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Ford Explorer Air Conditioner and Heater Problems

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  • Trying to fix my ac, I put 2 cans of refrigerant in and couple days later its hot again. Is there anything I can do to check it without taking it to a dealership? Where would i start
  • I own a 2002 Explorer. I’ve noticed a clicking sound coming from the rear heater / AC control box that’s near the driver’s side rear fender. The clicking occurs even when the heater / AC is off. While trying to locate the problem I noticed that the black plastic box housing the rear controls is getting hot, most likely due to whatever is causing the clicking. I’ve read some other questions on this site that address the same problem, but I couldn’t find a solution other than stop using the rear controls. Does anyone know what causes this clicking sound and how to fix it? One person told me that it could be a stuck solenoid or other electrical problem; does anyone know if this is true? My biggest concern is that the box unit is getting hot because of the clicking or stuck part / solenoid. Thanks for any help you can provide.
  • Hi every body, My problem is that the heater is staying on even when the hot cold dial is on cold. It is that bad that if I wear thongs on my feet, my feet look like cooked lobster and sore to boot. It is getting on summer here in Australia and need a fix urgently. I have tried to take off the dash but am stuck with the wiring loom on the drivers side having only little flexabiltiy.
  • Your problem is almost certainly with the common blend door failure. If you remove the actuator motor on top of the plenum box, you can observe the axle and most likely see the problem. There are two common fail patterns, one where the axle breaks completely and is no longer attached to the blend door and the other where the axle connector splits. Pictures of both are on our web site.

    The door can be replaced without removal of the dash. Assuming that your Explorer is RHD, the configuration of the replacement door has to be the mirror image of the LHD version. The problem is the same with all models of the Explorer, but the solution is different dependent on the drive configuration. Follow my user name to our private area for a pointer to a web site with more information and pictures.

    cgallen
  • I'm a Service Tech. and I worked on this for over two hours before I found the lever, so I wanted to share my info so the next person might not have to look so long. After the glove box is open, on the far left hand wall you will see two silver canisters with metal arms sticking out of them. Immediately below and behind the arm of the lower canister was a lever that was flipped up. You have to flip this lever down and that fixed the problem. This was on an 03 XLT Explorer. The lady was right, you can't see it, but I could feel the ticking on the lever and I immediately knew that was it. Thanks #84.
  • The plenum box in the Explorer was changed for the 03 model, so discussions on 02 and earlier models do not apply on 03 and later models. The first observation was the ability to press down on the top of the motor and stop the clicking sound. This is an observation for 02- models. What is happening is that the gears are out of alignment and are slipping against each other, causing the clicking sound. The actuator motor is trying to calibrate itself by driving to a stop point and recording a resistance value on an internal variable resistor. Since the gears are slipping, the motor never finds the end point that it is looking for and just clicks until the car is started 20 times which kicks off a new calibration cycle. Sometimes pressing on the right pressure point on the motor housing will cause the gears to temporarily catch, stalling the motor and allowing the computer to make it's resistance reading and move on.

    However, just stopping the clicking is only a temporary fix since the motor will get into a position where it slips again and start the routine over again. If this is allowed to continue, it will strip gears on the motor and it will have to be replaced. The root cause of the problem is that the blend door is out of alignment with the motor. The gears in the motor have to be planar to operate correctly. If the drive axle breaks, the motor "tilts", causing the gears to no longer be planar and they slip against each other. While it's possible for the motor to fail and reach the click stage on it's own, more commonly, the blend door axle is cracked or broken. This happens every day on thousands of Rangers, Explorers, Mountaineers, Mazda trucks, etc. It is a wear-out mechanism in the system and not a rare occurrence. Follow my user name back to our CarSpace and follow the link to a web site with more information and pictures.

    The 03+ Explorer is a different beast altogether. On the 02- the blend door is on a vertical axis and the actuator motor is found on top of the heater box. On the 03+ the door is on a horizontal axis that spans parallel to the dash across the center of the console. The actuator motor for the single control version is on the driver's side of the box and can be seen if you remove the skirt next to the transmission tunnel and crane your neck. It also clicks, but for a different reason.

    The lever described in a previous post is on the passenger side of the box and again, you have to remove the skirt on the passenger side and "double crane" your neck to see it. It is connected to the end of the axle which is driven by the actuator motor on the other side. This lever presses down on a vacuum switch which controls a valve under the hood which shuts off coolant flow through the heater core. The idea is that when the blend door is in the full down position(max AC), the lever pushes a button that shuts off heat to the heater core. This maximizes AC efficiency.

    Observation of the clicking sound being reflected in the vacuum switch lever is again just a symptom of a different root cause problem. As in the 02-, the gears in the actuator motor are getting out of plane and slipping against each other. However, the cause of the mis-alignment of the blend door to the axle is a design flaw in the system. This is very difficult to explain with out pictures and arrows, so you will need to go to our web site for a full technical explanation.

    The point is that the problems are different for the the two generations of Explorer and the fixes are different. Follow my user name to our CarSpace and pointer to our web site for more information than can be typed into this little box.

    cgallen
  • Thanks for the info, I have managed to take out the heater box with a great deal of stuffing around. the blender door shaft ( female part) is shattered. do I have to replace the entire heater box or is there another way of fixing the door. thanks ps the heater box looks like it is glued together as i cannot see any screws or bolts that hold it together.
  • It's a little tricky to post without soliciting. Follow my user name back to my CarSpace page and follow the link to a complete solution.
  • Hi to heater treater, how do I go about buying the replacement blend door for explorer that you say that you sell as I can not get any information to buy it with out a pay pal account, I can how ever pay by australian postal order. How have other australian buyers bought from you? the price you advertise $119.00 plus $40 is that in australian or american dollars, any information that you can give me would be greatly appricated as I need this part urgently thank you
  • Howdy Mate(Texas/Australia cultural blend). I'm assuming your Explorer is RHD. We have built and shipped a half dozen or so RHD fix kits with the assumption that Ford just did a transpose on the CAD drawings and ordered mirror image plastics. This is the method that most manufacturers use. While we asked for feedback, no response on the kits. Under the assumption that no news is good news, we think it is modified correctly for the RHD, but without complete confirmation and pictures, we can't make our usual guarantees.

    We have sold multiple Jeep Grand Cherokee HeaterTreaters into Australia and the UK and don't really know how the finances work. People click paypal and dollars show up in our account. Not sure how the magic works. Our prices are in US dollars, so there must be some conversion from different currencies for the transactions. If you search heatertreater on Ebay, our products will show up and I think credit cards are accepted via that route.

    An Australian post office money order will be OK, but there will be a fair delay for it to get to the US. Our bank said that they can redeem an Australian money order for shrimp that we can throw on the barbie......better than money anyway. Contact us through our online email at support@heatertreater.net and we can get this going. If you are anywhere near a surfing area, my son wants to go back and we'll trade for free lodging......
  • Howdy tex, As luck would have it, a friend who has the same problem with his explorer with a pay pal account has bought me one from you and he is waiting to see how i go with installing it before he buys one. PS I live in wagga wagga Goggle maps and you'll see how far from the ocean when i am. I will let you know how the installation goes thanks
  • Mechanics said the actuator pump has stopped working and its gotta be replaced but will cost me alot of money. can anybody tell me how i can get diagrams of the inner panel.
  • For the late model Explorer, there is a video posted on the web site showing the location and method for accessing the actuator motor. Usually the problem is not the actuator, but the computer control. When the computer detects a fault in the system, it will shut down the motor as a "safety precaution" and it will appear dead when you visually check it for operation.

    Schematics of the connector and a method for checking the motor with a 9V battery are available from the web site. Additionally, there is a full explanation of the design issues and remedy in the TECH section.

    Follow my user name to our CarSpace page for a pointer to more information and contact info from our web site. We can help....
  • I've spent nearly 5 hours looking at blogs trying to find the answer to my issue. I'm getting close but no homerun's yet.

    Description: 2002 Ford Explorer: Dual Air Control Heat/ACMax
    Issue 1: Clicking Noise in Drivers Rear Firewall - Sounds like its the blend door and for this model, I can simply take the inside panels off and replace the acutator. (Is that Correct?) BUT, I have to ensure that the contols are set to cold before I plug the wiring into the NEW actuator to ensure correct position. The noise was loud at first now faint.
    Issue 2: I don't have heat. Is that because the rear actuator went out? If I correct the rear actuator, will that provide heat/defrost?

    This is a great forum. I've had to fix a crapload of issues on this vehicle and I've had it since birth.
  • Since birth??? I hope it the birth of the Explorer, not you! We already have enough problems with teenage drivers(my sons), don't need to go younger ;-)

    The system is self calibrating so the position of the motor when it is installed or the temperature control don't matter. The motor will center itself and find the extents of movement from there.

    We have developed a method for checking the Ford motor with a 9V snap battery and it is described in the listings for the older Explorers and is the same for 02+. I will be improved and posted on the web site soon. You want to check the motor before spending money on a new one. While you have the motor off, you also need to check the blend door motor connection and manually move the door to see if you find any issues. You should be able to move the door with your fingers and change from heat to AC. A flat piece of metal with a bend in it will slip into the motor connection and you can turn the blend door. Pictures on the web site. Follow my user name to our CarSpace area and follow the link to the site.
  • Great advice, heatertreater!! I'll do my initial inspection first then see what I come up with then. I'll post a follow up soon.
  • mjfixmjfix Posts: 3
    My 2003 ford explorer is blowing out cold air while on the heater setting. I also have a knocking/clicking from the dash board when the fan is on. I am not sure if this helps but the a/c did not blow out cold air in the summer. Any suggestions?
  • It's hard to tell from the description whether the noise is leaves or foreign matter caught in the fan or the actuator motor clicking. If the blend door is broken, it could also be the door itself flopping in the breeze and making noise.

    The symptoms sound very much like a blend door problem and you will need to get to the actuator motor and pull it to see if the axle is damaged and whether you can turn the blend door freely and switch from AC to Heat by turning the door manually.

    The actuator motor is barely visible under the driver's side dash, next to the transmission tunnel. There are pictures, and a video in the Tech section on our web site. Follow my user name to our CarSpace page for a pointer to a web site with more information.
  • jman15jman15 Posts: 1
    Rear AC on 2003 Mountaneer 4.0 L was not cooling - front was but compressor eventualy locked up. Compressor, orfice tube, drier on front were replaced and expansion valve and evaporator core in rear were replaced (clogged badly). Now we get cold air in front and rear vents until the vehicle gets warm at which point the air in the rear starts to come out warm depsite the rear a/c controls being set to cold. The mechanic has pinched off the hot water lines in front of the passenger firewall and this causes the air in the rear to blow cold again. He believes there is a rear heater control valve that could be failed but he can't find it. I've done some surfing on the web and am starting to think it might be a problem with a blend door in the rear plennum or the controls that go to it. What do you think? Is there a heater control valve for just the rear or should we follow a different route to solve the problem?
  • The rear system has it's own heater core and AC evaporator core and a DC motor controlled blend door to regulate air flow through the cores. The system has the same basic problems as the front HVAC system, but generally the plenum box is easier to access. In our experience, when they go bad, most people just turn it off and drive the front system harder.

    The system operates by always driving air flow through the evaporator core and the blend door then diverts some or all of the air through the heater core. Heat is achieved by turning off the AC compressor and pushing un-refrigerated air through the heater core. AC has the compressor on and the heater core blocked. And of course, there are all the variations in between to regulate between full heat and full AC.

    Depending on the position that the blend door falls to when it breaks, it makes sense that blocking the flow of heated coolant through the heater core would restore AC. It sounds like the system is always blowing air through the evaporator and with a broken door, through the heater core. The system would cool, then heat the air, killing AC. With the hoses pinched, the air is still flowing through the heater core, but with no heat, it doesn't affect the cooling effect of the evaporator core. Heat would still work since with the compressor off, all air would be heated to the max. The biggest problem might be that the system gets too hot.

    You might want to look into installing a valve in the rear heater hoses with either electronic control or just turn the valve like a water hose and just switch it around to match the season. If it's just the kids in the back, freezing in the winter and sweating in the summer builds character.....do nothing ;-)
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