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Old 11-25-2010, 02:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Heater, blower failure

I have been following all your posts with great interest and was able to resolve numerous problems which otherwise would have necessitated a trip to the dealer.

Right now I have a failure to heat at the front passenger side blower. Let me elaborate on the symptoms.
Being winter and bitterly cold, when I turn on the blower speed dial I get freezing air blown at the front passenger side. However, at a small side port on the passenger side I still get hot air, as well as hot air going to the drivers side, all vents and defrost.

I understand that this might be due to the fact that the blower is drawing air from the outside. Following that angle when I press the "recirculating" knob, the knob light does NOT light up and I do not hear any noise of a flap closing or opening.

However when I move the temperature control lever I can see a flap open and close, the only effect though is that the air flow is actually restricted when it is in the "cold" temp, then fully blasting cold air when the lever is in the "hot" position.

Where exactly is this cold air being drawn from, I was only able to locate a plastic intake up front by the passenger headlight, going down the front wheel well, temporarily blocking the air intake with a towel did not reduce the cold air flow into the passenger floor area. (probably not the right intake port)

Since the light on the recirculating knob does not light up, could it be as simple as a blown fuse or relay ? Fuse #20,#21 and the above relay RC-2219 are fine.
(the blower responds to the speed dial changes and is quiet)

Is this an electrical rather than mechanical problem ? Any more hidden fuses or relays not described in the manual ?

If not do I have to take the whole blower apart and work on the actuator arm ?

Which side of the blower is it on ?

Thanks
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Old 11-25-2010, 06:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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96 Outback?

Did you have the car last winter? If so, did it work then?

If not, when did you get the car, and do you know it's history? (Accidents, repairs)

Your description suggests that the devices that control the temperature and where the air comes out (lower foot vents, upper vents, defrost vents) aren't set properly, which could happen if someone was working on the heater in the past and didn't put it together properly.

Attached is a diagram which is "typical" for Subaru. The air is drawn in by the fan from the cowl, below the windshield on the right side. When in "recirculate", this external inlet is closed off, and the cabin air is drawn in through openings in the duct.

The temperature control directs the incoming air through the heater core, around it, or a mix of the two. The temperature is mechanical, but the linkage has to be set right for it to work.

The mode control, which adjusts where the air comes out. It uses an electric motor to adjust the vanes in the heater box. The power for this comes from fuse #15.
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Old 11-26-2010, 12:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you very much for taking the time to look at my post, I have been following your posts and already learned a lot.

To your questions, this is a new car for my daughter, owned it just over a month and just love it. So no idea on the cars history, repairs or accidents, first time using the heater.

When I bought it I had a major engine overhaul since it was not running smoothly. Changed all the plugs, cables, changed the timing belts, tensioners, pulleys, water pump, fuel injection kit and knock sensor. It runs great now.

I actually have all your diagrams from a different post where people were complaining that when they pressed the recirculating button they would hear a clicking sound. Solution was to locate and replace the actuator arm that opens and closes the entrance to outside air.

I think that my scenario is different because the recirculating button does not come on and no sound is made. Fuses #15,20,21 are all ok, #19 main fan relay is also ok, switched it with a known working #17 defroster relay. According to the schematics I downloaded there should be a #13 blower relay above the fuse panel, unable to locate in such cramped place, but does it matter if the blower works flawlessly ?

What concerns me is that I do not see power at the recirculating switch, do I need to locate the harness to #12 actuator mode and see if it is connected ?

Let me expand on the cold air blowing at the passenger side. When I have my hand on the round blower-squirrel cage, to the left on same housing are 4-5 1" square slots where the cold air is blowing out of. THIS IS THE ONLY spot that I get the cold air.

Further to the left some more is a larger rectangular outlet that gives me warm air. Once again I can still get warm air from the vents and defrost even as the cold air blows from the bottom
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Old 11-26-2010, 08:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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So, if I understand correctly, all the functions of the heater work (e.g. changing mode from heat to the floor to sending the warm air up for defrost, temperature, and fan speed) except for recirculate.

Are the "4-5 1" square slots" similar (perhaps not identical) to those in the picture below?

Those slots are where cabin air is drawn in when the heater is set to "recirculate". There's a door inside that, depending on the "recirculate" setting, will either block those openings (lower picture) thereby causing the fan to draw in outside air, or open the openings (upper picture) while blocking the outside air inlet (lower right). If the recirculate door is stuck in a mid-way position, cold air can come in from outside and then exit into the car through the "square slots".

(In the pictures, the housing is upside-down. The fan motor and squirrel cage fan are on the upper side.)

The fact that the light in the recirculate switch doesn't come on might simply be because the bulb is burned out. As far as I can tell from the wiring diagram the power source for the recirculate actuator motor is the same as for the mode actuator, so that would confirm the related fuse.

I wonder if you can get to the recirculate actuator and see if it's connected, and if it's working but the linkage is disconnected. My sense, as noted above, is that the recirculate door is not fully at one end or the other of its sweep, and that could happen if the linkage breaks or the motor stalls in that position. It could be that the actuator motor itself operates quietly and it's only when it is moving the linkage and door that there might be noticable sound. I'm not sure if the actuator and linkage are visible but would add that I've found inspection mirrors such as this (2" Mirror with Flexible Shaft) to be quite helpful in similar situations.
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Yes, you are correct, all functions are working well except the recirculating mode.
The picture you provided, showing the vents is definately not the area where the cold air is coming from. When you rotate the image with the blower cage pointing down, there is a single row of small squares on the left side of the black housing.
If you tell me where I need to place my pictures I will upload them, it asks for a URL
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Old 11-26-2010, 02:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The pics are only typical and not necessarily for your particular year. The vents might be in a different place on yours. Their location would probably suggest their purpose.

I think (not sure) that posting pictures, as I did using the "Go Advanced" reply screen, is allowed only after having 15 or so posts. But just in case, what I do is have the pics somewhere on my computer. Then when I use the "Go Advanced" screen, there's a "Manage Attachments" button. Pressing this brings up a pop up screen with "browse" buttons. Click on that and it looks at the computer hard drive. Select the location of the photo, and then the photo. Then click "upload". The photo is then attached to the reply.

If the 15 posts rule applies to you, then for now, upload the photos to an on-line photo storage, such as Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket. Then, when preparing a post, go to your file in photobucket and copy the URL of the photo. (It will have "URL" at the beginning and end.) Paste that into your text. When the message is then read here, the picture will appear exactly where you placed the URL. (In contrast, when uploading the way I do it, all attachments are at the end of the text, and in a reduced format.)
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I am working at uploading the pictures, worked an hour on the darn thing this evening, still does not work but my picture is worth a hundred words...
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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OK, so I first took off the glove compartment and this is what I see. (pic. 1)


To the right we see the blower components, with the now disconnected cables (pic. 2)


Now a view from the level of the floor mat, (pic. 3)

After a lot of tugging, busted knuckles, I undid the top and bottom screw on the heater console, as well as the bottom screw on the fan motor. Having some more play and with the aid of a mirror this if my culprit for the cold air blowing at the feet. (pic. 4)

So those 5 small hole discharge ports are not holes at all but an indentation, the blast of air is coming from the whole gap between the components where the foam should be.
Notice the white toggle switch, that is the part that moves when I move the temp. lever on the console, the ports on the left of the picture like I mentioned earlier still produce warm air.
At least we know where the cold air is coming from, I still have no control over the recirculating option.
Looking at the 1st pic where the blazes is the darn actuator arm ?
Disconnecting the heater console is impossible, feeling my way behind the box it feels like there is a lot of hoses.
On the other hand the blower part that connects to the heater console in the middle also hangs up somewhere on the right
Attached Thumbnails
Heater, blower failure-dscn0840.jpg   Heater, blower failure-dscn0844.jpg   Heater, blower failure-dscn0847.jpg   Heater, blower failure-dscn0850.jpg  
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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One more thing, I hope it does not confuse things even more. In this picture you can see two plugs disconnected from the heater console, bottom white and a smaller black on top. I had the heater and blower running just fine,
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Heater, blower failure-dscn0843.jpg   Heater, blower failure-dscn0844.jpg  
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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It appears that the recirc actuator is on the upper right of the intake unit, with the motor #10 and the actuator links #9, #2 and #3 in the Intake Unit diagram below.

With the gap between the intake unit and the heater unit, air being pushed by the fan exits the heater system before it gets to the heater itself. No wonder there's a cold blast.

In your second set of photos I can see the disconnected white connector, but can't seem to find the black one. My first inclination was that the white connector is for the heater motor resistor (used to control the speeds) but with the connector off, the fan wouldn't work on all speeds.

Does the fan work on all four speeds, or only high? If the latter, then that IS the heater resistor, and the plug should be put back. It's possible (and common) for the heater resistor to fail, causing the fan to work on some but not all speeds. The resistor pack is inside, on the opposite side of the connector, and is easy to replace.

Does the black connector have three wires? If so, it could well be the line to the recirc. actuator. (There appears to be three wires to the recirc. actuator, but the connector might be 4 pins, in-line.)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf MSA5TCD99L316.pdf (48.2 KB, 144 views)
File Type: pdf MSA5TCD99L315.pdf (62.1 KB, 90 views)

Last edited by plain OM; 11-27-2010 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Edit -- correct description of actuator connector
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