Fixing Ford Focus heating

In the spirit of dumping absolutely any old knowledge I acquire onto this blog, here are steps to fixing a common fault in 2008 Ford Focus’s where the hot air suddenly doesn’t work.

Cause

(There could obviously be a dozen causes for your hot air not working, and I spent a while Googling and finding suggestions about all sorts of diagnostics. Obviously feel free to exhaust all possibilities but for me, the cause of the issue was the one below.)

In the Focus, the hot/cold air dial is attached to a cable in the back. Turning the dial either pulls or pushes the cable down some housing to (I assume) divert hot or cold air into the system. Kind of like a bike’s brake cable – the cable moves freely within its housing.

This issue occurs when the cable gets a kink in it and instead of pushing down the housing, bends and stays where it is, effectively keeping the air on “cold”. In my case, I had obviously cranked the dial to such a degree that the cable connector actually popped off the back of the dial.

Steps to fix

1. Pop the dashboard fascia off

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This video was helpful for me – I didn’t have a “bojo” tool but I used a plastic picnic knife which worked great.

2. Pull the radio out
Pull the radio out – you don’t need to unplug anything, just let it hang carefully from the bundle of cables – they’re tough enough. Note – I disconnected my radio cable since it was a bit shorter, so make sure to reconnect it when you reassemble everything later.

3. Take a gander at this cable

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The silver cable with the floating disconnected white hoop at the end is the problem. When the dial is turned clockwise, the cable pushes left, when the dial is turned anti-clockwise, the cable is pulled further out. It’s totally disconnected, which accounts for why the dial does nothing. And you can see there was a big kink in it too, which probably caused everything by not allowing the cable to feed into the housing, causing it to pop off the dial.

4. Straighten that cable up
It’s actually quite malleable so straighten the kink out of the cable with your hands.

5. Pop the cable back on

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Simply push the connector back onto the corresponding clip on the back of the dial

6. Test the dial

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Turn the dial back and forth to make sure it’s moving in and out of the housing ok.

7. Reassemble everything
Stick it all back together and enjoy your hot air.

And appreciate the immense satisfaction that comes with fixing a minor issue in your own vehicle!

Cheers,
Seb