Jeep JK A/C Blend Door Actuator Replacement23
A/C blend door actuator in your Jeep JK is a very important part of the heating and cooling system and is responsible for controlling the temperature of the air blowing thru the vents and into the cabin. To blow heat into the cabin, the blower motor sends air through the heater core and on through the dash vents. But when heat is not desired, the blend door actuator directs that airflow away from the heater core. Unfortunately blend door actuators can fail at some point and cause the inability to change the air temperature inside your Jeep. The reason I needed to replace the blend door actuator in my Jeep was due to the horrible and loud ticking/grinding noise that it was making every time I put the key in the ignition. I also noticed that the actuator resets itself and makes the same noise after about two minutes from turning off the engine. With the Jeep being topless and doorless, and me using public parking lots, I was afraid someone walking by would freak out and call the cops, thinking my Jeep was about to explode…
You might also experience this loud ticking noise when you open your door, turn on the ignition, or turn the temperature knob on the HVAC control panel. You might also simply not have any hot air coming to the cabin, which means that your blend door actuator is not working at all, and needs replacing.
Here are a couple of videos showcasing the noise being emitted by the broken blend door actuator: video 1 and video 2. I also used these videos in the process of creating this step-by-step write up. Thank you to the authors of the videos!
I could be wrong, but I believe there are actually three actuators installed in a Jeep Wrangler JK, each responsible for different function. There is the blend door actuator responsible for controlling the temperature, the directional actuator (probably not a correct technical name) responsible for directing the air to different vents, and the re-circulation door actuator which controls the air dam behind the glove box.
Each actuator is activated by a different knob or setting on the HVAC control panel.
If you run your Jeep for few minutes, take the glove box out, and turn off the engine, after about two minutes you can see and hear three small motors re-calibrating the three actuators, in sequence.
I do believe all three actuators are the same exact part even though they are mounted in different locations. Blend door actuator is located on the driver side below the steering column, directional actuator is located behind the glove box on the left side, and the re-circulation door actuator is located on the right side of the air dam, behind the right speaker.
This step-by-step write up describes replacement of the blend door actuator only, since that’s the one that failed in my case. As a reference I included a photo of the directional actuator in the last picture.
I have a 2012 Jeep JK so if you own a different Model Year JK, some things might look different.
Replacing the blend door actuator itself is quite simple, however getting access to it is the time consuming part.
The whole process of a Jeep JK A/C blend door actuator replacement will most likely take you about 2-3 hours, depending on few factors, especially on how long it takes you to remove the floor air duct, blocking access to the actuator. That step might take you few minutes or an hour.
Like I always mention I am not a professional mechanic, I just try to do as much work on my Jeep as possible. It helps me learn more about my vehicle and save some money that can be spent on parts and upgrades.
I take no responsibility for any injury or breakage which might occur if you decide to follow these steps. You have to decide if you’re comfortable working on your Jeep. If you’re not, please have a professional complete this project for you.
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Parts and tools needed:
1. Jeep JK A/C Blend Door Actuator by MOPAR, or Dorman A/C Heater Blend Door Actuator
2. 3/8″ Ratchet and 8mm & 10mm sockets
3. 10″ Long 3/8″ Drive Extension Bar
5. Stubby Phillips Screwdriver
6. 45-Degree Bent Long Nose Pliers
Prepare your tools and get everything ready before you start the project.
Disconnect negative terminal of your battery. This is an optional step, however you are going to be disconnecting and reconnecting electrical connectors inside your Jeep during this project.
The driver side A/C blend door actuator is located inside your Jeep’s dashboard, below your steering wheel. Removing your driver side door completely will help you with access to the components you’re going to be working on.
Remove the plastic panel below your steering wheel. It is held in place by four clips. Start from the top and pop it off. It will tilt downward on the two plastic hinges at the bottom. Put the entire panel to the side.
Remove the metal plate by unscrewing two 10mm bolts.
Removing the metal brace on the right side will provide better access to other components. Remove the top bolt using an 8mm socket.
Remove the bottom bolt with an 8mm wrench.
Unscrew two bolts securing the control box, using an 8mm socket with 10″ extension. No need to unplug the box, however you will need to pull it away from the Jeep’s body and twist it, in order to move it away from the actuator and gain better access to it.
Now comes the most frustrating part 🙂 For total access to the blend door actuator, it’s arm and the track, you will need to remove the air conditioning floor duct. The duct is made out of two plastic pieces, held together with seven tabs. Separating the two halves and pulling them out is going to be the most time consuming and irritating part of the entire project. Take your time and be patient. What I found to work best is to squeeze the outer shell of the duct in the middle with one hand, and with your other hand place your finger between the two halves right at the top. Carefully but forcefully run your finger along the edge of the duct and you should be able to feel the outer shell separating. As soon as you get more leverage, the process should become easier. Be mindful of all the wires in the area. When you finally get the outer half of the duct free, pull it out thru the bottom of the footwell.
With the outer portion of your Jeep’s floor duct gone, it’s time to remove the inner half. It is not held in place with any screws, it is only attached at the top by being pushed into an opening in the distribution housing. The duct is held there with a couple of tabs. I found that simultaneously twisting the duct upwards and towards the front of the Jeep, helped with the removal. It is a slow process as the duct seems to come out just a bit at a time. Again, be patient and take your time. As soon as you get it loose, simply pull it out thru the bottom of the footwell. Pay attention to the way it’s coming out, so you can reverse the process later on.
Better view of your Jeep JK driver side floor duct assembly.
Floor duct’s two halves with the tabs holding them together.
Closeup of the edge and one of the tabs.
Upper portion of the inner shell of the duct, with the holes and bend/tab holding it secured to the dashboard.
With the air duct gone, you now have full access to the actuator and the track that it connects to. Before you remove the actuator, unplug it’s electrical connector. You can also unplug the accelerator pedal connector, for better access to the two screws securing the actuator in place. Carefully remove the two screws with a stubby Phillips screwdriver, making sure you don’t strip or drop them. Pull out the blend door actuator, with the arm attached.
You can open up the actuator if you want to inspect the mechanism inside, and the damage causing it to not work properly.
The most common reason for the actuator to fail is a broken gear tooth. These gears are made of plastic and brake without warning. It would be nice if these gears were metal, however I don’t believe that’s even an option on brand new replacement actuators.
Carefully remove the plastic arm attached to the old actuator and transfer it to the new one. Try attaching it at a similar angle.
Install your new blend door actuator. Position the pin of the arm inside the track, position the body of the actuator in place, and secure with the two screws. I found it helpful to use the 45-Degree bent long nose pliers to hold the screw with one hand and operate the stubby screwdriver with the other hand. Plug in the electrical connectors of the actuator and accelerator pedal. If you wish you can reconnect your battery now, to test your new actuator, otherwise reconnecting the battery can be your last step. If everything seems to work correctly, start carefully installing the air duct back in place. Make sure no wires get in the way while you snap the two halves of the duct together. Secure the control box back in it’s location, install the metal brace and the plate, and finally push-in the plastic panel under your steering wheel.
UPDATE: About a week after installing the Dorman blend door actuator I actually ended up replacing it with the MOPAR version. Right after the Dorman actuator was first installed I started having an issue with the defrost light on the control panel blinking for approximately 30 seconds every time I started my Jeep. Only after the indicator stopped blinking, the air would begin to come out of the vents. The actuator would also randomly make whining noises. It is possible that I received a defective part. I ended up returning it and bought the MOPAR actuator, which I installed the same way. I have not had any issues since.
As a reference, here is a picture of the “directional” actuator, located behind the glove box, on the left side and mounted to the center console. The recirculation door actuator is located on the right side of the air dam, behind the right speaker, and not visible without removing the speaker box.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below.
23 thoughts on “Jeep JK A/C Blend Door Actuator Replacement”
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Thanks for the instructions! Just had to replace my blend door on my 2012 JKU. It took me about 75 mins. Only 15 min to get out the floor duct. Be careful with wire, but you can just manhandle it as you’re pulling and twisting. Make sure you put all your bolts and screws in a nice safe place. Of course, I lost one of the 8mm for the bracket. I was putting everything right on the floor in my weather tech liner. I’ll find it or have to go to the hardware store for one. But your directions and picture illustrations, spot on. Thanks again. Dave
One more thing to add. When you actually pull out the actuator, leave the arm on, until you have your new one right there to make the swap. Remember the angle. I pulled mine of as soon as I got it out and well, 2 correction later, I got it in the right spot.
This is the BEST instructional I’ve seen on this issue!! I’ve been pouring through forums trying to diagnose my JK heat issue and this one has pretty much convinced me it’s my blend actuator. I didn’t have the ticking noise but it’s basically dead in the water with no movement. Although I dont have the tools nor the patience to fix this, I am armed with the knowledge when I go to the mechanic! Sooo appreciate this!!!
Thank you, this was extremely helpful, especially the section on how to remove the duct work. I would add that I found it easier to join the duct work together before putting it back. Also, step #8 – I found it easier to remove the front wiring harness on the module to gain more slack and move it out of the way. Great article, appreciate the detailed photos!
Additional note… if you do disconnect the wiring harness from the black control module (step #8) before gaining access to the actuator… make sure you reconnect it until it clicks into place…. otherwise, you’ll never get out of first gear 🙂
Any thoughts on a 2010 JK? I have plenty of heat on the passenger side, but only luke warm on the drivers side. I have flushed the collent system and there were no obstructions. Black flushed the heater core, replaced the blend door actuator, located on the passenger side behind the speaker box. In the photos you have it shows blend doors beside the heater core and on the drivers side. I don’t have either of these… any info would be great.
On my 2010 Mountain Edition JK, the blend door is operated by a cable, no electric actuator. I’m also experiencing the “no heat on the driver’s half of the vehicle” syndrome. All things pointed to the blend door actuator as the culprit. After ripping everything apart lo and behold, no electric actuator!! I confirmed the temp control knob does move the arm through its full range and it in turn is connected to the actual blend door. My next move is heater core replacement, it seems.
Just got off the phone with my friendly, local Jeep dealership. I was given an estimate of $2200 to replace the mode door actuator assembly and it “will need” a heater core soon so I should replace that too while they have the whole dashboard removed. I was also told it would take 12 hours to do the work. Yeah, RIGHT!!!! None of this sounds right.
Ever since they replaced the passenger side air bag due to a recall 2 years ago, I noticed the difference in air flow.
What are your thoughts?
The best instructions on the net for this problem! The only note I would add is that I had a similar problem but without the clicking. The noise mine made was a sort of tightening sound. It sounded like the motor had reached the end of the arm but kept turning. Sort of like a squeaking door. The motor was not a mopar so it must have been changed before. I did instal a new mopar part However, using the mopar actuator did not resolve the same flashing defrost light and delayed fan start issue you mentioned in your update. I will change the other 2 actuators and see if that corrects the issue. I’ll repost if it does. Thanks. So much for the detailed info. Please keep it up.
Just to be clear: You do not have to take your dash apart to see if the bland door works or not. I have a 2007 JKU and I held my cell phone camera under the dash with light on it and was able to video tape the blend door acuator perfectly cycle through the full range when I moved the hot cold switch on dash. I did take just the cover and the metal plate off under the steering wheel first, but I did not remove the bracket or the vent. I did not even haveto remove the plate or cover from under steering wheel. No need to spend time disassembling when you can look up way easier. Thanks
That is correct only for Jeep JK Model Year 07-11. For 12-18 JK’s, everything under the dashboard changed, and there is much more stuff there. This particular write-up is for a 2012 JK, so unfortunately all the steps described here are necessary to get access to the blend door actuator.
Thank you for your comment though!
Thank you for writing this!!! These instructions were spot on for my 2013 JK Sport. I was able to complete the replacement in about an hour and a half without issue.
One note – My floor duct actually popped out in one piece. I did have to separate the two sides to get it reinstalled though.
This was an amazing tutorial. I’ve had no air conditioning (only hotter than hades) for about two years because the dealer said it would be $2000+ to fix it. After 2 hours and a new actuator, I have air conditioning again! The details and the photos were perfect. I especially appreciate how you name the proper tools at the beginning. I made a trip to the Home Depot before I started to get the proper extension arm and a stubby Philip’s head, and it would have been super annoying if I didn’t have those on hand after ripping the front apart.
The floor vent was tricky, just as you said, but I finally figured it out. While it’s still fresh in my mind, I’ll add a few details that were helpful for me in case someone using this tutorial in the future might find it helpful.
1.) It would have been helpful to better understand the anatomy of the floor vent before I ripped it out. The top shell is tabbed just as you describe. The bottom one, however, I had a hard time figuring out how it was in there. After jiggling and twisting and yanking, I finally just took a pair of pliers and pulled it out as gently as possible because I was tired of messing with it. Once I had it out, it made more sense. The plastic vent that you’re removing is a female receptacle. It attaches to a male opening that’s connected to the center panel. The male component has two tabs on the top and two on the bottom. When you install the floor vent, the tabbed male piece goes inside the opening of the floor vent, and the tabs lock into the holes on the vent. I didn’t understand when trying to take it out that I needed to be twisting clockwise while pushing down rather that pushing up. I thought the vent was a tabbed male end going into a female receptacle on the center panel, but it was the opposite.
2.) Separating the two halves was also tricky. I found that starting at the bottom (the part that points towards the floor board) worked really. It’s way easier to access that part, so I fiddled with it until it unsnapped the first tab at the very bottom. Then, I took a skinny flathead screwdriver between the two sections and worked it up towards the next tab above it. With the added tension, the tabs popped easily by pressing on them with another flathead screwdriver. Hope this helps someone.
Thanks again. You saved me a ton of money, and I finally have cold air again! I’m so elated. Cheers!
Did you have to do some kind of calibration to get the blend door to match up with temp control?
Great write up.. Thanks.
Some thoughts would be appreciated. My 2015 is not allowing much in the way of cold air. I would go so far as to say it is only cool air on the passenger side and only warm air on driver side. Would this be solely the blend door or would directional actuator also be suspect? Getting plenty of air out of all the vents, just not the right temps…
A/C system appears to be functioning properly.
I just did the actuator replacement and want to thank you for the AWESOME post on how to do it.
Your pictures and guidance were excellent!!
I have a 2015 Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock and the heat just stopped working. No noises, but I could see that the actuator arm was not moving when going from cool to heat. I brought it to my local mechanic and he traced it down to the blend door actuator. But he said he could not do it and I would have to bring it to the dealer. I was not going to pay over $2000 at the dealer. So I took your advice and went for it.
It took me about 90 minutes, not including the time to go and get the part at Advanced Auto. In stock $28. Dorman Part# 604-029
The hardest part was definitely the floor vent removal and replacement. Mine came out in 2 pieces and went in the same but getting them snapped back together was a bitch. And removing the control module was a little tricky to get the bolts out. To put them back in, I used a small piece of blue painters tape and taped the bolt to the socket so that it wouldn’t fall off when sticking the extension into the dash.
Otherwise it was pretty much exactly how your directions were. I would not say that this repair was for a beginner, but if you are handy and get all the tools listed and are persistent you can save two grand!!
Thanks again for your excellent information. It is very much appreciated.
Great write up. Had this issue with my 2017 JK. Took a good 2 hours…but 90 minutes of that was wrestling with the #&^@’ing inner half of that vent. Eventually gave up and just installed the new actuator with that half of the duct still in place. It was flexible enough with the outer half removed that I could work around it. Still would advise spending a few minutes trying to remove it …but if it fights you too much, the job IS doable with it still in place.
Thanks for the detailed pics and instructions!
removing the very bottom right bolt in step 5 will really help with removing the floor duct. It creates about another 1/2″ which is just enough. Sorry I could not figure out how to post a picture
Thank you so much for posting this. You have done the community a huge service. Any tips on replacing the air duct? Should I replace the duct while separated like removal? Any tips on lining up the upper most part that snaps in? I really have no clue. Also during inspection of the actuator I lightly moved the arm and it actuated correctly, thinking maybe it was stuck. While attempting to replace the duct, I must have bumped into the actuator and it seized again? Is this the time to replace it? I am not making any grinding noises which I would assume my teeth are still in tact.
Again thank you tremendously
I should have said, re-install instead of “replace”. I’m sorry
If anyone wants to know how to do the passenger side let me know. I just did both sides and without this blog I would’ve never been able to do driverside. Thank you
As mentioned before, these are the best instructions for this repair. The Dorman states calibration must be done. However, I put the old actuator next to the new one and put the arm in the same position. Seems to be working fine. Thank you for posting this and the pics. 90 minutes from door disconnect to back in garage and that was with a strange ignition turn investigation while putting the first half of vent back in.
Thanks a lot for the guide! Just a comment and a “pro-Tip”:
I was unable to remove the air conditioning floor duct. No matter how hard I tried and bend and squeezed…, it didn’t come off. Since the number of injuries on my hands kept growing, I had a second search in the internet and found a youtube video where somebody replace the actuator without removing the duct. I did the same with great success. It’s a bit more complicated to get it in place but it worked perfectly fine and fast.
Now to the pro-tip:
I highly recommend to open the A/C Blend Door Actuator box! Yes, the manufacturer did put grease into the actuator, but it was sitting on the top of the gears instead in between. I also opened the old, replaced actuator and found the same situation, where the gears where fully dry and the in the meantime old grease was still sitting on the top of the gear.