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sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 22675
Experience:  ASE Master and Advanced level certified. Factory trained with 15 years dealership experience
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Solara: 1999 Solara SLE with a climate control problem

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I have a 1999 Solara SLE with a climate control problem. The system only blows air through the dash vents regardless of the "mode" setting. Fan works fine (all speeds), temperature is good (hot/cold air when appropriate for temp setting) I can hear a servo running when I run the system through its self check (recirc/auto buttons pressed) but the air does not change direction (only blows through dash vents) no floor or defrost.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

There are a couple possible causes for it not changing modes. There are a few electric actuators on the heater box so the one you are hearing may or may not be the mode door actuator.

It could be the control head itself. The control head is what controls the actuators, if it has failed and isn't powering the actuator when you command it to then modes won't change.

It could be wiring between the control head and actuator.

It could be the mode door actuator.

It could be the door itself. If the door has locked up or it has broken then it won't be able to change modes. If the actuator you are hearing is truly the mode door actuator then you can rule out the control head and wiring and likely the actuator. If the actuator is making noise but the door isn't moving then either the door itself is broken/bound up, or the actuator is locked up yet still making noise.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The servo that is running is just above the gas peddle, it's small and rectangular with one actuator connected to it. It is moving and the arm it's connected to is also moving.

There appears to be another, larger controller above it with a large white plastic "gear" connected to several actuators, it does not move during the CC "self check"


I am getting a code 23 from the control panel.


Last week, the system started working fine out of the blue, it lasted for about 3 days and now it's back to blowing out of the dash vents only.

The mode door actuator is the one higher up and is connected to the large plastic cam gear.

Code 23 is for the a/c pressure sensor and won't be related to the mode switching problem.

If it did start working again for a while and then stopped then it's not likely to be a door issue, more likely the actuator or control head. The actuator would be the most common.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Is this actuator integral to the heat box? (can it be replaced without buying the entire heat box assembly?) Does the entire dash have to be disassembled to get access to it? (just trying to guestimate how much beer to buy LOL)

Yes, the actuator can be replaced without having to replace the heater box. Your dealer or possibly a parts store can get you a replacement actuator.

The service information calls for dash removal to be able to access the actuator. Everything will need to be disconnected, steering column dropped and then the dash rolled back and layed across the seat area. In some cases though you can get around this on some vehicles but it is tough to do when they are in such tight areas. If you're able to see the actuator that's a plus. It calls for 5.2 hours of labor to replace the actuator, so base your beer estimate on that. Just don't let the drinking start until the job is nearly done!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Well, at least it's (hopefully) not the heat box assembly ($$$)Smile


Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX the dealer for the part and clear a weekend to dig into this thingUndecided

I doubt it's going to be a problem internal to the heater box now that you've found it did start working again for a bit. I believe the problem is going to be electrical rather than physical in the box.

You're welcome! If I have been helpful rating my performance with at least OK Service or better will give me credit for helping you. Goo luck with your car!
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