My Scion Xa is full of hot air!

The ventilation system in my Scion Xa can’t pull in fresh air. When the ventilation circulation lever is switched to “Fresh”, the air is stale and always hot. I have to run the A/C almost year round. It needs to be colder than 40 degrees outside in order to turn off the A/C if I want to set the ventilation on “Fresh” (oxymoron that it is!). Even if it’s cool outside and I roll down the windows, the air coming in through the vents is so hot I still have to turn on the A/C.

I think you’re having a “fresh air/recirculate” problem. You don’t mention what year your Xa is, so I can’t tell if it’s still under warranty, but if it is, I suggest you take it to a Toyota/Scion dealer.

The problem could also be the “temperature control” flap (door, whatever).

Either way, I think you should consult a Toyota/Scion dealer.

Thanks for your helpful suggestion. I did take it to the dealer. Two different ones. One told me to run the A/C year round, and the other told me to roll down my windows. It’s a 2006. I’ll do some snooping around about the temperature control flap. Thanks!!

Both of the dealer responses are BOGUS. There’s no reason to run the AC year-round, and rolling down the windows is a 1960’s solution.

Go back to wherever you purchased this car and DEMAND they do something to solve this problem.

I was going to ask where you live, but your OP states that, “It needs to be 40 degrees outside . . .”

That eliminates a lot of places. If you get 40 or less you don’t need AC all year.

I repeat, go back to wherever you bought the vehicle and DEMAND they do something. You should not have to suffer through this with the AC on all the time. Having the AC on all the time is hurting your fuel mileage, as I’m sure you already know.

I’m wondering if this isn’t something as simple as a ventilation control system cable that’s not connected. The difference between “Fresh Air” and “Recycled Air” is the movement of a cable, rod, or flap, in the ventilation system. If the necessary component does not move, there is no change in the air intake.

Now I’m starting to wonder if the temperature control is defective. This could be more than just an indoor/outdoor problem.

Thank you for your reply. I live in Phoenix AZ. I’m totally stonewalled at the dealer. Very patronizing – the service person wouldn’t even slide the Fresh/Recirc lever back and forth to see what I was talking about. I made him sit in the car in the shade on a cool day and let the car heat up while I talked. Even that didn’t work. I’m pretty sure I need to find someone (read that “male persona”) to go in with me. I’m also hoping if I can find a reliable mechanic or someone who can load me up with info, I can make some progress.

I’m surprised at how demoralizing a bizarre problem like this can be. Thanks again.

Pheonix is a tough environment for cars, but that’s not the point. If the dealer service person would not even move the dash lever, that’s pretty sad, and you should be upset, regardless of your gender.

I don’t think you need a person of the male persuasion, I think you need a person of the lawyer persuasion.

You’re going to have to read the warranty (I know) carefully and figure out whether or not the car is still under warranty. If it is, you have to continue to bug the dealer until they fix it.

The problem might be the temperature control flap, rather than the fresh air/recirculate flap. These things are all flaps in the HVAC system, and they move, or they should, depending on how you set the ventilation and temperature controls. When they don’t move, for some reason or other, the air coming into the car does not go where you want it to go, and the wrong temperature, or the wrong humidity, is the result.

Whether it’s the temperature flap or the fresh air/recirculate flap, or both, there is a fix for this problem, but first someone at the dealership has to acknowledge that there is a problem.

Your job is to make them acknowledge the problem. It probably won’t be easy, but keep at it until they fix it. I wish I could offer more encouraging advice, but I can’t.

I’m a bit puzzled by your dealer’s response. They get paid by Toyota for warranty work. What’s their problem?

I guess it comes down to this: Is your Xa still under warranty, or not? Only you can tell.

My car is most definitely under warranty; it has 20,007 miles on it.

I have a creepy feeling even the salesman knew this problem existed with the car. I drove it (in the winter here, so on a cool day) and concluded that the angle of the windshield made the car hot. So I stopped test driving Scions (can’t have an innately hot car in Phx!). I wanted a hatchback with good mpg (had a 6-yr old Civic coupe at the time), so test drove cars for several more weeks. Drove an Xa at a different dealer. The car wasn’t strangely hot, but the trade in deal wasn’t good. So I went back to the original dealership and drove a different car than the original “hot” one. I talked myself into believing that the first test drive was my imagination. Nonetheless, I EXPLICITLY told the salesperson I wanted the car I drove the SECOND time (the second one also had Bridgestone tires, which I like).

He disappeared for the obligatory amount of time, popped out and said, “Sorry it’s taking me so long. We still had a record of your test drive of the first car; I couldn’t figure out how to get it out of the computer, so I’m selling you the first car.”

TILT!! I told him, “No Deal”, and told him why. So we melodramatically drove BOTH cars AGAIN. I discovered during this drama that the brakes on the second car were really, really soft, and I couldn’t differentiate the air problem this time (I was focused on the A/C). So…I talked myself into getting the first car. But the whole episode was SO wierd, I just think the dealership knew about the problem and were using bait-and-switch to railroad me into taking the dud car.

Can/do dealerships have a way of “flagging” cars like this? The service tech was SUCH a jerk – he seemed SO WELL prepared, and I hadn’t even really told him much yet. They usually at least try to dazzle you with how hard they worked to diagnose the problem The Rod Serling treatment continued when I called “Scion Care” to complain. He gave me a long winded defense about my car before I told him anything (he did have my VIN number before the phone call). He EMPHATICALLY told me to roll my windows down. It was bizarre.

I don’t understand them not standing by their product, either. But, I owned a Toyota almost 20 years ago, and things were very similar then, too. The car is exactly what I wanted (I hunted for almost a year), but I really need to get this fixed. The air that comes in when the lever is flipped to “Fresh” is stale in a horrible way (in addition to being hot). It almost feels like it’s pulling air out of your mouth or something (like when you drive past a landfill or live stock truck, except there’s no smell, just stale suffocating air). Wherever that air is coming from, it’s a strange place.

You’ve been great. I really appreciate your input. Thanks so much.

Hmmm. I would post this question to one of the Scion groups, such as They take Scions apart all the time for mods etc., and may have some knowledge of this problem. Also, for future reference, check out their tech section at for a variety of how-to’s on your car.

Hope this helps.

Did you talk to a service advisor or the service manager? Your next step should be to talk to the service manager if you have not done so already. Then talk to the service manager’s boss if you get nowhere, and eventually to the owner. This business does not need some lazy clown on the service lane alienating customers. If you still get nowhere, contact Toyota/Scion directly and discuss the matter with them. Be prepared to tell them when the car was evaluated and by what dealer. Provide as many details as possible. They will address the issue with the dealer. Make sure you have written documentation from each visit that you were there and what the reccomendation was. Scion also does not need someone bent on selling Fords and Chevys “working” for them.

Absolutely. I had forgotten the Scion is still under warranty. As jtsanders said, talk to the service manager for your area first. You really need to escalate the matter with Toyota.

Drive with a thermometer in the vent so they can see its putting out air hotter than ambient.

The service manager told me to run my A/C year round. He told me, “This is one of the toughest little engines Toyota has ever made. Lot’s of people run their A/C year round. This little engine is built for it.” I called the 800 number for Scion customer service. He told me to roll my windows down. I asked him how he could say that so confidently when he hadn’t seen my car. He said hot air was normal. I asked him how he could know that. He said the service tech wrote it in his report. I told him the service tech wouldn’t even slide the lever back and forth. He agreed to call ANOTHER dealer to make arrangements for me to take it in, but warned me this is “normal” and my last step is arbitration.

Elcuc0 mentions a “service manager for my area”. I don’t think I’m sure I know who that would be or how to identify them. Is it a regional contact person? Can you tell me how to find them?

Also, I still think I need to take someone in with me to double team these discussions.

Thanks so much for your help!!

then start putting your complaint specfic and in writing. Start sending letters to the dealership owner and to the district manager. Take the car in this summer and see if you can take the owner on a test drive for a half hour to an hour. Make sure it is long enough to get him uncomfortable using only the AC setting as you should for summer. Have a thermometer there to show readings as needed. Demand results and that the problem be fixed. Point out that their recommended “work arounds” are deficient. If necessary contact the Arizona Attorney General Consumer Affairs Division and see if they can help arbitrate the complaint.

If your thermometer shows that the air is deficient in coolness, state that in all your letters and demand that the system be fixed. Depending on the state, this may fall under the lemon law if you purchased new.

Thank you so much. This web site is very helpful.