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AC Stopped Working, Sort Of, in 2003 Ford Focus

My question is about the AC in my 2003 Ford Focus hatchback. On settings 1-3, the green AC light will come on, but no air comes out of any of the vents. On these settings, no air comes out at all whether or not the AC button is pressed. Air will come out of the vents on setting 4, but this causes the AC light to go out. I don’t think it’s a problem with the actual cooling, because if I leave the AC on in settings 1-3, and then turn the setting up to 4, for a brief time cold air will blow out of the vents before it turns into fan air. It’s as if the cold air has been building up and gets released on setting 4. However, after doing this I think I could detect a slight burning smell. Is it possible there is a clog somewhere? (forgive my ignorance of how the system works.) Thank you for any thoughts!

A fan that runs only on the highest speed usually indicates a burned out fan resistor. This is a little thing that sort of filters out power to provide the lower speeds. Sometimes resistors just burn out because their job is to get hot (they basically “filter” the power largely by getting hot), but sometimes it is because of a bad blower motor that is drawing too many amps.

On the other hand, having the AC indicator light go out suggests the possibility of a control panel/switch problem. Or it could mean that you have two different problems (one with the blower fan and the other with the AC system itself).

Anyway, I think that you just need a pro to look it over. Your best bet will be a locally owned, independent shop. Some of these will have people that specialize in HVAC issues. I’d find one of those.

Thank you!! In the meantime, do you think it’s safe to drive as long as I don’t run the fan?

Its safe to drive even if you do run the fan - I guess you did mention the possibility of a little bit of burned smell. If you determine that you regularly get that while running the fan then I would leave the fan off until it is looked at.

BTW - I assume that that fan only runs on #4 even if the AC is turned off.

Yes, it only runs on #4 no matter what. And the AC doesn’t work on # 4. Thanks for your awesome advice!!