January 22

2005 Toyota 4Runner, Heater Box Repair



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, in Vancouver. Bernie how long have you been repairing cars for now?

Bernie: 38 years.

Mark: 38 years of working on pretty much all makes and models and even years of cars, is that right?

Bernie: I have been, yup.

Mark: And Pawlik has now been voted best auto repair in Vancouver 18 times. Is that right?

Bernie: That's correct. That is correct.

Mark: That's pretty impressive. So, we're gonna talk about a 2005 Toyota Forerunner, and you had a heater box repair to do on this vehicle. What was going on with this Forerunner?

Bernie: Well, the owner of this vehicle bought the vehicle recently, and one of the issues with the vehicle was that there was no heat on the driver's side of the vehicle. There was heat on the passenger side, but not on the driver's side. The heating and air conditioning worked fine, but only cold air, basically, on the driver's side of the vehicle.

Mark: So what sort of diagnosis did you have to do to find the problem?

Bernie: Well, the first area that we looked on the vehicle was, of course, being that there's heat on one side and not on the other, a lot of vehicles have the dual zone heating system, this one didn't. A lot of them had a dual zone heating system, so question is, is there a problem with one of them?

There's probably a flap that moves up and down inside the heater box to control what comes from the heater core, what comes from the air conditioning evaporator core. That gives you temperature control. Obviously, this is the area we poked our head under the dash, looked to see, are there motors? Are there actuators, and of course, if you've even looked under the dash of a modern vehicle, there's an awful lot tucked in there and not a lot to see. Those are the visual inspection for the ducts, but for what we can determine the heater box had to be removed to determine the cause. The problem was inside the heater box, nothing external that we could see.

Mark: So with all that stuff in the dash, that sounds like a pretty involved job.

Bernie: It's a crazy job. It's a day and a bit worth of work to take everything apart. Why don't I just share some photos, because that's probably the easiest thing to do. Here’s our Forerunner here. Nice vehicle, nice sporty tires, good off road, this is a V8 too, so it's got lots of power. Nice driving vehicle. Get into some of our other photos here. Here's the dash actually partially removed. This, with the dash pad off, and you can see the console's off, the dash pad's off. Some of the heating ducts are located up here.

There's big crash pad along here. We still have the steering column on at this point. Moving on to ... I'm just going to select a few different pictures here. This is the dash completely removed, with the heating box out. So you can see there's a lot of wires ... We have a few of our tools on here too, but there's a lot of wiring connectors off. Steering column's out. There's a lot involved in removing this. 

What else can I share here, photo-wise? We've got, share a few of these without getting into the actual repair. Well, actually we can talk about the repair, so what we found. We took the heater box off. This is the heater box here, located on the bench. The heater core, these are the pipes to the heater core here, and the heater core is located, actually, down in this area here. The air conditioning area section is over here. I've got another view of that. You can see, this is a flap, this is an air door that controls air to the, I think this will be to the heating vents or possibly for the defroster. I'm not sure which of the two. The actual issue or concern was actually inside this heating box, further down. I'll go into the next photo, which is another view of the heating box. There's the air conditioner evaporator core. This is what causes cool air in the system. Down here is where the fan is, so it blows the air ... these pipes here are for the air conditioning system, and these are the heating pipes. You can see there's a lot of parts and pieces that go into this service. 

Okay. There's our heater box, another view of the heater box. I'm getting right down to it. This is a look into the heater box. I should've taken a picture with it apart, but basically there is a flap here and a flap there. This is for the passenger heat, and this is for the driver. So, what we found is an actuator motor on this side of the heater box, not one here. This vehicle could be equipped with dual zone climate control, but it's not. There's a connecting rod that connects these two, broken between these to pieces. What happened is, you could get temperature control on the passenger side, but it wouldn't translate to the driver's side. This flap has stayed shut down, blowing cold air all the time. So, to repair this involved one of two things. You could buy a brand new heater box from Toyota, which is over $2,000 and not even available, or acquire a used one, which we couldn't find anywhere. Of course, at the risk this part might break again, or repair it. We actually opted to repair it. We did some custom work where we actually cut a part of the heater box apart. But this isn't really have to be dual, so we were actually able to cut some pieces apart and then join the two flaps together, so that when the passenger side moved, the driver's did too. We did it in such a way that it's never gonna fall apart, so a good, thorough repair. We don't have any more photos we need to share here. Here's a couple more with some to the dash panels and the pieces are, the framework out and I think that's only enough photos to chew off for today.

Mark: A huge job and I imagine that wasn’t inexpensive.

Bernie: Yeah, it was, but I'll say that we repaired it and saved the customer an awful lot of money by doing that repair. As I said, the actual heater box was over $2,000 in Canada, from Toyota, and the part wasn't available in North America anyway, so it would've taken a few weeks to get it from Japan. So for a fraction of that price, we were able to take the heater box apart. Spend a little more labor, but actually repair it properly and that's all our concern.

Mark: So is this a common concern?

Bernie: No, but we come across new and interesting things all the time on cars. This is one of them. This is the first time we fixed something like this on a Toyota, though. From some of our research, we're not the first people who have run into this particular problem. It has happened on other Toyota trucks and Forerunners. But as far as cars in general, we do run into problems with heater boxes. A lot of times there are actuator heater motors and, you know, modern, I'd say in the last 15, 20 years of cars, that they use actuator motors in these door flaps. So the actuator motors will die, or sometimes the actual flaps will break, so we fixed them on a variety of different vehicles, but this is the first issue like this on a Forerunner we’ve seen.

Mark: So there you go. If you are looking for auto repair of your Toyota vehicles in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Motors. Bernie, do you want to sign offI’m really echoie today.

Bernie: Sure. Yeah. Thank you for watching us and give us a call. As Mark often says, we're busy, book ahead and give us a call. Thank you.

Mark: Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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