Heating - Air Conditioner problem: Blend door?

I’ve had a problem with my 2003 Taurus’ heater and air conditioner controls for some months now. I do not have climate control - I have the ?3 knob? system: #1-fan, #2-temp control and #3-heater/air conditioner settings. My #1 knob works fine on all settings. All of the settings on #3 work ? the defroster, upper and lower and floor vents are good. My problem is that the #2 knob is stuck in the ?high heat? setting.

In the fall, when I still needed the air conditioner occasionally, I noticed sometimes that when I switched #3 to either of the ?air conditioner? settings from any ?heater? setting I would still get hot air. If I flipped the #3 knob back and forth a couple of times, I?d hear a ?clunk? somewhere in the dashboard area, and then cool air would come out. However, in October, on a 6 hour trip on a 75 degree day, it got stuck on ?high heat? again and took 2 hours to finally let go so we could cool down. Needless to say my husband was sweating bullets and the first 2 hours of the trip were not pretty. I live in upstate New York and thankfully, a few weeks later it got stuck on ?heat? again.

I took the car to my dealer the other day, and they said the problem is my ?blend door?. They quoted me $650 ? mostly labor because they have to remove the steering wheel and dashboard etc. I realized when talking to the ?asst. manager in charge of my case? that the actual ?guy in charge of fixing my heater problem? had never really looked at the car: the two of them had only talked about it.

I thought $650 sounded extreme, so told ?manager guy? to not do the repair and called around to some shops that specialize in heater and air conditioning work. Most said they?d do a diagnostic etc. etc. etc. but that $650 was probably high. However, out of all my calls, only one shop asked if I had climate control. He told me that because I didn?t, the ?blend door? was actually controlled by a cable that can sometimes be fixed without tearing the dash out.

Is this true and who do I believe?

I do not know for sure specifically on the 2003 Taurus, but I do know that most (all?) Ford cars since the 2000’s or so now use an electric blend air door. This applies to both those with electronic climate control and those with manual climate control (like yours). A few of their cars (mostly the ones with dual climate control) use water control valves instead of a blend air door. I am pretty sure yours has the blend air door, and it is electric. There is a known problem with a part breaking on some of Ford’s electric blend air doors that produces the symptoms that you describe. I have seen (but don’t recall where) a quick-and-dirty fix that is supposed to work and does not require the labor to take apart the dash. Also, from this same source, I recall that the dealer charge was going to be $600 or more.

The blend door problem was supposed to have been solved by 03. I’m not sure I would believe any of them, $650 sounds like a real low number for a blend door repair.