It’s been almost a full decade since SAAB had succumbed to the GM’s kiss of death. Some are nostalgic about this brand. However, no amount of rose-colored glasses and nostalgia can hide some somewhat known issues SAABs had in the past. More specifically, we’re talking about the SAAB 9-5 blend door repair. Being GM era cars, SAABs 9-5 weren’t without quirks and flaws. The blend door issue is one of those quirks that can leave you freezing in the winter. Here’s all you need to know about it and how to fix it.
The Affordable Luxury of SAAB 9-5
SAAB was always considered to be a semi-luxurious brand. Although most of the enthusiasts know SAAB for their turbocharged engines, the rest of the owners and those interested in this brand probably remember their comfort.
Speaking of comfort, HVAC plays a significant part in keeping occupants of any car happy. The same applies to SAAB. SAAB 9-5 we’ll be talking about today excelled at offering advanced HVAC controls for its time. Passengers could enjoy an automatic, dual-zone climate control as standard in these models.
The HVAC system itself is among the more complex ones out there. SAAB knew full well that there isn’t a simple way to put together an HVAC of this type. However, they didn’t necessarily approach the problem with the right amount of diligence.
As a result, we’ve seen the use of subpar components that tend to fail over time. Mind you, these SAABs are now 10-20 years old, making them fairly old. Even so, the rate at which the HVAC system fails is above the industry average.
What Even Is a Blend Door Arm?
Like the one found on SAAB 9-5, a complex HVAC system relies on a bunch of ducts, actuators, and other independent components to work. The problem with this is that some of these components aren’t exactly made of titanium. On the contrary, SAAB went with somewhat fragile materials. The poor quality of plastics used to make these components causes them to fail over time.
Blend doors are one such poorly made component. A blend door is an actuator that allows the hot air to reach either the passenger side or driver side HVAC duct. Now, a broken blend door arm wouldn’t be such a big issue if SAAB was still around.
Since the company went under, spare parts are drying up. You’ll still find core spares such as engine parts or transmission parts, but tiny stuff like plastic blend doors are all but gone. In fact, this particular component went out of production a long time ago.
Fear not, though! There’s a repair kit out there that not only fixes the blend door arm issue but does so permanently. The kit, part number 101E00027, includes a blend door arm that is made of billet aluminum!
Driver Side and Passenger Side Blend Door Arms
The whole blend door arm issue is much more prevalent on the driver’s side than the passenger side.
As far as your options go without the repair kit, they are limited at best. You can head over to your dealership, but don’t be surprised if they slap you with a massive bill. It’s not unheard of for dealerships to the bill over $1000 for the repair.
Why is it so costly? Because most dealerships are limited to using genuine parts. Since there are no replacement blend door arms in the OEM or genuine offer, the next best thing is replacing the entire heater box. A new heater box can easily run the repair bill over a grand, and that’s if you’re lucky.
How to Replace the Passenger Side Blend Door Arm?
Compared to the driver side, replacing the blend door arm on the passenger side is much easier. There are several things you’ll need to do before you start with the repair. Namely, we need to run some diagnostics first.
To do this, press and hold the AUTO + OFF buttons at the same time. Doing so will initiate the diagnostics sequence. The ACC will start checking all the moving parts. Once the diagnostics process is done, you’ll get a code consisting of two numbers. You can check out all the codes here.
The ones that are relevant for our topic today are codes 08 and 11.
If you get 08, that means that the driver side blend door arm is broken. If you get code 11, that means that the passenger side blend door arm is broken. With the diagnostics complete, you’ll know exactly which side of the HVAC system requires fixing.
The process of actually replacing the passenger side blend door arm is fairly straightforward. We won’t cover all the steps, as there are plenty of DIY guides online. However, we will take you through the process in broad strokes.
You’ll need to get behind the glove box to swap out the broken shaft or blend door arm on the passenger side. This is a fairly easy thing to do as the glove box is held in place by 4 screws. You can reach these screws by removing the plastic cover at the bottom of the glove box.
One thing to keep in mind is that the glove box is connected to the HVAC and the wiring harness. Be careful when you remove the glove box as it’s easy to yank the HVAC hose out along with the box.
Once the glove box is out of the way, you can also access the cabin air filter housing. It might not be a bad idea to get yourself a new cabin air filter while you’re already in there.
Anyway, what you’re looking for is a yellow piece of plastic that may or may not be in one piece. It shouldn’t be too difficult to spot as the black heater box housing contrasts it. That being said, the plastic blend door arm could be hidden behind its plastic cover that’s often held in place by four screws.
The actual replacement process is super simple. All you have to do is remove what ever’s left of the plastic arm and replace it with the aluminum one. The arm slides right off the shaft, so there shouldn’t be any issues here.
Once you’re done replacing the arm, rerun the ACC diagnostic check. Once done, your HVAC system should be back to factory settings and working flawlessly once again!
Where to Find Quality SAAB Parts?
Here at eEuroparts.com, we appreciate the legacy left behind SAAB. Our catalog is packed with the best spare parts we could source for these cars. We offer OEM and Genuine replacements for core systems such as the engine and transmission and other vehicle parts.
To find a complete list of products that match your car, simply head over to our store and input your car’s details into our navigation tool. Once our system crunches the data, you’ll be presented with a list of parts that fit your vehicle.
In case you have any further questions regarding our selection of SAAB parts, please ask us. You can get in touch with us via email or by calling our customer support center. We’re standing by to answer all of your questions!