A/c and heater only work on highest setting

the day after our first real snow (about 3in) i turned on my 2000 Olds Alero, began removing snow from the vehicle and smelled something burning. when i got into the car i the smell was very strong and coming from my dashboard vents. now the first 4 settings on my a/c- heater produce no air except on the highest setting, the one with the fan icon

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Most likely, the blower motor resistor pack is shot.

The resistor block is shot. The resistors are by the blower motor inside the ductwork (for cooling) and when it fried the smoke came through the ducts. It’s bypassed on the “high” position, so when it fries the fan still operates on high.

The blower resistor needs to be replaced. It is located in the Heater/AC ductwork, near the blower motor (fan). You should be able to get one at any parts store.

is it unsafe to drive in this condition? what could i expect from the shop as far as repairs?

i a m truly an idiot, what tools would i need, where could i get install info-in addition to what would be on the parts box?

No it is not unsafe. You can continue using it and likely it will continue to work.

Click on this for a picture of the beastie: http://www.autozone.com/R,APP1086719/vehicleId,2580202/initialAction,partProductDetail/store,1140/partType,01160/shopping/partProductDetail.htm You are not truly an idiot. You are just information challenged. The information you need is in a Haynes, or Chilton’s, repair manual.

thank you, and on multiple fronts. i am going to give it a try