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2000 Ford Windstar - no heat - actuator


sitiakab
01-01-2012, 10:23 AM
Ford – no front heat – 2000 – Windstar – actuator

My Dad’s 2000 Ford Windstar van stopped putting out heat to any front vents. I was able to hear a rhythmic thumping sound when the heat control slider was placed in the hot position. I looked for info on line, and found many posts that said the actuator was probably the issue. I also went back and asked my Dad if before the thumping sound he had heard anything else, and he confirmed he had heard some gear grinding noises, which others have reported as the actuator is starting to grind and slip its internal gears. If the actuator is not working correctly, it won’t hold the heater duct door in the open position, which means you can’t get any hot air.

On this site I found a very helpful post from FordBoss88 which gave me the info needed to do this repair. I thought I would expand a little on his instructions, and give some additional insight.

I purchased the actuator in advance (assuming that was the problem) for about $40 from O-Reillys, and I also purchased the special Ford Radio removal clips for about $7. Total cost with tax about $50. Although some have said you can bend coat hangers to use instead of the special clip removal tool, others have said the clips work much better and faster.

This repair took me about 2 hours to complete as this was my first time with this specific job. If I had to do it again, I think it would only take me about ½ hour.

I think one of the key tools for this job is a very long ¼” ratchet extension of at least 12” in length. You might be able to do this without a long extension, but it would be difficult to get to the 3 mounting screws as they are in the back section and clearances are tight. You might also be able to use 3/8 ratchet and extensions, but the small diameter ¼ size is better for these tight places. I also used a wobble extension, as I found I could not get the extension into a straight on position, and the wobble extension helped to keep the socket firmly on the mounting screws.

+ Disconnect the battery – this prevents any accidental issues with air bag issues, and any issues with accidentally pulling wires lose and shorting out an electrical connection.

+ Remove the plastic shroud from the very bottom area. This will be removed with the hinged storage bin intact. Mine had four small screws with plastic plugs, with stripped threads, so I just pried the screws and plugs out together with a small screwdriver. Mine had a small auxiliary electrical outlet which was easily unplugged. Set the shroud outside out of the way.

+ Remove the radio using a pair of the special clip hooks. As others have said, sometimes after inserting the clips the radio may not instantly unhook. I had to do some wiggling up and down and side to side until it finally popped free. My radio then slid about 90% of the way out easily, but felt hung up and would not come out the final 10%. I was hesitant to put a lot of pulling force on it, but I had to do that. I wiggled the right side out completely first, and disconnected the antenna wire. I was then able to see that one of the two multi-wire harnesses did not have much slack, and that made getting to the connector a bit difficult. But by stretching the wire, and pulling, I was able to get to the connector and push the tab underneath to disconnect it. Do the same with both multi wire connectors. Set the radio unit aside.

+ To remove the front panel, with the heat control sliders intact, some call this the front bezel; you will need to remove 4 screws. Previous posts mentioned three 8mm screws, but mine was held in place with four 7mm screws. The top two are not clearly visible unless your crouch down and look up and into the front edge of the bezel, but you will see them mounted a downward angle. Use a 7mm socket to unscrew both top screws, and then pull out the ashtray beverage unit to get to the bottom two screws. After removing the two top and two bottom screws, the front plastic bezel will pull away from the dash. I did not remove any wires, but just shoved the front bezel with wires attached to the side out of the way.

+ If you use a flashlight and look into the now open cavity, you will see the actuator unit mounted at the far rear back of the opening. The factory OEM unit was cream colored; the replacement unit from O-Reilly’s is black. You will have to push and work around a bunch of different wires in this process, but I did not have to unplug any of them.

+ The actuator unit has four screw mounting tabs, but mine was secure with only three screws. By pushing the wires around you will see a screw at the upper top left. I also had a screw at the bottom right, and one more on the right side about ½ ways up. Remove all 3 screws using an 8mm socket on a long extension. Pull the actuator straight out, making sure the male shaft clears the female opening in the duct work before you try and remove it completely. It will be attached with a single wire harness – just unplug it. I was expecting that my unit might have a freely rotating shaft due to stripped out internal gears, but my shaft actually felt tight on the old unit. When I took it apart I did confirm that on the very small plastic gear, some of the points were stripped off.

+ Before installing the new actuator I wanted to make sure the actual duct door was working correctly. If it was not, that is a more time consuming and costly repair. To check the door I inserted the ¼ extension into the “D” shaped female opening, and turned the extension clockwise and counterclockwise, back and forth. The door moved freely, and I could hear and feel it opening and closing, with no strange noises. At this point I felt confident my problem was just the actuator, and not the door. When an actuator is not inserted into the female opening, the door should be in the closed position, I am assuming due to gravity or an internal return spring. When the door is closed (no heat) the round section of the “D” should be pointed to the lower left, about a 7:00 o’clock position. At least that is how mine looked.

+ You will need to make sure the male “D” shaft on the new actuator is in the correct position so it will slide into the “D” shaped female opening before you try to install it. Mine was not. In order to get the shaft into the proper position, I temporarily reconnected the battery and turned the ignition key to on (no need to start engine). I connected the new actuator to the wiring harness, and held the unit in my hand. When I slid the heat control slider back and forth between hot and cold, I was able to see the male shaft slowly rotate. I put the control slider into the cold position; made sure the shaft rotated and then stopped, and then turned the key off. If the male shaft is pointing towards you, the round part of the “D” will be in the lower right 4:00 o’clock position. But once you flip it around to mount it, the result the will be that the round section will be in the lower left 7:00 o’clock position.

+ Make sure the key is turned off, and then disconnect the battery again.

+ To mount the new actuator, make sure the D shaft slides correctly into the female opening. It should slide in easily. Make sure your 3 mounting holes look properly aligned with the mounting tabs, and if correctly positioned the screw holes should be up flush against the mounting tabs.

+ Secure the new actuator with the three 8mm screws. I got them started with my bare fingers, and then used the 8mm socket with long wobble extension. I tightened each one a few turns and then moved onto the next one, to avoid any issues with the plastic housing getting warped or cracked.

+ At this point I temporarily reconnected the battery, and turned on the ignition key again. I wanted to make sure the actuator was installed correctly and working properly before I put the other parts back together. I put the fan switch in low speed to reduce fan noise, and moved the slider back and forth from cold to hot. I could hear the actuator quietly humming as the door opened completely, then the motor would stop, and then sliding the switch to the other side the motor would hum again until the door moved completely into the opposite direction. I turned the key off, and disconnected the battery again.

+ I reinserted the radio by first connecting the antenna lead in wire, and then angling the radio unit so I could re-connect the two multi wire harnesses. I had to angle and force it back in, due to the short (no slack) wire harness. When pushed in, it snaps and locks into place.

+ Reinstall the front bezel piece with the four small 7mm screws.

+ Reinstall the bottom plastic shroud using the plastic screws and plugs – I just pushed mine back into place.

+ Reconnect battery, start and warm up engine. If all went well, your heater control slide should now work correctly and you should have heat once again.

wiswind
01-02-2012, 03:42 PM
I am putting this up top as a sticky thread.
If anyone has some pictures that they would like to include with this post, please add to it.

No Warm air is caused by the electic motor driven "blend door".
The coolant always flows through the heater core and the blend door determines how much cabin air will flow over the hot heater core.

Air only to the defrost (but you can control the temperature) is caused by a issue with the vaccum control diverter doors.
If vaccum is lost, the default position is for all the air to go to the windshield (defrost).

azharj
03-16-2012, 08:52 AM
Excellent detail of procedure and very use full information by sitiakab (http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/member.php?u=167809). I have done this a year back. I made this radio removal tool by turning to stiff wires into U which fit in the wholes in the front of the heater. Push the wires in the wholes and while pulling the radio apart them..
http://www.instructables.com/id/Rewire-Speakers-in-2000-Ford-Windstar/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSbzR9lv2OM&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tN2nZjjw_M
http://www.heatertreater.net/Windstar%20Listing.html
http://www.lifeasbob.com/CategoryView,category,Cars%2B,%2BWindstar.aspx
I fixed the issue of vent deflection to the defrost position. I made two amendments:
1.) fixed check valve vertically see diagram No. 1.
2.) repositioned the whole check valve and vacuum reservoir assembly inside, under the dashboard
I fixed the valve vertically because the air can travel from the white side to the black side only. In the cylindrical part which is between the two white and one black tubes (marked red), there is small thin circular plastic disk like membrane. This plastic membrane closes the way back to white tubes. If the valve is vertical, the sheet will be horizontal, thus closing the white tubes by its weight, all the time.
One of the white tubes is connected to the vacuum canister. From the vacuum canister, a black hose goes to the control knob, from which different hoses go to the different actuators. See the connection diagram (NO. 3) of the hoses. Leak can occur at any of the connection points between manifold and the red hose, hoses and check valve, vacuum canister, control knob, and actuators; and the hoses, check valve, vacuum canister and actuators themselves. However, the most probable site of leak is on the engine side, where the changes in the temperature due to engine heat and cold external temperature can damage the plastic parts by making them inflexible.
I removed the hose, the canister and check valve, which I had replaced recently, plugged the open ends, dipped all of them in a bucket of water and applied pressure to one end. I came to know that all the joints and vacuum canister were leaky, even though I had secured all the joints with silicon and wires. There was a small phalange of residual plastic material along the whole length of the tubes of the valve (diagragm 2). This phalange was preventing airtight fitting of hoses with the check valve. I repaired the leak of the vacuum canister and filed it to smoothen the tubes of the check valve. I took a long new hose to connect it to the manifold on the one end and firmly connected the other end to the black hose, which is connecting the vacuum canister to the control knob, to pull the new hose inside. I could find much place behind on the glove box just on the passenger side of the central console and fixed the check valve and vacuum canister on the new place; so that any future service is easy. Other advantage was that it gave much space to replace the metallic heater hose. Alternatively, creating 15-inch vacuum in all hoses, check valve, canister control knob and actuators, and a fall in vacuum by 1 inch per min will detect leaky part.
See also:
http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=6921202#post6921202 (http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=6921202#post6921202)
http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=1050429
http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=1052185

CheeseHead1
10-07-2012, 10:19 AM
sitiakab, thanks for the great procedure and instructions above!

I just did this remove/replace on our 2002 Ford Windstar LX 3.8L. All of the instructions above were accurate for my vehicle, including fastener sizes. Here's some additional comments below.

I had read in another post someone recommended setting the temperature controls to cold before starting the remove/replace procedure. Maybe this helps with the alignment process once you insert the new piece. I did this, don't know if it actually helped - as the vehicle was blowing cold in front no matter what the temperature was selected before I started the job.

I don't recall ever hearing a clicking sound when mine failed. I just started getting no heat in front and hearing a quiet rhythmic thumping sound. The thumps were about one per second, every 5th or 6th thump would be slightly louder. So something like: thump thump thump thump THUMP thump thump thump thump thump THUMP.

I bought the replacement part at a local Auto Zone for $36, they actually had one in stock.

+ Remove the plastic shroud from the very bottom area. This will be removed with the hinged storage bin intact. Mine had four small screws with plastic plugs, with stripped threads, so I just pried the screws and plugs out together with a small screwdriver. Mine had a small auxiliary electrical outlet which was easily unplugged. Set the shroud outside out of the way.

On the 2002 LX, you probably don't need to remove this (unless you drop a bolt). One of the bolts that holds the actuator slipped out of my fingers, and so I did need to remove mine to look for the bolt.

Also, the plastic screws in the plugs probably are not stripped. It looked to me like they only make contact when the plug is being squeezed. So if you pull back slightly on the plastic, it will compress the two prongs of the plug, then you can back the screw out slightly, then you can pop out the plug.

I was unable to disconnect the electrical outlet. But was able to slide the shroud back far enough to get access and visibility that I needed to look for the bolt.

It turned out the bolt had slipped out of my fingers and wedged itself next to the actuator. The threads were pointing down and I was able to see the bolt from the bottom, after removing the bottom plasttic shroud. Then I was able to push the bolt up a little and it fell, then I was able to retrieve it.

Remove the radio using a pair of the special clip hooks.

I definitely recommend the special clip hooks. Insert them about 1 inch and angle a tiny bit towards the outside of the radio (so the handles you are hold are actually angling a tiny bit toward each other). You should feel them click into position inside the radio. Then push the two handles apart with firm steady pressure, at the same time pulling toward you slightly. The radio should release and slide toward you. When you have it out, practice the same motion and you can see the small release movement on the left and right side of the radio.

I think one of the key tools for this job is a very long ¼” ratchet extension of at least 12” in length.

For the top-left bolt I I used a 1/4" drive, 1/4" u-joint socket, and two extensions (probably 9" put together). It was easy to see but you have to get on it at an angle, the radio bracket is in the way. I was turning the rachet a little inside the console.

For the bottom-left bolt I used a long 12" extension, rachet was outside the console. This one you can get to straight on.

For the right-side bolt it was the hardest to see and access. I think you could get to it straight on, but when you had the socket and extension in there, you couldn't see the bolt any more. I think I used the 1/4" drive, 9" extension and turned the rachet inside the console. That's the one I dropped.

+ You will need to make sure the male “D” shaft on the new actuator is in the correct position so it will slide into the “D” shaped female opening before you try to install it. Mine was not. In order to get the shaft into the proper position, I temporarily reconnected the battery and turned the ignition key to on (no need to start engine). I connected the new actuator to the wiring harness, and held the unit in my hand. When I slid the heat control slider back and forth between hot and cold, I was able to see the male shaft slowly rotate. I put the control slider into the cold position; made sure the shaft rotated and then stopped, and then turned the key off.

The area inside the console was cramped and there was not much extra length on the wiring to the actuator. I was unable to twist the actuator with the wiring connected. So I had to first put the actuator in the hole with the male shaft D-shaped end at the top and facing me. Twist the wire to connect it to the new actuator. Rotate the male shaft as described above to align, using key in ignition and heat control slider to cold. Use the old actuator as a guide, place the old one in the same orientation as a reference so you can see where the D shaped end should be. 4 o'clock was correct for me in that orientation (shaft at the top and pointing toward me so I could see it).

Then unplug. Remove actuator from the console hole. Then slide the actuator back into the console hole, now pointing in the opposite direction and aligned so you can re-install it. Reconnect the plug.

I got the bottom-left bolt started first, both because it was the easiest to access and also because the top-right is supported by a post. So then the actuator was fairly secure for me to work on inserting the other two bolts - which were both more challenging as outlined above.

Having a small flashlight was a big help during this project. Auto Zone sells a nice one with 3 LEDs, it takes 3 AAA batteries and is around $6.

Looking at this uTube video was also very helpful to me before trying this project:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tN2nZjjw_M (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tN2nZjjw_M)

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