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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I've lurked this forum for many years, so it's time to give something back.

Like many Focus owners, I have had the unpleasant surprise of finding that my vent selector has stopped... selecting. Anyone that's had this experience knows that the culprit is that poorly designed plastic actuator unit under the dashboard, by the gas pedal. And they cost 30-70$ to replace. I am here to tell you that you can fix it and save the 70$ to spend on pennywhistles and moonpies instead.

Depending on what exactly is broken in the control unit, it might be possible to fix it. You'll need to remove the old busted one. Look at the edge and you'll see a seam where the plastic housing can be separated. VERY CAREFULLY open the housing up by prying the 2 faces apart. Inside you'll find 2 wires that wrap around a wheel. The ends of the cables terminate with a small retainer that slips into a detent in the wheel to hold it in place. (I wish I had pictures, but I didn't originally plan to write this and I'm sure not tearing it back apart).

At this point you need to determine if the unit is actually broken, or if the retainer has simply slipped out of the detent. If you are lucky, and nothing is broken, you can carefully reseat the cable ends in the proper detents and reassemble the wheel mechanism.

Now the hard part. The mating surfaces of the control unit housing need to be glued back together. But it's made of plastic and plastic doesn't like being glued. You need to go shopping. Get some acetone, some MEK (methyl ethyl ketone, should be by the acetone) and some PVC cement (plumbing section, get the strongest stuff). You can tell the cashier you're restocking "the lab" (hahaha, maybe not).

Clean the mating faces of the control unit with the MEK, then apply the acetone. Do not wipe or rinse it off. Let it sit for about a minute and then brush on the PVC cement, making sure it doesn't get anywhere it shouldn't, and don't slather it on, you don't want it to ooze out. Immediately snap the unit back together and clamp it as tight as possible without breaking it. Let it sit for 24 hours, then unclamp it.

(If you have a better way to glue plastics, do what you think is best. Just don't try and superglue it or dump a bunch of white elmers glue in there and expect it to hold)

If you did it right and if you're a little bit lucky, it should work like new. Reinstall it and see if you're problem is fixed. In the future be extremely gentle with the adjustment knob. When you park the car, leave the selector at at 12 o'clock. I've read that some people have even tried opening that vent flapper up and lubing it with some silicone grease, but I can't vouch for this.

So there you have it. I did this about 18 months ago in my 2007 Ford Focus SES ZX-5 and it's been working fine ever since. Hopefully I can help someone else save some cash.

*** Not sure if this is the right forum for this post. I tried. I really did. Please move it if it belongs somewhere else.

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Trading your car in for a better one is also a good solution
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