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Old 02-09-2018, 01:13 PM   #1
AstraFasta
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Default Heater blower ice after winter rain

Help!

After a winter rain, it seems water is entering the heater blower fan and freezing overnight. This prevents the blower fan from working.

Other facts:

- parking on upwards incline seems to exploit the engineering oversight

- resistor pack blown now (speeds 0 & 4 work fine)

- after driving a while, the ice will unfreeze and fan will work. Sounds like ice in a blender until ice melts.

I can't figure where water is entering. Pouring water down the windshield, I see some liquid drain out of front left wheelwell (near door but behind the plastic wheel well-covering).

I have also removed, cleaned and reseated the plastic panel & long rubber gasket under the windshield wipers. It looks fine. Actually could only lift it an inch up for cleaning and flashlight inspection as windshield wipers arms are fused to pins lol.

I suppose:

- a drain plug going down the wheelwell could be clogged.

- the big hole covered with a plastic "mesh" at the firewall behind the glove box (used as heater air intake) could be letting in water?

- the metal runners under the doors are also defective and could be filling with water and backing up the system? Not sure how to release water there

Unrelated, I think the rain ingress on the driver's side is coming from the drain holes at the bottom of the door that seem to drain into the car rather than outside. GM engineers at their best hahaha.

Any tips?

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Old 02-13-2018, 07:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Heater blower ice after winter rain

Did some work on the Astra today.

EXTERIOR

>> Removed 4 plastic plugs from the left and right running boards under the doors; no water flooded out and no moisture noted. It was dirty inside.

>> Started removing the front passenger side plastic wheel-well skirt. I hope that will give me access to the drain which comes from the scuttle panel. I assume that drain is clogged. No idea where it is but I do see water gush out from behind the skirt when I put the hose on the windshield.

>> Looked at the scuttle panel again. On the passenger side there is a square plastic grille which goes "directly" to the blower motor housing. Another possible source of rain ingress.

When selecting "recirculate" a foamy interior door closes off that plastic grille; however, that is not a 100% reliable seal as the motor seems to open and close the door every time I start the car (presumably to ensure it is in proper position). The open-cell foam, weak closing and ageing of foam probably don't make for a great seal.


INTERIOR --

>> Under the heater blower motor there was some moisture on the foamy shelf.

>> I removed the heater blower motor and disassembled it. There was some oxidation and moisture. Will let that fully dry out tomorrow and then clean and relubricate. The motor sounds fine and is well built.

>> I don't notice any evidence of moisture on or around the cabin air filter.

>> Tried removing the blower resistor pack; that was very difficult a few years ago and seems to be just as difficult this time. Fail. Will try again tomorrow.

**Any suggested values of resistors in the resistor pack I can soldier in???

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Old 02-16-2018, 02:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: Heater blower ice after winter rain

- Rain water has been entering the heater blower fan on my 2008 Astra H (US Saturn Astra 1.8 model so may vary "slightly"). This is popular defect particularly for those who park the car on an incline with the front facing upwards.

- After recent cold weather, the rain water freezes in the fan box and ice prevents the fan from spinning. As a result the fan "resistor pack" burned out (so fan only worked on settings 0 & 4).

- I attempted repair of leak, repair resistor pack, lubricate fan.

RAINWATER LEAKS INTO HEATER BLOWER FAN

- Couldn't figure where water is leaking into cabin so tried looking in a bunch of places.

- The long thin rubber strip attached to the scuttle panel and sitting atop the bottom of the windshield is not tightly bonded to the windshield; I suspect that is decorative or poorly installed.

- Looked at scuttle panel under windshield for obvious cracks or defects. Poured lots of water onto windshield looking for leaks. Nothing noted. Water seemed to drain fine from front wheels. Water gushes out behind plastic wheel well liners but oddly no elegant guttering pipes.

- Tried to remove scuttle panel but the windshield wipers fused onto the pins so could not remove them. It is easy enough to lift the front panel a few centimetres to observe with a "torch."

- Removed plastic skirts at front wheels. There was over 1 kg of dense mud at the bottom of the metal work between the wheel well and the plastic skirts. Removed mud but I don't think that was cause of cabin leaks. No rust noted.

- Under the doors of the Astra, there are pained metal running boards. Removed front and back rubber drain plugs from bottom of each running board. No moisture noted but it felt rather dirty inside. Replaced drain plugs.

- Removed plastic fresh air intake panel from firewall. That is accessed under the bonnet from the scuttle panel with 4 x T20 torx screws (long). Top outside screw required a very short screwdriver to access (easy access if you can remove the scuttle panel lol). Could barely slide intake panel out underneath attached scuttle panel.

>> The front of the intake panel has an odd design; the bottom of the panel has a lip several centimetres ahead of the top of the panel which could encourage collection of water.

>> Bottom two screws are in an area that could pool water and send water down screwholes into passenger compartment.

>> Intake panel has an o-ring for sealing against the metal firewall. The o-ring is very flat so might not be too effective

>> Intake panel has three tabs to mate with the firewall lip. On my Astra, you can see the the tabs are bent downwards and the plastic is stressed white. So I think the top of the intake panel was improperly installed, with a gap allowing water to enter.

SEALING PASSENGER COMPARTMENT

-- I suspect the plastic fresh air intake panel is the cause of the leaks. Bad engineering and poor assembly. Attemped fix:

- Straightened the 3 bent tabs on the top of the intake panel.

- Put lot of silicone on the intake panel's mating surface with the firewall & in the 4 screw holes.

- After reinstalling the intake panel, put a lot of silicone on top of the 4 screws

- Put a lot of silicone behind and on top of the long rubber strip which runs at the bottom of the windshield and along the scuttle panel

RESISTOR PACK

- Resistor pack is located behind the glove compartment above the cabin air filter. Sits on top of a black plastic vent pipe. Very difficult to remove. Best results I had were to remove the wiring harness and remove the two wires from the fan. I the black plastic pipe has two big plastic tabs which hold in the resistor pack; one tab is towards the front of the car and the other tab towards the back of the car. Those tabs need to be moved towards the front and back, respectively. The tabs are very stubborn especially with cold weather and were the only real difficulty of removing the then the resistor pack. With the tabs pressured, the resistor pack easily slides upwards. Be careful not to push the resistor pack too hard from below as the metal cage will deform.

- I cleaned the resistor pack a bit and clipped off the thermal fuse; it will not come off with a normal soldiering iron. Then removed the leads and cleaned the contact area. A replacement thermal fuse is about $0.25 just make sure to get the right spec for safety. The resistor pack has obvious metal arms you can bend tightly around the leads of your new thermal fuse. Then I solidered each lead and clipped the excess. If you soldier the thermal fuse you need to use caution and heatsink near the fuse so not to damage the component; do some research on proper soldiering methods. Alternative is to buy a new resistor pack ($100+).

HEATER BLOWER FAN

- The bottom of the fan had some obvious wear due to water dripping. The fan housing has plastic cover near the wires which is held in with some clips. Then there is a metal plate with two screws. If you remove those screws then the metal plate will come off with some effort as there is a spring clip which holds to the bearing. Now you have access to the motor for cleaning and lubrication. Reinstalling the metal plate requires caution as the spring clip will can damage the bearing unless you bend the clips backwards. I had a fan without those spring clips. I slightly damaged the bearing trying to force the metal plate back on the fan so slightly louder than before. It works well enough.

NEXT STEPS

- Repair major rain water leak from driver's side door (popular defect with 5 door model). This seems to be dripping from the door speaker based on posts by other owners.

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Old 02-16-2018, 02:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Heater blower ice after winter rain

Images of:

- mud hidden behind front wheel wells

- fresh air intake plastic panel at firewall (from outside and inside)

- 3 poorly installed panel tabs, bent
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Astra0.jpg (225.7 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg Astra1.jpg (106.4 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg Astra2.jpg (126.9 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Astra3.jpg (96.4 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Astra4.jpg (218.1 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg Astra5.jpg (110.9 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Astra6.jpg (146.6 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg Astra7.jpg (119.3 KB, 9 views)

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