diy car repair via the internet

The climate-control dial of my 2004 Highlander’s AC/Heat broke last fall.  Luckily it broke while set to 85 so we had a heated car all winter.

Of course that’s not so much fun now that it’s summer.  Hot air blowing at me is not all that terrible right now, but as soon as the heat and humidity set in, it’s going to be miserable.

You know how I believe that 99.99% of every problem can be solved by looking it up on the internet?  Well, this was no exception.  I actually found a lot of information about the climate control knobs on early Highlanders and how to fix them.

First of all, taking it to the Toyota dealer meant a bill of about $1800.  This would be the cost to replace the entire unit, including man hours.

(I also learned that the nuts/bolts behind the dials can get loose and then eventually result in the loose/broken wires.  I’ll be checking those nuts on our other Highlander, just to make sure things stay tight.)

I found a website–with pictures!!!–that gave step-by-step instructions on taking apart the console, removing the box, dismantling the connections and finding the three tiny wires that needed to be resoldered.  I assumed I would be able to solder them myself (I even went to Home Depot and bought myself a soldering kit) but when I realized how small they were I decided to take the advice of other online posters and find an expert in micro-soldering.

Here’s what my dashboard looks like.  Sarge, Banjo Man and I managed to take things apart with the proper screwdrivers, wrenches and butter knife.

And here’s the part that I took to several computer repair businesses before finding a car stereo repair shop and a guy who said he’d give it a try.


58 nuts, bolts and screws later here it is, heading to town for a cheap fix.

I just picked it up from town and now have to remember how to put the whole thing back together again.  The soldering cost $30, so this is definitely a budget project.

If it works it will be a miracle.    Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

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