Hey guys, I finally got around to making a serious attempt to do something about this on my car. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do but I wanted to at least figure out what that actuator/servo part was all about and what it would take to replace it. Mine was driving my nuts making noise all the time while driving and then of course after I shut the car off.
I give ssbtech credit for being a genius based on his post a little while back because basically I did exactly what he said. The result: as of now I have a perfectly quiet and smooth running actuator! It's a miracle and although I cant' be sure that the issue will never return, I'm pretty stoked that I've been able to drive my car around since yesterday with no hint of that annoying clicking and it's dead silent when I shut the car off. Wouldn't be right to not thank compsurge as well since as far as I know, he's the one that initially diagnosed it and correctly identified the part (there are a couple of other threads about this issue as well).
Anyway, so I pulled out the glove box (which actually ended up not being as messy as I thought it might) and that gave me enough room (barely) to get in there and pull the actuator out. Still a pretty cramped space but I just had to use a small screwdriver to get at the 3 little screws that hold it in place (after getting the metal brace out of the way). Once the actuator was out, I saw that it could easily be taken apart. Basically its a motor and some gears that are housed in a case which can be pulled apart by undoing some tabs around the outside. I broke a couple tabs in the process cuz they were pretty brittle but I wasn't being very careful since I was just assuming I was going to have to get a new one anyway. The little cylinder motor pops right out. I just cleaned off some of the surfaces and parts and added a little grease to the gears. I didn't really have much hope for that to work, but I put it back together and reconnected the green plug and tested it out. I was amazed that it was totally silent and there was no more herky jerky movements or noises at all. After a few tests, I was ready to reinstall it. That was a bit of a pain to get it back in. The large white plastic piece on the one side of the housing that connects to the gear wheel has a couple of guides on it that need to be reconnected. This assembly controls where the air blows with the different modes by opening/closing the various vents so the air routes appropriately. Anyway, I can't say I know exactly why this worked and fixed the issue, but based on my experience I would have to recommend giving it a try. Also if the noise/issue returns, it's good to know that with a little patience and maybe a few scratched up knuckles, the part can be swapped out DIY style without too much hassle (part # 72131AG24A
). The video here is after I reinstalled the (now working) actuator. The final position is after I turn the key to off.