Replacing Your Climate Control Unit in Four Easy Steps
A damaged climate control unit contributes to an extremely unpleasant ride both to the driver and the passengers. If a climate control unit is busted, the driver and passenger vents will only blow warm air even if the controls are set at the minimum temperature. This is precisely why it has to be replaced as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, you can even do the replacement all by yourself. Even the most inexperienced owner can have it installed in less than an hour. Following are four easy steps to guide you through the process.
Required skill level: Novice
Needed tools and materials
- New climate control unit
- Ratchet set
- Socket set
Preparing for the replacement
To get things started, park the vehicle in a safe and level place. You also need to cool the car down if it has been used previously. Once cool, pop the hood and disconnect the battery from the negative wiring.
Accessing the climate control unit
Sit on the driver's seat and locate the climate control unit at the dashboard. Pull the plastic trims surrounding the control unit. These trims have metal retaining clips. Once you pull the trims, you would also need to pull the clips out of the retaining holes. You will now have complete access to the climate control unit.
Removing the climate control unit
There will be bolts that secure the position of the climate control unit. There are usually four bolts. Using the socket and ratchet sets, remove the bolts. Once the bolts are removed, you can freely pull the faulty climate control unit out of the dashboard. However, there will be wire harnesses connected to the rear part of the climate control unit. Take note of the positions of the wire harnesses and have these unplugged from the control unit.
Installing the new climate control unit
Dispose of the old climate control unit and have the new one ready. Plug the wiring harnesses into the new climate control unit. Push it into the dashboard and secure its position using the bolts, ratchet, and socket sets. Place the plastic trim back into its place and push them into the dash. Give your new climate control unit a test.
Climate Control Unit Buyer’s Guide
- The climate control unit is composed of a system of temperature and humidity sensors or controllers that allows you or the car’s computer to regulate the temperature inside your cabin.
- The two main types of climate control units are the manual climate control unit and the automatic climate control unit.
- The manual climate control unit is operated using a set of knobs or dials to control the airflow, air direction, and air speed. In an automatic climate control unit, the operator just chooses their desired temperature and the car’s computer does everything else.
- Symptoms of a failing climate control unit include: inefficient or intermittent cooling or heating, unequal air distribution, unresponsive buttons or knobs, and fluctuating cabin temperature.
- OE replacement climate control units can cost anywhere from $70 to $500. The exact cost depends on the type of climate control unit you have and your vehicle’s particular make, model, and year.
Although your vehicle’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is not necessary to keep your vehicle running, it’s still crucial when it comes to keeping your ride comfortable. Having a broken HVAC system, especially during the hot summer or cold winter months, can greatly diminish your driving experience. To avoid this, it’s important to keep your HVAC system components in excellent condition. One important part of your car’s heating and cooling system is the climate control unit.
What is the Climate Control Unit?
The climate control unit is composed of a system of temperature and humidity sensors or controllers that allows you or the car’s computer to regulate the temperature inside your cabin.
There are main types of climate control units:
Manual Climate Control Unit
A manual climate control unit places full control of the vehicle’s air conditioning settings on the driver or operator. This is done through a set of knobs and dials that allow the driver to adjust the airflow coming from the air conditioner. Once the optimum temperature inside the car’s cabin is achieved, the operator has to shut off the A/C or turn the dial down to reduce the airflow then turn it back up again once the temperature gets higher.
Automatic Climate Control Unit
Automatic climate control units allow drivers to input their desired temperature then adjusts the airflow, fan speed, mode, and air direction to give you the most comfortable cabin temperature. Automatic climate control units also have a quick windshield defrosting or demisting function that you can activate using a single button.
Some automatic climate control units allow you to switch to a semi-automatic operation. THis allows you to control some aspects of your climate control unit such as the fan speed, the mode of operation, the windshield defrost function, and so on.
For both types of climate control units, there are also dual zone or three zone options that allow different sections of your vehicle to have different airflow settings. This is done using different knobs for the driver, passenger sides, the rear too for three-zone, on a manual climate control unit. On an automatic climate control unit, each section has different sensors which allow the driver, passenger, and backseat riders to input different preferred temperature settings.
Symptoms of a Failing Climate Control Unit
In general climate control units, whether manual or automatic, are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. However, regular usage of this component can lead to earlier failure. If you want to ensure that you have a comfortable ride at all times, it’s important to replace a faulty climate control unit before it falls apart completely.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of a bad climate control unit:
Inefficient heating or cooling
If your HVAC system is having a difficult time reaching your desired temperature, there might be a problem with the climate control unit such as faulty sensors or sticky dials. However, inefficient heating or cooling is a common symptom for almost any component of your HVAC system. Make sure to double check what the root cause actually is before replacing any component.
Fluctuating cabin temperature
Another common sign of a bad climate control unit is fluctuating temperature inside the cabin. If the temperature changes even if you’re not adjusting your preferred temperature, your automatic climate control system might be on the fritz. Similarly, if the airflow switches to low even if you’re not adjusting any of the knobs, you might have a bad manual climate control unit.
Unequal air distribution inside the cabin
Uneven air distribution is another sign that your climate control unit will have to be repaired or replaced sooner rather than later. If your A/C vents are working fine on the driver side but not on the passenger side or backseat, you need to check on your climate control unit.
Intermittent heating and cooling operation
Climate control unit problems can also result in your air conditioner abruptly shutting off in the middle of operation.
Buttons not working properly
Be on the lookout for malfunctioning knobs and buttons as well. If any of your climate control buttons or knobs, such as the airflow control dial, the auto button, or the air direction control, aren’t working properly, your climate control unit might be going bad.
A bad climate control unit doesn’t always need to be replaced. In some cases, a simple repair or replacement of a dial or a software update can resolve the problem. It’s always best to get a professional to diagnose the issue before buying a replacement climate control unit. Troubleshooting the climate control unit, especially an automatic one, typically requires certain tools to do, so it’s not a typical DIY job.
Choosing the Right Climate Control Unit
Is a manual or an automatic climate control unit better for you? If you’re simply replacing a damaged unit, you may want to stick to an OE replacement climate control unit. An OE replacement part matches the exact specifications of your factory climate control unit whether it’s manual or automatic.
If you’re thinking of switching to a different type, consider your temperature control preference. Manual climate control units might require more effort to control, but some people prefer it because they have very specific temperature needs. On the other hand, if you just want to set your preferred temperature then forget about it completely, switching to an automatic climate control unit might be better for you.
Cost of Replacing a Car Climate Control Unit
OE replacement climate control units can cost anywhere from $70 to $500. The exact cost depends on the type of climate control unit you have and your vehicle’s particular make, model, and year. For instance, a manual 2001 Honda Accord climate control unit will have markedly different price compared to say an automatic 2013 Chevy Malibu climate control unit.
Take note that switching your manual climate control unit to an automatic unit requires more work or professional assistance. This is because this job involves a lot of wiring work plus the installation of sensors and ducting changes, so expect to pay a higher overall price for replacement due to higher professional labor fees.
Which Between Programa and AC Delco Has the Better Climate Control Unit?
The climate control unit helps in having a luxurious ride for the driver and passengers. It monitors and maintains a preferred level of temperature to make the interiors of the vehicle comfortable to its passengers. A bad climate control unit can give a very unpleasant and frustrating drive, so it should be replaced as soon as possible. To help you in looking for the best one, we have tested Programa and AC Delco-two of the top climate control unit brands. Following are the results.
If you have gone through various online auto parts stores, you will notice the big difference between the price points of the two brands. Most units from AC Delco are priced below $100, which is already a good range for a climate control unit. The case is not the same for Programa, however, as it is quite difficult to find a climate control unit under the brand priced below $100. In this aspect, AC Delco takes the prize.
WINNER: AC Delco
With regard the appearance, Programa takes the crown at the very first glance. Its climate control unit is designed with buttons, giving it a high-end and luxurious air that fits well with any compatible make and model. AC Delco, on the other hand, has simple knob controllers that are a bit common on climate control units. In this regard, Programa and its edgy look win.
We have tested the two climate control units with our BMW M3. Both work very well without any hitch. AC Delco is specifically designed to work the same way as a stock part, and it does just that. The Programa climate control unit, on the other hand, is made under European standards that rarely disappoint. In this instance, both may be considered winners.
With the different aspects mentioned above, it all boils down to price or appearance since both offer the same level of reliable performance. If you are up to giving the interiors of your vehicle a plush look, Programa will work just fine. However, if you are working on a budget, AC Delco is the perfect choice for you.
Choosing the Right Climate Control Unit
Imagine driving down the highway when you suddenly feel a chilling breeze from your ac. You want to adjust the temperature but you find yourself in a constant battle with which fan speed will be too cold. Inconvenient isn't it? But today's climate control systems have eliminated this kind of inconvenience with the invention of the climate control unit. It has enhanced driving comfort by letting you adjust the temperature itself rather than its fan's speed. There are a lot of sophisticated climate control regulations today. But how do you differentiate one from the other? Here are the things you have to remember when shopping for a new climate control unit.
Determine the type of climate control unit you need.
There are basically 3 types of climate control units and they are differentiated by how much control you have over them. The first type, the manual climate control, allows you to manually control your vehicle's interior temperature. The two other types are the semi-automatic and fully automatic control units. These types have preset controls that will automatically adjust or level your fan speed at a set temperature. Basically, the kind of climate control unit you need depends on how convenient you want them to be. For example if you prefer to dictate-by the degree-how cold or hot it is inside your car, then you should install a manual climate control. But if you don't want to be bothered with setting your car's comfort level, then go and install either a semi-automatic or automatic unit.
Inspect the quality of the cables and hardware.
Climate control units are made up of a variety of cables that connects it to the rest of your heating and cooling system. If these cables break, then you can expect a faulty AC system and, inevitably, an uncomfortable ride. So as a word of advice, always inspect the quality of your unit's cables and other connections. Also if you're planning to purchase a remanufactured unit, it is a must to pay close attention to these cables. Most remanufactured climate controls have second hand hardware installed onto them. Make sure that they are still in good working condition and that it is properly insulated to ensure efficient connection between your climate control unit and your AC system.
Think about both your budget and needs.
There are many ways to save a few bucks on your climate control units, from buying remanufactured ones to getting an individual part against a complete assembly. But aside from the costs, you also have to think about other factors Remanufactured auto parts are definitely cheaper, but they don't have as long a life as OE manufactured parts. Although individual parts cost a whole lot less, climate control units sold with an assembly offers warranty. Always weigh your options when it comes to price and value. Make sure you purchase a climate control unit based on its long term worth rather than on its short term costs.
Installing a New Climate Control Unit to Maximize Your Riding Comfort
You've checked under your hood and you know your air conditioning system is perfectly fine. You even refilled your Freon just to make sure you've done everything right. But why isn't your air conditioning turning on? The problem is not in your AC, it's in your AC's controls or commonly known as your climate control unit. It only takes a few minutes to replace this part. So if you want to get your AC system working again, replace your climate controls with this easy installation guide.
Difficulty level: Easy
Tools you'll need:
- Socket set
- New climate control unit
- Open your vehicle's hood. Using a socket wrench, remove the negative cable from your battery's cover.
- On your dash board, locate your control module. It is found in the center of your dash, just below the radio. It should be there together with your blower controller and the air/heat mixture control. Remove the trim pieces of your climate control module by unfastening the metal retaining clips. These clips are pressed into the holes of your dash. You can remove them by pulling the clips out of the retaining holes.
- Your climate control module is secured to your dash by four bolts. Using a socket and ratchet, remove these bolts and completely remove the unit.
- Now that you've exposed the module, unplug it from the wiring harness that connects it to your car. Discard the old unit properly and prepare to install your new one.
- Take the wiring harness mentioned in Step 3 and plug it to your new climate control unit.
- Reinstall the unit into your dash by pushing it in place. Secure the climate control module with the bolts previously removed in step 3.
- Reassemble your climate control module's trim pieces by fitting them in between the gaps. Gently push them into the dash to complete your installation.