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July 4, 2007

How to Fix Your Car's Blower Fan

I have two cars:
1) Toyota Camry 2001
2) Chevy Malibu 2003

For the last few months, the climate control fan on the Chevy has only worked at 3 or above. As of last week, the fan on the Camry only works on the highest setting. I initially thought (read: hoped) it was a blown fuse, because those are easy to replace, and relatively inexpensive. It wasn't.

A little bit of research led me to believe it might be a relay. A little more research led me to realize it wasn't. Instead, the most likely culprit was the blower motor resistor module (or pack). The resistor pack is used to limit the amount of current that goes to the blower motor, slowing it down. As resistors fry, the fan stops working on lower settings, but continues to work on higher ones.

I decided to approach this problem one car at a time, and selected the Malibu. There was a fair amount of info on how to replace the module online. A drawing showed the approximate location and the step-by-step process described on WikiAnswers made it sound doable.

My local Pep Boys didn't carry the part I needed, but AutoZone did, so they got my business. Their part number was DR774, and it cost $22.99+tax.

I read the instructions, and then got down to business. Had I understood what the author meant by "universal joint" I would have realized I had one. Instead I used my 1/4" flex bar, but it still couldn't get into the REALLY tight space of the back-most screw on the resistor pack. I managed to get the darn screw out, but it took a lot longer my way (using pliers to turn the socket). I read somewhere about slotting the screw to make it easier to re-insert. I used my Dremel to do so, which was fun, but it didn't help. It's also possible that the slotting method suggester meant to slot the hold in the resistor module (in order to slide it under an already partially screwed in screw), but I didn't try that so I can't comment on it.

After having worked upside down (head under glove compartment, feet on leaned back passenger's seat) for the better part of an hour, I was quite happy to find that my installation was a success!

AutoZone also carries the resistor pack for my Camry (part #JA1334 $19.99+tax), but not in-store. I stopped by today to order it through the store - it will be delivered by Monday.