Heater/AC re-circulation door replacement - Jeep Commander Forums: Jeep Commander Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Heater/AC re-circulation door replacement

I found some old posts from 2010 related to this but they only covered the control gear replacement. Sorry if this is long....

On my 2006 at some point both control gears for the re-circulation door broke. This appears to be a pretty common problem. The gear on the motor itself is an easy 3 screws removed replacement. In my case the gear that connects to the door flap broke completely off with part of it still in the flap inside the housing. The door flap itself fell down in the housing so it restricted air flow to the whole system and there was an open hole from the outside air to the passenger floorboard. This meant that cold highway driving pretty much froze out the passenger even though the heat was running.

You can remove the glovebox and look upwards and easily see the housing and where the door would close but it is all in pretty tight quarters and you cannot remove/replace the top housing unless you want to do the full disassembly of the dash to the firewall. I read the rundown of that and once I saw what that entailed I said no thank you.

In order to get the door out I first tried to unscrew the 3 mounting screws for the top housing just to see if it would open enough to get the door out and remove the broken gear pieces. FYI the screw closest to the passenger kick panel is a real pain in the butt. Unfortunately the assembly is so tight in there I could only get it to move maybe an 1/8" up which is not enough. I guess the dealer is right on the whole "remove the entire dash" plan.

I had purchased a new housing assembly 68017816AB to get the new gears. After looking it over outside the jeep, I decided to take some snips and cut some of the hole cover grid connections on mine to give me a big enough hole to get the broken door flap out of the assembly. I cut the bottom 5 of the total 10 connections which allowed me to bend the shroud up some. With a little work I was able to turn the door inside the housing and pull it out.

I took the new door and gear out of the new assembly and worked to get it back together in the old existing assembly in the dash. Once you put the new replacement door in the existing housing it is very hard to relocate it back to the correct spot. In order to do this I took some 3M adhesive tape and made a couple handles and stuck them on one side so once inside I had a way to "steer" it. You have to get the non gear side up into its proper hole, then hinge it upward to the point you can slide the gear into the other side until it locks in. I basically used the tape handles to lift it up on the non gear side then once in place rotate the door towards what would be the re-circulation position towards the firewall. You can poke your finger in the gear side hole on the housing and feel when it is there so you can snap the control gear in. It only fits in at one position so make sure you eyeball it outside the jeep to get the rotation correct. Once it was back together I pulled hard enough to get my tape handles off and then put it all back together. I then took some epoxy and glued back the grid where I had snipped it. Done deal.

Now listen, none of this is fun. It's all pretty tight quarters and there is a lot of trial and error to get it all back together. It took me 2.5 hours to get it done but a lot of that was taking off the housing screws which turned out to be pointless and then putting them back in. I figured I would post this experience here in case anyone else ran into this problem as well. The dealership wanted close to $1,500-$1,700 for labor due to the "real" procedure it takes to do this. I now have heat again at any speed
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 01:54 PM
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Good to know, Thanks for the post Mark.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 02:37 PM
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Commanders are NOT the only vehicle with these problems NOR is Chrysler the only manufacturer that has them either.

I could be wrong, but I think the designer and builders of the HVAC boxes are a supplier for several companies.

You would think the one item they have to burry under the dash and requires extreme amounts of labor just to access the box to service and repair it, they would put a higher priority on reliability for this. But they don't, despite these problems for more than a decade the basic design has been in use, they still produce the HVAC boxes with flimsy plastic gears and doors.

The Evaporator failure rates are through the roof as well, sure they are compact and efficient, but couldn't they sacrifice a tiny bit of space and efficiency to make the evaporator passage walls a bit thicker and the structure a bit stronger to prevent cracks and erosion holes?

Thus when someone needs it repaired, they automatically have a $1200 for the labor to just access the box before the repair can even begin.

Last edited by Mongo; 03-03-2016 at 02:40 PM.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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I agree. It's crazy to me that they go so cheap on a part that is very difficult to get to. The new gear on the motor looks like its a harder resin plastic that would be stronger but the door gear looks like the same crap that broke the first time. When I was researching this I saw that the blend doors for dual controls have the same setup and no access without removing the dash. Fingers crossed that those never go out. Since mine is first model year 2006 I have a lot of things that were later upgraded in the newer years after they figured some stuff out (like door handles). This kills me that its the same part for all years and Grand Cherokees as well.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 03:55 PM
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The 2001 Dodge Caravan has the same basic design HVAC, and has the same problems (I had an '02 Grand Caravan with the gear failures) now I have a '10 Commander with the exact same gears in its design 9 years later? When do they realize that they need to spend a tiny bit more to make sturdier gears and linkages to prevent these costly and aggravating repairs for their customers.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 06:07 PM
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JGC PARTS offers blend doors for the 1999 grand Cherokee with video of how to install them nice part nice price done with only removing the glove box they may make or be the same for the XK not sure on that, check YOU TUBE

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 10:11 AM
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I've replaced the evaporator on my Commander, single zone system. So I don't know it all, but what I saw doing the evaporator replacement, it really looks like the only way to replace the Blend Doors themselves is to remove the entire dash.

The blend doors that had plastic shafts on the early HVAC of this design would break and jam, causing the gears and linkages driving them to bind, skip or break. They usually broke in a way that they didn't shear cleanly, more like a spiral fracture and thus they could still move some, making the diagnosis even harder.

On the later versions and appears the Commander, they beefed up the shafts and blend doors themselves, so they aren't breaking, but those large diameter shafts ride plastic on plastic as their bearing/bushing with some grease in them. Thus the lube can dry up, gum up, etc and the force to move the shafts can increase greatly, resulting in the flimsy plastic gears and linkages breaking or the motors burning out.

From what I've seen on the Commander, and maybe the Dual Zone is different, you have to pull the dash to change the doors themselves, you have to separate the shell, there is NO door that allows the blend door to be removed with the shell all together under the dash. If I'm wrong, I forgot enough about the job after doing it, as well, again I did a single zone, maybe the dual zone is different.

The drive motors, gears and linkages are external to the Shell, many can be gotten to reaching around and under the openings of the dash, difficult and requires lots of contortion, but its possible. There is at least one drive motor for an air blend door that is pressed right up against the safety/crash cage under the dash, there is NOT enough room to remove and replace it without removing that safety/crash cage, or at least unbolting it and tilting it back quite a bit, you have to remove the dash to get to that safety/crash cage.
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