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Beetle A/C blows foam & temp changes

Here in North Texas, air conditioning is serious as a heat stroke, so when my 2000 Beetle started blowing brittle pieces of foam from the A/C vents, moaning at stop lights, and refusing to cool, action was required. That was last summer, and I had the A/C “fixed” – new compressor (a dryer thingy had gone bad), a fresh charge of freon, and gloriously arctic air. There was still foam, but who cares as long as it’s cold? (I know the foam is disintegrating due to age, not rodents.) The shop told me they could fix the foam problem but that it would mean taking off the dash, could cost $900 in labor, and that not fixing it meant nothing worse than flying foam.

Now in the second summer, the air still blows cold but only sometimes, and it spits more foam than ever. When the air isn’t cold, if I twiddle all the knobs, especially the one that directs air from my face to my feet to the defrost and back, eventually the vents belch out more foam and give me cold air. This mainly works at 70+ mph. A recent development is that air blows on my toes as well as my face when I have the dial set for face-air-only. My tootsies love it, but I’m concerned that when all the foam breaks free I’ll have air coming from all vents at once, maybe hot, maybe cold.

So I have two questions: (1) When all the foam has flown out the windows, will I have reliable temperature control? (2) If the answer to 1 is no, would it be cheaper to sell my dear Sunshine to CarMax for a lesser price and let them dismantle the dash or pay the shop and keep driving her a while?

It’s possible that the foam, which is meant to seal the flaps in the HVAC system, is restricting their movement, and that’s why the air is coming out where it shouldn’t and the temperature isn’t always as low as it should be.

The only real fix would be to let them take the thing apart and replace whatever has disintegrated. Automotive HVAC work of this nature is labor-intensive and expensive, but a good shop can make the AC work like new.

A bad shop, on the other hand, can wreak havoc on a car by taking the dashboard out. You’ll want to make sure the shop is truly qualified if you decide to fix it.

Whether this is worth the money only you can decide. I spent over $1,500 last summer to repair the AC on a car older than yours, but it worked really well after the repairs.

What if I held a shop vac to the vents and tried to suck out the remaining foam? Any idea whether the A/C would still blow cold, assuming the foam could be removed this way?