Drivers side blowing cold air 1998 Buick Century Limited

Buick Century

Drivers side blowing cold air

1998 Buick Century Limited: It’s winter and I would like hot air to come out of both the driver side and passenger side middle-level vents. The problem seems to be that temperature is working for the passenger side but not the right side. Here are some clues:

– No amount of fiddling with the HVAC buttons in Auto or Manual mode seemed to fix the problem. Most of my tests were in manual mode because Auto seemed to behave the same. Also DUAL mode was OFF during these tests.
– Changing the temperature changed the temperature of the air on the passenger side but the driver side remained cold and unchanged. When temperature was set lower, both side would push cold air. At max high-temp, still cold air on driver side and then passenger side back to hot.
– I performed a ‘reset’ by disconnecting the battery for an hour
– Upon re-connection, the first thing I noticed was that the yellow Auto button light on the HVAC head was working. This wasn’t working before.
– The second thing I noticed that the fan wouldn’t come on. By fiddling with the buttons for 5 minutes, the fan came on.
– However, as soon as the fan came on, lo and behold, I got hot air coming from both driver and passenger side vents!
– To verify that this was not just a one-time thing, I turned the car off and then on.
– Immediately the original problem returned: cold air on driver side, hot air passenger side.
– The fan was also hard to start but I noticed that if I removed and put back the blower fuse, the fan would almost always start working again. (The fan is more of a red-herring….the temperature problem is the main thing I need to solve.)
– Btw, somewhere along the way the Auto button yellow light stopped working again.
– I noticed something weird: When HVAC was off, whenever a pushed a button to turn the unit on, I could hear the engine strain. It acted like, no matter what, the A/C compressor was turning on (even though the temperature was set to max-high and it was cold outside).
– Sure enough, I noticed the A/C clutch would engage whenever a button was pushed on the HVAC. I removed the fuse for the A/C clutch.
– From this point on, the compressor did not engage, however the driver side vent continued to blow “cool” (but not cold) air. Passenger side still hot.
– During testing, somehow, magically, after the HVAC was on for about 10 minutes, the driver side started blowing hot air.
– I turned car off and then on, and the problem returned immediately. The driver side blowing cold air, passenger side hot
– This morning on way to work, I waited to see if the driver side would magically start blowing hot. It didn’t.
– Then, after about 10 minutes, just on a hunch, I lowered the temperature as low as it could go, and then raised it again to max
– Voila, both sides start blowing hot air.
– My question: Is there a driver side thermostat separate from the passenger side? If so, it seems like the driver side thermostat always thinks that the temperature is “too hot” and thus turns the A/C on and then channels the A/C cold air into the driver side vents because it thinks it should be cooling the driver off even though it should be heating things up. Also, apparently, even when the A/C clutch is disconnected, it puts some flap in position to channel air from the A/C to the driver side vent, rather than channel air from the heater.
– At first thought, one might think that the driver side actuator that controls a flap may be at fault. However, if this were true, why would the HVAC be initiating the A/C clutch when it shouldn’t? If it was just a flap actuator problem and the thermostat was working properly, the A/C clutch would not be engaged, but the driver side would blow “cool” (outside) air.

Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated.

Thank you for such a detailed description of your problem. 99% of the time when this issue occurs, the problem is in fact the Drivers Side Actuator.  They tend to stick and chew up the gears yet occasionally allowing it to work. The other 1 % of the time the door or linkage is damaged. This is quite common with all vehicles manufactured with electronic actuators.

Labor Time to Replace the Actuator is 1.0 Hours.

Actuator Replacement Procedure – Drivers Side

  • Disconnect the negative battery cable
  • Remove the instrument panel and instrument panel carrier
  • Unplug the temperature valve actuator harness connector
  • Remove the mounting screws, then temperature valve actuator.
  • Install in reverse order

Actuator Location Chart

Actuator location chart