Saturday, August 18, 2012

How to Fix Loud Clicking Coming from the Center Console in Jeep Grand Cherokee

My 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee started making a loud clicking noise for about 10 seconds, shortly after starting the Jeep. Here's another guy on YouTube that is complaining about this noise.

I was pretty discouraged after calling the local parts shops and Googling around, but I decided to tear into the dash anyway.  They were telling me that parts weren't available, and it was probably related to a vacuum leak or some other engine-vacuum related problem.

The good news is that I was able to get the part from the dealership for a mere $33, and really it didn't take but a few hours to tear apart.

Here's the bad news...  It does take quite a bit of time to tear into, and it's not for the faint of heart.  You'll need a variety of tools including right-angle Phillips drivers, a Torx driver, and quite possibly a drill with bits.  That being said, there are several motors that can cause this problem, some of them being easier to access than others, and you may or may not get as lucky as I did.

Here is the inside of me Jeep at the height of the encounter.

Begin by removing the covers around the center console.  These all just snap in place, and there are no tools required.

From there you will see a maze of wires, and ducts that control the air flow to the various vents, and that blend the hot and cold air together.  Note, I just have a single, manual temperature control and none of the more advanced features such as being able to set a specific temperature, rear seat controls, etc.

By watching the inner workings while it is making noise, you should be able to identify which valve actuator is making the noise.  Here's a couple of tips:

  • The motor (actuator) is the piece that is making the noise.  See the photo below.
  • On the opposite side of the motor on the air duct, you can usually see the shaft that attaches to the motor.  By watching which ones are moving, it will help you identify the culprit.
  • If you put your finger on the motor, you should be able to feel the vibrations from the clicking.  Again, this is to verify that you're replacing the correct motor.
  • You may need to pull the gear shift back in order to see inside of the console.  The Jeep will start in the Neutral gear position, but BE SURE TO ENGAGE YOUR EMERGENCY BREAK, AND USE COMMON SENSE.

This is a photo of an actuator.  This is what you're looking for.  There are two wires coming off of the bottom, and mine bolted to the duct with two Torx screws.

I'm considering myself fairly lucky, in that my actuator was front and center.  There was a wide, flat duct that carried the air to the rear vents, and the actuator was just right of the center console.  The bad news was that I had to peal back my entire lower dash to access the motor.

Taking the dash off involves pulling the end cap on the far right side of the dash, next to where the  door butts up against the dash.  There is one screw near the front that holds the dash in place.

Then pull the bottom kick plate with the two screws under the glove box.

Remove the glove box by disconnecting the dampener arm at the right.  Open the glove box fully downward and pull up on the hinges to pop it loose.

At this point, lay on your back in the passenger side floor board and look up.  There are about a half-dozen screws that attaches the plastic dash to the underlying frame.  Remove every screw from the dash that you can find.

Next you will need a right-angle phillips screw driver.  It must be shorter than about 1 inch, and if you have a ratcheting one, that would be a big help here.

There are four screws that connect the bottom part of the plastic dash to the top half.  Reaching up through the glove box area, remove the four screws to release the dash.  Also, disconnect the glove box light while you're under there to prevent ripping the wires out.

Once all of the screws are out, the right half of the lower dash board should peal away from the metal frame.  Around the center console, there are some plastic pegs and a couple more screws that need to be tweaked to gain access to the center console's inner workings.

There was a small piece of duct-work that provided the floor vent on the passenger side that had to come out.  There was one screw that (of course) was partially obstructed, but I was able to maneuver the screw driver close enough to take it out.

As I said before, I counted myself lucky that my actuator in question was easy to get to.  However, I did not have a right-angled Torx screw driver that was small enough to unbolt the actuator.  What I did was drill a hole (actually two because I was too far off with the first - oops!) to slip a screw-driver through to unbolt the actuator from the actual duct valve.

Once you remove the two screws,  the actuator motor will slip right out, and you can disconnect the wires.

Take the old actuator to the local Jeep dealership and compare, because there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding this part.  Like I eluded to early on, when I first started calling around town, several stores consistently told me that this whole system was vacuum driven off of the engine.  Granted, I didn't tear in deeper than I absolutely had to, but I saw NO signs of any vacuum systems in here.

Once the new part is in hand, bolt it back into place, and thoroughly test all the settings of the climate control system.

Once you are satisfied that the operation was a success, re-assembly is the reverse of the dis-assembly.

From what I can tell, this exercise saved me 2-4 hours of shop labor, plus the mark-up on the parts.  You can do the math with your own shop rates. 

I was also talking with someone locally who was having the same symptoms, but with a different motor.  He apparently went in through the drivers side under the steering column, and was able to replace the part without pulling the dash.  There appear to be at least 3-4 motors in even the simplest of environmental systems, and I suspect that any of them are equally likely to be the culprit.

Good luck!


Tarek Dahawy said...

Hi Zack, unfortunately i am having the same issue with my 2005 Grand Cherokee, i thought it's an easy fix at the beginning, but after reading your post, i am really afraid to try it myself as i may not able to return/re-assembly everything back :D.

In addition, i know that there are 4 actuators in this car, i am hearing the noise in the center of the dashboard and sometime from the passenger side!! .. i called our Jeep Agency (UAE/Dubai) and they told me that 1 actuator costs 175 AED (approx. $48), and they clarified that there is one actuator in the left side (as your picture), 2 in the center of the dashboard, and 1 at the back of the dashboard... i am really confused & wondering which one is not working or causing this issue.

Also the clicking sound sometimes happens and sometimes not!!

btw, do have any idea if the 4 actuators are doing the same job or each one is doing a different job?

Thanks a lot for the useful post and i'll keep you posted if i got the guts to do it :D


Zack said...

I think there are four, but they're doing different things. One mixes the hot and cold air, one adjusts the vents in the front, one adjusts the vents in the back, and I don't remember what the other does.

As for figuring out which one is broken, you just have to open up the dash and start watching and listening. If you look at the duct opposite of the motor, you can see a white shaft that turns. Watching that shaft while the noise is happening will give you some clues as to which on it is.

Good luck.

Chad Collins said...

You helped me solve my problem. I've been living with this clicking noise for about two years now. The dealership told me it would cost about $1000 to fix because they have to remove the entire dashboard. Well few days ago my heater core started leaking. I found a youtube video of a guy showing a short cut to replacing the heater core without removing the entire dash. Since I was replacing the heater core, I thought I might as well figure out what the clicking noise was. That's when I came across your blog. I replaced the actuator following your steps. Thanks for the info.

Adam Fathi said...

i have the same problem. do you have any part numbers for these parts because i can't find them online anywhere. i don't have a dealer in my town. nearest one is over an hour away so i am trying to order online and save a trip if possible.

Zack said...

There are several different actuators under the dash, and you'll need to tear into it to figure out which one to order. Unfortunately, I don't have any numbers off of it, and I bought mine from the local dealer. There might be a number on the unit once you get it pulled though.

Fizzybaca said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! How awesome that you shared your knowledge with us all and saved us $$. So grateful. I knew we couldn't afford to have this repaired right now so I researched & found your blog. I showed it to my husband, actuator found & removed. Blessings, may you be rewarded tenfold.

Imad Fares said...

I have the same problem recently,

Any idea of the part number cause my dealer only knows part numbers.


sean harmon said...

Man, thank god for Zack. Mine is clicking on the passenger side. Driving me nut. Going to attempt this. Thx Zack.

D. Anthony said...

Hi, My actuator sounds like it's coming from the Drivers side. How do i get access to that one? I've heard it's some sort of a panel and something to release the dash?


lmddees said...

I'm going to try this too. I replaced my blower motor and resistor BC air wasn't blowing and only on high. Freon has been drained/replaced but no cold air. Clicking noise continues from AC controller area. Any tips floor cold air is greatly appreciated bc it's hot here.

lmddees said...

I'm going to try this too. I replaced my blower motor and resistor BC air wasn't blowing and only on high. Freon has been drained/replaced but no cold air. Clicking noise continues from AC controller area. Any tips floor cold air is greatly appreciated bc it's hot here. I have a 2005 jeep Cherokee.

octoscott said...

Hello, it sounds like this is my problem after all. Question, is it the same part regardless of which actuator is broken? Are they identical? I want to have the part on hand before tearing apart the dash so I can replace it same day and if they're all different that might not be possible.

Thank you!

Esther Oakley said...

I think I have been dealing with this same issue recently. The sound was really vague and I couldn't tell if it was coming from under the hood or the center console. I plan on taking it to my uncle, he was always a (Mr. Gee) whiz at fixing cars.

lucian gulerez said...

it looks like my wife has the same issue with her 2011 Compass. At first, we panicked - but after checking if anything else was going wrong (engine running, signals, instruments, radio, lights, you name it) - we got a little relief.
The sound is at RH side of the driver and is erratic. Mostly, after unlocking the vehicle and opening any door, for 3-5 sec; then, while driving any now and then, for same 3-5 sec.
As I have itchy fingers, with the excuse of cleaning her car, I removed battery negative wire and removed complete fuse block unit. Dismantled and sprayed w/contact cleaner, re-fit. Same noise at re-connecting battery.
Removed dashboard panel beneath steering wheel until i got the culprit - same actuator driver, with a white plastic actuator arm - by holding my fingers (the ones that didn't get burned first on the heating radiator coils) on the arm I could feel it vibrating when the noise came up.
Went to Jeep repair shop for some hints (thinking the motor was getting erratic power from the control electronics) and been advised to bring the vehicle in.
The question is: did anyone dismantled the actuator box to find out where from the vibration was coming?
I will definitely remove the item and go to jeep for a new one - but hopefully fix it myself.
Thank you all.
Lucian G.

Raj Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Ok my car is making the same sounds only difference is it gets louder while driving

Uzma Mir said...

Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style.

Unknown said...

I had the same problem after taking it all apart spending hrs disassembling half the jeep discovered that the white shafts that actuator connected too had slid towards driver side since all are the same actuator I switched 2 it actually worked no clicking noise

Leon Gariepy said...

From what i can gather on the diagram of the a/c system all 4 are actually the same part number(05143192AA). The OEM part on ebay goes for $36.

Katie McDonough said...

Hey Zack,
This write up was awesome! I had this problem on my daughters gc and have it fixed within a couple hours after changing the easy one on the left side it did not fix clicking. I pulled up this writeup, dug in to the right side and seriously could not have done it without the amazing job you did detailing this repair. Thank you so much for helping me get this done! I really appreciate you and others that spend the time to help others and save hour and dollars to do it ourself. Thanks Again!

Unknown said...

your the man..i just bought this car and I was worried I can rest easy...i will show this article to my car guys and give it a go