In the process of developing this repair and repair articles I have encountered a fair amount of grief from fellow professional technicians. Originally I posted an abbreviated version on a network that I belong to in hopes of providing a valuable procedure for both my fellow mechanics and their customers. I realize that it is a slightly less than perfect procedure in that one screw was intentionally left out during reassembly. My assumption was that a professional mechanic would understand that the benefits of not having to remove the steering column, dash assembly, hvac case assembly and all of the related parts far outweigh any repercussions of leaving that one screw out. Also that it is a professional alternative to the more invasive manufacturer’s instructions as long as all parties are informed and agree on the procedure.
I also realize that the use of a sponge as a spring/wedge could be interpreted as a bit “hacky”. In my original posting to the professional network I included both topics but probably under explained the research and events that lead me to the use of both tactics. I assumed that the readers would question the screw being left out and I was fully prepared to answer those questions as I have here. The comments about the use of the sponge however were completely unexpected. There were a couple that expressed curiosity. One that stated that it was “a little hacky bro” . Then there was a full out attack on my professionalism as a mechanic and shop owner, my integrity as a human being and aspersions that I might somehow be mentally or physically challenged to the point that I was unable to complete the repair as outlined by the manufacturer.
I found it strange that I went out of my way to investigate an alternative method of replacing a faulty actuator that would normally take about seven hours to replace (possibly five+- depending on how many you have done) and was attacked as a hack for doing so. All without even questioning how much effort and time I put into making sure there would be no repercussions for doing so. We are talking about one of four screws that were used to attach a plastic duct weighing one pound that is ultimately being supported by the vehicle floor board. The stranger thing to me was that no one questioned if there was any way to build a special tool for removing and re installing the screw in question. By the way there is an opportunity to build such a tool if anyone is interested.
Just to clarify a few points:
Although the floor duct could be repaired after it was removed and then re installed I recommend installing a new floor duct as it is quite inexpensive.
Some readers may question the use of a common household sponge …
… for added support of the floor duct. Remember that I had used the sponge previously to check for possible looseness and air leaks and that I only re installed it after the customer had requested it. Even if he had not requested it I do not find it a bad idea to go ahead and use one anyways as it will cause no harm. Also it is very common for foam to be used in manufacturing design to overcome noise and vibration issues.
In the weeks since this repair I have had a chance to collect some additional information to support my method of leaving the one attaching screw out and using the sponge as added support.In the next few pictures are the floor duct, actuator and lower hvac case out of a 1997 Ford F150. Many of you are familiar with this set up you already know that Ford only used two screws to hold that duct in place. I know of no issues involving noises or air leaks in the roughly twenty years since that design.
I was working on this 2006 Nissan Sentra recently and came across this interesting setup. It would seem that the designer has an issue with noise and used of all things a piece of foam for support and or a noise dampener.
Yes, my foam was a common household sponge and not a more closed cell design as Nissan used in this vehicle. However it was more than effective for it’s intended purpose. Just to satisfy the naysayers I might just invest in keeping some more rigid closed cell industrial foam around.