with the letter "P"). According to this web page I found on OBD-codes.com, there is a long list of "Body Trouble Codes" that can be set when something goes wrong. For example, on that web page there is a code "B0419 Air Mix Door #2 Range Error". That could've been my code, but by disconnecting the battery I have reset that code.

I guess I'll look into getting a newer/better code reader.

One More Point:

This kind of problem bugs me (and a lot of other people) because General Motors has not issued a recall to fix what can be a safety problem... no heat means you can't defrost or de-fog your windshield. What's worse... GM has not even issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) about this problem to advise dealership service departments about the how's and why's of this malfunction.

So I'm a bit concerned that the new actuator might malfunction just like the first one. If GM had issued a TSB, I'd be assured that the engineers had solved the faulty actuator problem, and that all the replacement parts had been revised and improved, and the heat would work just fine for years to come. But I don't have that confidence.

My solution is simple: Never adjust the temperature control dial to full heat OR full cold. Always stay one notch back from each end of the dial. Since I made this repair, I've been turning the temperature dial all the way to the end and immediately moving it back one notch. If the motor is momentarily over-torqueing the blend door shaft, I doubt the shaft will break, because this type of plastic (polypropylene) is reasonably flexible. Besides, I doubt the actuator responds that fast.

 


Air Blend Door Actuator Problems:

This is the original actuator that I removed from my 2006 Chevy Equinox. The red lines indicate the position of the flat-side on the output shaft.

This position is outside of the range of acceptable positions (which is why the air blend door broke).

Air temp actuator with output shaft in wrong position, GM.

 

Inside of climate control actuator, General Motors.

I removed the cover of the actuator. This was not easy... there are 6 small plastic tabs that all need to be pushed inwards at the same time.

I used a small woodworking chisel to shave off the plastic tabs, so the top half of the case pulled off without a fight.

I was able to take apart the gear mechanism and rotate the output shaft into an acceptable position.

Since I cut away the plastic tabs that hold the two plastic "shells" together, I couldn't just snap the actuator back together. I used thin strips of metal duct tape (the type that is actually used on household heating ducts) to hold the shells together. This tape holds tight. However, I didn't re-use my original actuator, although it might actually work.

Close-up of the circuit board on the back side of the electrical connector. The connections marked M1 and M2 are wires that lead directly to the motor.

I assume that when power is applied to M1 and M2, the motor will turn, and that reversing the polarity will reverse the motor. But... what voltage should be applied? 12 volts might be correct, but it could be lower, such as 5 volts.

I have not played around with this... I figured this part was defetive so I bought a new actuator.

Electrical connections inside climate control actuator, General Motors.

 

New air blend door actuator, GM.

The new actuator. Available only at your GM dealer for $130. Ouch!

Note how the flat-side is horizontal.

Since my local Chevy dealer had to order this part, which took one day to arrive, I decided to start re-assembling the car. I realized that the actuator could be reached with only the glove box removed, although it was difficult to reach.

The new actuator (red arrow) after being installed in the nearly-completed dash.

Reaching the 3 mounting screws was tricky... but I had some tools that made the job easier (see following photos).

Installing air door actuator after dash has been installed, Chevy Equinox.

 

Nut-driverfor working in tight spaces.

This is one tool I used to reach the 7mm duct housing screws that were in tight quarters.

This is just a 1/4" nut-driver bit (the type that you put in the chuck of your cordless drill) placed into a little knurled bit-holder. I can't recall where I bought this bit-holder... It might have been Sears.

 

I also used the 1/4" nut-driver bit in the end of a 1/4" ratcheting-type box-end wrench. I could press on the end of the nut-driver bit with my fingers while turning the wrench with my other hand.

This worked well for removing those small black screws that hold the plastic air duct together... especially those screws on the front with almost no room to reach them.

Ratcheting wrench and nutdriver socket  for hard-to-reach screws.

 


Dash Re-Assembly:

For larger photos of the disassembly process, click here for the reference article. These pictures may be useful when trying to figure out how to put the dash back together again.

First I replaced the air duct by rotating the heater core slightly so the duct could slide over it. It wasn't easy to get the bottom of the duct to fit into the small duct that runs along the floor in the center of the car.

Note: Make sure all the duct housing alignment pins are positioned correctly.

Then I screwed the duct housing to the rear portion. Since the nuts were removed from those two long screws that poke through the firewall (near the heater hoses), I was able to pull the whole duct back and reach behind. The rear-pointing screws (at the top of the duct housing) were the trickiest to install.

Then I installed the side cover that conceals the tubes for the heater core.

Next I replaced the steel cross-bar. This was moderately difficult. It's important to leave those firewall nuts off for this procedure, because the air duct needs to be moved around while all the studs are placed into their corresponding holes in the duct.

I put most of the cable clamps into their holes. It really helped to have the clamps labeled at this stage, otherwise I could've spent hours trying to figure out which "Christmas tree" went in which hole. Don't forget the ground connection on the left side of the steering column "tunnel".

After installing the cross-bar, I tightened those two nuts on the firewall in the engine compartment.

Next I lifted the steering column up and installed the long screw at the pivot point. (I had to loosen it later when I installed the other two bolts for the steering column.)

Then I replaced the two small air duct connectors... one goes behind the steel cross-bar and directs air to the defroster vent outlets. The other duct connector fits on top of the air duct housing and feeds air into the cross-bar and also to the center two dashboard registers.

I replaced the plastic/steel dash sub-structure. I also replaced the two small side air ducts that feed the far left and far right dash registers. There is another ground wire that gets connected to the far right side of the sub-structure, down low on the metal part.

I lifted up the steering column and replaced the two screws that connect the U-bracket to the underside of the steel cross-bar. But the holes woudn't line up, so I had to loosen the long bolt at the pivot point of the steering shaft. There was one cable clamp that I couldn't put back in place until the steering column was restored, because there was too much tension on the wiring to the steering wheel.

I replaced the instrument cluster. Note that the wiring for the instrument panel goes on the outside of the dash sub-structure, and the electrical connector just clips into an opening in the plastic dash sub-structure.

Then I replaced the middle band of the dashboard, which is in two pieces. This uses a bunch of small screws with a 7mm hex head. On the small left-hand dash, there were two electrical connectors that I connected... one is for the power mirrors, and the other is for the instrument panel dimmer. (I think...)

I replaced the top panel of the dash, but before snapping it in place I inserted the little security light through the hole in the dash. It's just a simple quarter-turn clockwise (when viewed from underneath.)

I replaced the plastic covers on the A-pillars.

I installed the trim ring around the instrument cluster.

I replaced the top half of the plastic shroud around the base of the steering wheel.

I replaced the dash end caps.

I replaced the crude plastic cover panels that conceal the underside of the dash just above where your feet go. On the driver's side panel, there is a hole on the front-most surface of the panel. This hole slips over the tip of a long screw that penetrates the firewall, very close to the brake pedal.

I replaced the side panels on the center console. These were tricky to wrangle into place, even with the front seats moved all the way back... I had to flex the panels somewhat.

2006 Chevy Equinox center console side panels overlap and fasten to metal bracket.

The driver's side panel needs to be installed first, because the passenger side panel goes on top where the two panels meet at the rear (in front of the handbrake).

There is a wiring harness for the power window switches that needs to be placed in a C-shaped notch on the driver's side panel.

The red arrow points to a metal bracket that the console side panels mount to. (This is at the rear of the center console, just in front of the hand brake.) One of the 2 screws goes into this metal bracket. At first, the screw didn't go into the bracket, which caused the plastic panels to twist, and nothing would fit together after that.

I installed the center console bezel, after re-connecting all the electrical connections. The bezel just snapped into place. I had to shift the transmission into neutral, which meant that I needed to turn the ignition key to "ON". It didn't matter that the battery was still disconnected.

I replaced the small panel that conceals the rear end of the center console. This panel is just ahead of the handbrake.

I'm not sure of the exact procedure here... it seemed to work better if the console bezel went on first, and THEN this plastic cover panel was snapped into place.

Installing rear cover on center console, 06 Equinox.

I installed the knee bolster below the steering wheel.

I installed the glove box.

I re-connected the negative cable to the battery, and replaced the plastic cover over the battery. Note that the radio stations held in memory were NOT erased when the battery was disconnected, but the clock WAS reset.

I started the car and hoped for the best. Within a couple of minutes there was warm air blowing from the registers. I test-drove the car to make sure all the dashboard and steering wheel buttons and electronic functions worked properly. I had no problems of any sort... at least initially.

After I repaired the air blend door, the check engine light was OFF, because the battery had been disconnected and the codes were cleared. But the trouble light appeared after a few days. Then it went off. We took a long trip just after making ths repair, and within 15 seconds of starting the car that day, the check engine light came on again. It was maddening, because my code reader is one year older than this car, and it can't connect to read the codes. (But my code reader can't read "Body Codes" anyway.)

So we went on a 4,000 mile trip with the check engine light on. I knew I could always stop at AutoZone for a free code reading. But the car had no problems. In fact, the check engine light went off and back on about 4 or 5 times during the trip. It seemed to come on only when the temperature control was near the "full cool" or "full warm" setting. I made sure to NEVER set the temperature control to full hot of full cool... I always stayed one or two notches back from the end of the scale.

One month after fixing this problem, everything is still okay, and the check engine light is still off. My wife has been diligent about keeping the temperature control at least one notch from the end of warm/cool range.

 

Is This A Do-It-Yourself Repair?

I would answer that question with a resounding HELL, YES!

Before starting this job, I wasn't sure if this would be appropriate for most do-it-yourselfers. This is a long, time-consuming repair job, but it's not technically difficult. There are no special tools required, though you need a decent set of sockets and wrenches, and a tack puller is really useful.

More than anything else, organization is the most important skill required here. Marking the locations of wiring clamps was just a start. When doing larger repairs, I have always placed each group of fasteners in a zip-lock bag. Then I write down the part they belong to on a 3x5 file card and seal that in the bag. Sometimes I'll even tape the plastic bag to the back of the actual part. I did this for most of the large plastic parts. There's no excuse for loosing track of fasteners, and it's a huge waste of time to stare at a bunch of screws, wondering where they all go. Organization requires extra time "up front" but pays for itself during re-assembly. If you don't appreciate this fact, you will probably fail at this repair, or at least lose your mind.

Patience would be the next most important point. Take your time. Crank up the radio, or watch the game on TV (you do have a TV in your garage... don't you?). Have a cigar. Have a beer... just not too many... you need to be functional. On some of the car repair forums I visited, several people said that they paid a dealership to repair this problem, but some other electrical functions didn't work properly afterwards. I can understand why... there are many electrical connectors that I bumped while doing this job. When the steering wheel was resting on the floor of the car, I stepped on the turn signal wand several times (but I didn't break it). There are wires that run to the steering column that I found were often rubbing against the sharp edge of that big steel cross-bar. Without the proper caution, it would be easy to cut through the insulation on these wires and cause all sorts of problems.

 

 

More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Mechanic's Tools
  • Ratchets: 1/4", 3/8" Drive
  • Extensions, Assorted
  • Sockets, Metric: 5.5, 7, 10, 13, 15mm
  • Sockets, SAE: 7/32", 1/4"
  • Wrenches, Metric:
  • Wrenches, SAE:
  • Cordless Impact Driver (Or Drill/Driver)
  • Pliers, Assorted
  • Screwdrivers, Assorted
  • Tack Puller
  • Putty Knives, Assorted, Narrow
  • Silver Permanent Marker or Paint Marker

Materials Used:

  • Air Temperature Blend Door
  • Blend Door Actuator
  • Ziplock Sandwich Bags (For organizing parts)
  • 3x5 File Cards (For labelling bags of parts)
  • Silicone Dielectric Grease (Optional)

Related Articles:

Web Links:

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Navigation:

Home Page | What's New | Projects & Repairs | Links | Contact Us

Search Page

 

© Copyright 2010 Maki Media Group LLC

Written April 21, 2010