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Old 07-12-2019, 12:08 AM   #1
zl07
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Default 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

The temperature of the air coming out of the four vents are: 69, 80, 70, and 50 degrees (Outside is ~85 degrees). I took it to Meineke and they said I need to replace the "air inlet door actuator" and the "recycle door actuator", and it's ~4.5 hours/$970 because the whole dash needs to be taken off to access the parts.

I did some online search and could only find information on one actuator, the "recirculation door actuator". On Rockauto I can see both names, "air inlet door actuator" and "recirc door actuator", but with the same part number (52494371).

So is there really a second actuator? If the "recirc door actuator" is the only one, does it have multiple functions? Obviously it can move the "recirculation door" to switch between inside and outside air, but does it also control other doors to mix cold and hot air?

When I press/release the recirc button, I can tell the change in the air-blowing noise, which makes me think the outside/inside recirculation door is moving fine. I don't hear the knocking sound described by others when their actuator fail. My heater works too, with all four vents blowing hot air. So the actuator is just having issue with sending cold air to the left 3 vents?

I found some youtube videos showing people how to replace the recirc door actuator without dismantling the dash. It is difficult but seems doable. I'm gonna give it a try and see if it fixes the problem.

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Old 07-12-2019, 02:20 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

Is your system manual or automatic? Manual hvac systems will have dials, knobs and pushbutton switches. Automatic climate control panels allow setting temperature with a digital display and the system regulates temps automatically, mixing heater with ac cooled air to meet dialed temps. The recirculation function either closes one mode door to prevent outside air into the interior or opens for fresh air flow into the vehicle. A separate temperature door controls heater and ac cold airflow.

Which system do you have?

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Old 07-12-2019, 10:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Is your system manual or automatic? Manual hvac systems will have dials, knobs and pushbutton switches.
Thanks for the reply. It's manual, with dials and pushbuttons.

Does the recirc door actuator only control the door that switches between interior and exterior air? There must be another door that mixes cold and hot air based on the temperature dial and a/c button right? Is it controlled by the same actuator?

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Old 07-12-2019, 10:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

The temperature door for a manual ac/heat system is just a second door. Manual temperature selection uses a cable to adjust the door selecting cold, warm, hot air whether ac is used or not. I'm not sure why you're being quoted almost $1k to replace two actuators unless this is a dishonest shop. My guess is your ac lost refrigerant from damage or leak. All ac systems are sealed for zero maintenance and any damage requiring repairs requires knowledge of refrigeration to restore ac cooling back to factory operation.

When ac is lost, no longer cooling, 98% of all ac problems are about leaks or damage, releasing refrigerant until ac cooling is lost. When this occurs, the compressor doesn't engage due to a pressure sensor detecting loss of refrigerant. A simple test for this is to examine the drive belt side of the compressor before starting the engine, observe the pulley turning when the engine's running and then turn on ac. The first two observations will show the belt not turning (engine off) then belt turning compressor pulley but the center portion of the compressor isn't turning (engine idling). With ac on, the center portion of the compressor should be turning (clutch engaged). If you do not see the clutch plate turning, the ac system is broken and most likely lost refrigerant from a leak.

To find a leak requires an inexpensive uv light to make dye mixed in refrigerant oil glow greenish yellow at night or dark garage. Find and fix the leak, evacuate the system of air and moisture then refill with refrigerant.

When ac works, vent temps should be as low as 35F. The compressor discharge line will be too hot to touch while the return line from the hvac box to the compressor may sweat and feel cool.

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Old 07-13-2019, 12:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

All Ions have manual climate controls. The air inlet door actuator is the only actuator in the HVAC system. It's only function is to open and close the fresh air inlet gate. The temperature and vent mode are both manually controlled with cables.

How long was the A/C running for when you took those temps?
Was the car sitting in direct sunlight beforehand? If so, for how long?
Have you inspected and/or replaced the cabin air filter (located behind glovebox)?

The interior of the car is going to be substantially warmer than the ambient air if it was sitting in direct sunlight. If the car was there long enough, the hot temps would have permeated through the entire dash. The A/C would need more than just a few minutes to cool down the air passages and yield an accurate air temp reading. Furthermore, the longer the air passage is, the more heat the air will collect before it exits at the vents.

...
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2007 Chevy Equinox LT 192K miles
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L 31K miles

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Old 07-13-2019, 01:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruley73 View Post
The air inlet door actuator is the only actuator in the HVAC system. It's only function is to open and close the fresh air inlet gate. The temperature and vent mode are both manually controlled with cables.

How long was the A/C running for when you took those temps?
Was the car sitting in direct sunlight beforehand? If so, for how long?
Have you inspected and/or replaced the cabin air filter (located behind glovebox)?
Thanks to both fdryer and ruley73 for replying.
The shop is Meineke and they did do a leak test. They said there's no leak. The fact that the right most vent goes down to 50 degrees, and that the car eventually cools down after 10 minutes or so tells me that the a/c works, just the cold air is not being sent to the left 3 vents.

I took those temps after I drove home from work, so it had been running for half an hour. I remember when things used to work well, it does not take more than a few minutes to get cold air coming out of the vents on the driver's side.

After seeing ruley73's explanation on the cable and actuator, I think the actuator might be fine. The problem might be with the temp control cable/door. It might be having difficulty opening up to let cold air flow to the left. I wonder if this what Meineke folks had in mind when they said there is a second actuator in addition to the recirc door actuator. They quoted 4.5 hr/$970 because the whole dash needs to be removed to access those parts.

Per ruley73's suggestion, I'm going to try replacing the cabin air filter, and while doing that I should be able to get a peek on the recirc door and confirm if it is working.

For the cable behind the temp control dial though, I don't know what to do with it if that's the problem, or the door it controls, Any suggestions?

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Old 07-13-2019, 05:56 AM   #7
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Post Re: 07 Ion A/C problem: only one vent is cold. Bad recirc door actuator?

Waxing on about a possible refrigerant leak, I lost sight of the possibility of the temperature door not traveling the full amount, creating warmer than desired temps by mixing in more heater airflow to the evaporator's cold air. A simple test may help to determine if the temperature door is stuck, jammed or needs adjustment - use the dial or selector lever to move from cold to hot and back several times. Most manually adjustable temperature controls make a sound sometimes when adjusting for extremes of temperature. As the dial or lever is adjusted from coldest to hottest or hottest to cold, the door sometimes hits its end stop with a slight noise. Leave the blower speed on low to hear the temperature door traveling to both positions, hot or cold.

Below are drawings from '05 Ion service manual. If the hvac control panels are similar, you might be able to check the temperature cable and its attachment to the control panel and lever on the temperature door. Being mechanical with a steel cable, damage can occur to the cable being kinked, broken tabs, damaged temperature door or foam insulation used to seal between assemblies, loosening and interfering with temperature door travel.
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