Special Projects 101: Part 3: New Car Makeover 2021 – Repairing Faulty Air Conditioner Switch

air conditioner switch rolling down window fuel consumption

According to this study and on the contrary, belief, rolling down your windows does save more fuel than rolling up and switching on the air conditioner. Personally, I roll up the windows not to save the fuel but to keep the cabin noise down for me to listen to the music when I am diving. Image source: Business Insider

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The Problem Started

It actually started a few months when I noticed whenever I set the car air conditioner to the lowest speed setting; it will blow at the highest speed until I put the set to medium speed. Due to this problem, I started to get higher fuel consumption as the air conditioner is always at a higher speed even though I do not require it. Sooner or later, I knew that I had to get this fixed.

It has come to a point where when I switch off the air conditioner, the air conditioner is still running until I switch off the ignition. Sometimes it will speed up or slow down on its own when I am driving. Sometimes it switches off causing only hot air to be blown which is not a good thing when it is hot outside.

It is cheaper to buy the whole air conditioner switch online with the cheapest offer going at about RM250 and the expensive one at RM400. Image source: Lazada.

Suggestion At Car Service Centre

Thinking the whole switch is faulty; I asked the mechanic who was working on my car about this when I went to service my car at the authorised service centre. Considering that the issue is getting worse on daily basis, I was even willing to pay extra for any change of parts as long as they can get it fixed on the same day.

Well, the mechanic confirmed that the faulty air conditioner switch is common with some of the models and unfortunately that included my specific model. The fix would require a change of the whole air conditioner switch set which is estimated at about RM500 and they have to special order for it.

The mechanic suggested me to continue to use with the existing faults unless it had become worst and totally unusable. I think they do not want to spend the time and effort on this – perhaps it is not worth it, profit-wise. Considering that the same parts are cleaner online, I thought of ordering the air conditioner switch cheaper online and then ask the mechanic at the service centre or the one I am familiar with to get it replaced.

Youtube DIY Fix

 

Then I saw this simple step by step DIY that addresses the very problem that I was facing. The best part of this solution is that it does not require any replacement of the parts. It however will take some effort to dismantle the centre console and prying out the air conditioner switchboard and hopefully without damaging any other parts in the car.

Trying My Own DIY

With the lockdown in place and the car basically lying idle at home, I decided to follow the same steps as what was shown in the Youtube video. I decided on this for 2 main reasons – firstly, I am obviously not going to throw RM300 – RM500 on something that can be fixed for free and secondly, I have some time to kill on the weekends, so why not spend some time, effort and sweat to get this done?

Besides, if this cannot solve the problem, then at least I can be confident enough to go and buy the air conditioner switch cheaper online.

First thing first – go through the DIY steps in Youtube several times over and over again so that I know what to do first, second, third and so on and the tools to use.

Then I gathered a number of screwdrivers since I noticed that most of the repair work requires me to unscrew a number of screws delicately. When I finally got the switchboard out (t was not easy as it also had hidden plastic fasteners), I opened the first switch and noticed a good layer of dirt on the copper circle which I cleaned using dry tissue paper.

Then I checked the copper contacts which I noticed were misaligned. These copper contacts were very thin so aligning needs to be done very softly to avoid breaking any of them. Once done, I moved on to the next switch and repeated the process.

Putting all of them back in the car was easy except for the first part installing back the switchboard into the centre console which I had to do slowly as the fasteners were not easy to place back. The final result – the problem with the switch seems been fixed and I no longer need to set the air conditioner speed to the medium.

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