Question about 2003 Pontiac Vibe

6 Answers

Air recirculation door

The door that changes the air recirculation from outside air to inside air;
When you goes to outside air, the motor closes the door but it will not stop.The gears in the motor slip the door opens a little bit then closes
again and slips again . So you hear this bump bump bump all the time .
Would this need a new motor or switch?

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  • 4 more comments 
  • seeatee Sep 06, 2008

    I was trting to get to the motor with out taking the dash apart .

    I guess I can not avoid that . This is very helpful . Thank You

  • annieart Sep 14, 2008

    I have the same problem on my 2003 Vibe GT, with only 40,000 miles. Is it necessary to remove the dash to get to the recirculation motor?

  • rmholmstrom Dec 04, 2008

    I currently have the same thumpimg problem.

    Is there an esy fix , The fellow who wrote the original message should be told , all you have to do to get to the box is remove the glove cmpartment ,it comes out very easily

  • wallddoo Dec 20, 2008

    i have tbe same problem with my 04 vibe and when i took out the glove box, and watched the door come down and it started that thumping sound, all i did was reach in and push on the door hard enough to make it click a few times thinking i would move the gears to a new position. it seemed to work for me.

  • rampside61 Dec 21, 2008

    I have the same problem on a 2004. The glove box is easy to get out, take the screw out of the strut on the right side, then pull in on the sides of the box, and it will drop down. you can see the door inside trying to close, but it is skipping a gear. I gently pushed on the door untill I obviously broke off what was left of the offending gear. Works OK now, just only closes to 98%. Also noticed I had a filter door right under the recerc door, woo-hoo. I'll check into a new motor at the junk yard or dealer when the weather warms up.

  • arnoldmf Jan 04, 2009

    I have the same problem with my 2004 Pontiac Vibe. I have the glovebox out but cant see where the "flap" is to remove or fix it. The recirculator motor and fan appear to be in working order. Any advice/suggestions?


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I removed the rotary actuator from the left side of the air box after removing the glovebox. There are two screws holding it in. You will need a 1/4" drive ratchet with a 5.5mm socket for the lower screw and a 5.5mm offset box end wrench (easiest) for the upper. Warning: the upper screw will drive you nuts getting it out! It can't be seen but you can feel it. Up-plug the actuator by carefully un-latching the plug assembly with a small screwdriver. Remove the whole assembly. It just slides on the shaft that operates the door.
The problem is inside the actuator. The gears have weak teeth and have probably been stripped of a couple. GENTLY pry the actuator open. There are several assembly snaps that you'll need to be careful not to break off or you will be gluing the halves back together as i did.
The large gear (final output gear) will be missing teeth. Remove it and index the gear 180 degrees re-engaging some fresh teeth to the driver (pinion) gear. If you're off a few teeth in either direction, It won't matter. The motor shuts off with a resistance switch during operation. Re assemble and you're good to go. (At least until they wear out). I saved about $300 over having the dealer replace the motor/actuator.
Eventually, the motor assembly will need replacing. But at least it's a DIY job. Still saving $$$.
Email me ??

Posted on Jan 21, 2009

  • jrobertso781 Mar 22, 2011

    This worked well for me. I was quoted $86 to purchase the part from the Pontiac dealer and will do so the next time the teeth break out. In the mean time, thanks for a free fix!

  • Bubba Oct 12, 2011

    Quicker fix. Just unplug the elec connector at the actuator motor. First start engine, tun on AC and turn off recirc. and ensure the flap returns to the outside air position (rear of veh). When you hear the "clicking/thumping" sound, reach in and unplug connector. This locks the flap in outside air position. You know have full range of heat/AC, and floor, chest, defrost positions. You just don't have recirc AC. Also, while you have the glove box out, go ahead and clean/change the filter below the recirc flap.


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I had this same problem. I took out the glove box . remove screw on bar on rh side of box when open. squeeze sides of box in . It will come forward and out. Once inside you will see the flap that is bumping. Up on the Left hand side of it is a small motor assembly that drives this flap. There are 2 screws to remove it , one you can see and the other is up on the top.( small hands would have helped but I got them out). Once the screws were removed the motor part will pull away from the flap. It just couples up with the end of the flap pinion that has 2 flats on it. Disconnect the electrical by lifting the tab. Using a screw driver open up the motor gear unit by lifting all the tabs (good luck not breaking any) and prying along the middle. Once apart you will probably notice a section of the big white gear missing teeth. I lifted that gear up and rotated clockwise so that it went about 200 degrees. Then you have to reassemble and see if the unit will go back in to where the 2 screws hold it. You also want to make sure that you remove all the broken teeth parts.

Posted on Aug 19, 2009

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Thanks for the fix - rotating the gear 180 solved the problem for me, at a cost of $0.00!
The only thing I would add was that in order to get better access the top screw, I removed the radio head unit. That made it a bit easier, as I did not have the special offset box wrench you mentioned.

Posted on May 17, 2009

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A new motor would take care of that , cause the sensing switch(potentiometer) is in the motor assy.. so if the motor runs past the desired position then the switch is bad in the motor pack. if the swicth on the dash was bad then the motor wouldn't move because it thinks it is in the right position and no action is required. i just hope the splines are not stripped on the recerc. door from extended malfunction. - good luck.

Posted on Sep 05, 2008

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I've searched the Internet and the suggestions from m2mustang, fzpg6x, and mglotz on this page were absolutely the best! I have a few additional comments to make the fix a little easier. Remove the black wire connector from the actuator assembly first, to get it out of the way. It has a locking flap on the left side that you can lift up with your fingernail (the free edge is toward the front of the car). The two screws are REALLY hard to get to, especially the top one. Loosen them with a 5.5 mm socket, attached to a short (about 1") ratchet adaptor, which can be turned with a 1/4" offset ratchet box wrench (my Craftsman set is one of my all-time favorite tools). When they're loosened, turn the screws by hand with just the socket. If you drop the socket or the screws, they may end up on the bar or ledge on the left side. The actuator assembly slides out toward the left. To open the assembly, slide small screwdrivers in the crack between the 2 halves and gently pop open each latch with another screwdriver. Be sure to have the side with the label (the side facing left in the car) on top when you open it to avoid having the gears.Just like the others have commented here, my large white gear was missing two adjacent teeth, one of which I found closeby (I don't know where the other one went). Push that gear up and turn it so that the curved edges of the connection at the bottom of the gear point toward the screw holes. This allows it to match up with the resting position of the recirculation flap. When everything it put back in place, make sure the flap moves forward when the recirculation button is pushed in and that it moves backward when that button is in the out position. Good luck!

Posted on Sep 16, 2012

  • tscjiv Sep 16, 2012

    I meant to say "to avoid having the gears fall out."


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Thank you. This worked for me. I have small hands and that top screw is really difficult to get to. I purchased the 10-pc Midget Combination Wrench set ($20) from Sears which has a 7/32 closed end offset wrench. Without it, I could not come close to getting that top screw. Even then, it was tough. Totally by feel to get that top screw. I used 6 small screw drivers to hold the clips up when I split the unit apart and did not break any clips. Rotated 180 degrees and now no clicking.

Posted on Sep 22, 2011

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