Question about 2003 Ford Windstar

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Only have cold air blowing from front heater of van

I have a 2003 ford windstar that makes a clunking noise when trying to change from cold to hot heat in front. trying to find someone to tell what it is and how to fix it. cant afford a mechanic and its cold here in upstate ny

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  • dddosier1 Dec 17, 2008

    same here, same year, same sound

  • pmessier Dec 28, 2008

    Me, too. Same year, same noise and problem....word has it that it is a long standing design flaw with almost all Ford models. Too much fun! No money for a mechanic, either.

    I guess I'll freeze for a while!

  • Anonymous Mar 19, 2014

    the mechanic changed fluids now my van runs hot. i then turn heater on and it settles to normal. turn heater off then it heats up. is there a bleed sequence or a bleed screw ???



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The clicking noise is the door blend actuator. It is located in the dash panel behind the radio. It is about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

I priced this job at a dealer and it came in for around $300!

This is a really simple repair, a great choice for the do-it-yourselfer.
Here are the steps/procedures for doing this repair yourself in about 30 minutes:

  • Tools to do the job:
    • Ford radio removal tools
    • 5/16 nut-driver
    • Flashlight
    • Small hands or band-aids

  • Remove the radio -

    • Insert the U-shaped 'handles' into the vertical pair of holes on each side of the front of the radio until you feel it hit an indent / click .

    • With both tools inserted, push outward on the top of the tools while pulling the radio out & away from the dash.

    • Disconnect the 2 wire harness connectors & the antenna.

  • (Optional) Remove A/C & Radio control dash panel
  • Removing the A/C & Radio control dash panel gives you additional access to the actuator to help with removal and installation. This is not a difficult option.

  • Loosen and remove two screws revealed just above radio when radio was removed.

  • Loosen and remove two screws inside (one on each side) the drink holder & ash tray drawer.

  • Gently pull the loosened section of the dash panel forward.

  • Do not remove connectors for A/C control panel. You'll need the A/C control panel active to align the driver post of the actuator with the blend door drive hole.

  • You might want a helper to hold the panel off to the right while you work.

  • Reassembly is exactly reverse.

  • Remove / replace the blend door actuator -

    • Looking in through the radio opening, locate the actuator module - a white plastic unit about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

    • Use the nut-driver to remove the three 5/16ths mounting screws.

    • Disconnect the wiring harness located on the side

    • Reverse steps to re-install
    • In order to line up the shaft I had to crank the car and move the temp selector. Note: You do not have to turn on the A/C system for the temp selector to control the actuator, but you must have the actuator control cable re-connected.
  • Reassemble the dash panel.
  • Reinstall the radio (watch that no cables bind during the reinstallation.
  • What the actuator is / does:
  • Inside this unit is a circuit board, motor and small plastic round gears. The gears then rotate the actuator, which in turn opens and closes the damper allowing the air to pass through the heater core.

  • What happens is some of the little teeth break off creating a gap on the gear wheel. This gap prevents the gears from driving the actuator shaft.

  • The unit may be known as a heater damper module by the dealer. Should cost around $60-$75. (One reader acquired the actuator for $34 from O'Reilly.)
  • This unit was purchased from Advanced Auto for $ 45 and the flat rate is .4 hours. I did mine in around thirty minutes with the hardest part being getting the radio out ( it seemed stuck ).

Posted on Dec 28, 2008

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The cluncking noise is a door that covers the cooling part to let the air flow through the heater core. Does the air get warm at all? I have a quick fix if by chance the heater core is plugged and you would probably need to change it later on. Take the hoses that run into the car and switch them, I know that one is bigger than the other but you can figure a way to do it.even if you have to buy one hose in the larger size. that changes the flow to go the other way and most of the time it works on a plugged heater core. I became a mechanic because i couldn't afford to have anyone else to do it, and it sure paid off when i was younger.
God Bless Greg

Posted on Nov 25, 2008

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same issue on my 2000. Broken flapper door on mine, and it is very difficult to get to. it might be the electical motor on yours. it is behind your radio, need a tool to remove your radio. you will see a white box with three screws. remove the box and get tested to see it needed replaced. when I took mine off, the flapper door that attaches to it fell, indicating a broken door. sure enough, pulled off heater core under flapper and found parts - not fun!! a family of mice made a bed on my heater core, broke the door. trying to fiqure out now how to replace door.

Posted on Aug 29, 2009

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The unit in the back has its own heater core. That's what i thought the clunking was.It has to clunck to go into heating mode.It shuts off the airconditioner The clunk noise just gets louder with age because the strip around the door wears off. The unit in the front has it's heater core is underneath the glove box real hard to get to. In other word's it has two heater cores. That's why i suggested just reversing the hoses and just flushing till you could afford heater core replacement.
God Bless Greg

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