It could be that the motor that controls the hot/cool air mix is broken... that was the case w/ my windstar... the temp control didn't do anything (and I heard a clicking when trying to change from hot to cold). When I pulled out the radio and the control panels, there was a small white box that sits on the fire wall. it is a small electric motor, and when i pulled it out I found that the gears inside were cracked. A new one was around $85, and that fixed the problem...
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the thermostat is in the thermostat housing. that is the end part of the upper radiator hose, where it connects to the engine. assuming the car is otherwise running OK it is not your problem, replacing it is a waste of your time. most likely the heater core is shot, that is where you should be looking. it sits within the heater box which is most likely behind the dash under the glove box, over the passenger footwell.
This noise is the blend door electric stepper motor, this motor controls the door inside the heating ducts that diverts air across the heater core to heat the van, either the bleen door is warped from heat and stuck, or the blend door motor is defective, in order to fix this the dash assembly must be pulled to gain access to the motor and the door.
If you have a knock or clicking noise behind the radio, it is the blend motor. The blend door is spring loaded and the gears in the blend motor are "stripped". The door is spring loaded so that the door is closed to the heater core. About 2 hours to replace and a lot of bending and stretching. You don't have to remove the dash, but all of the trim, radio, and controls will need to come out.