Heater Control Motor, My Heat Doesn’t Work and I Hear A Clicking Sound

October 10, 2008

This is a common problem with 2002-2003 Mitsubishi Galants and I am sure other years as well. The problem starts with a clicking sound like a piece of paper stuck in a fan when the temperature control dial is turned all the way to cold. Mine started with a consistent slow click on the two coldest settings which only went away by turning the dial past the first two clicks. Eventually it would click more rapidly but went away on its own. The heat finally stopped working and the only way to get it to work was to turn the dial all the way to cold until I heard the clicking and let it stop on its own. Then the heat would work. Finally, after being set on cold the whole summer, the heat would not work at all and I could not get a clicking sound.

The cause of the problem is described very well in this forum:


I will describe how to fix this problem with pictures. I apologize right up front for the messy pictures as they were an afterthought and I was in a hurry because it was going to be stinking cold the next morning. I will get better pictures and post them later.

The problem is caused by a faulty heater control motor (Mitsubishi Part# MR958603). You will be surprised when you go to buy the part at the dealer at how they may recognize the part number and tell you how many they have sold that day! You can only get this part new at the dealer. The first dealer I checked had one that day but sent it out to a shop. He checked another dealer and they had 12 in stock!

The tools you will need are as follows:

  • Philips screwdriver. (it helps to have a cordless drill, it makes it go much faster)
  • A ¼ or 3/8 ratchet. The ¼ ratchet works best
  • Several metric sockets ranging from 10mm to 13mm. I can’t remember now which ones I used as it has been a couple weeks.
  • A long extension for the ratchet.
  • Patience

Here’s the part. This will help you recognize it when you tear apart the dashboard. I paid about $150.00 for the part. It is well worth the price once you drive a day in the cold without heat.

  1. Start by removing the glove box. Open it and then push in on the sides of the glove box. It is held in place by a tab on either side. Once the tabs are removed from the slots, drop the glove box down a bit and lift it. The hinges are open at the bottom and should lift right off the track.
  2. Remove the face for the radio and climate control. It is just held in with clips. Get a hold of it and pull. You can move the gear shift if it makes it easier.
  3. Remove the grey side panel that is in between the door and the dash board on the passenger side.
  4. Remove the grey panel from underneath the passenger side dash. There are several brass colored screws holding it in. I think I counted 12, but there may have been one or two more. Four of the screws hold in the climate controls. The climate controls can just dangle once the panel is removed. You will have to unscrew the grey panel under the driver side dash to get at one of the screws, but you don’t have to remove it completely. It takes some pulling and position adjustment to get the panel off because it covers the passenger side and the control panel, but once you figure out the correct angle it comes out pretty easy.
  5. Remove the black panel from below the passenger side dash. This is the piece that is below the grey piece you removed in the previous step. It is held on by a couple of black plastic fasteners similar to door panel clips on the bottom that just pulled out with the help of a screw driver. They look like this.

    There are also a couple screws at the top of the panel if I remember correctly.

  6. Next remove the blower unit containing the motor, fan, and housing. There is a wire clipped to the top of the unit you will have to remove. There are several bolts and screw holding it in place. Use the sockets and screw driver to remove those. This is what the unit looks like when it is removed.
  7. After the blower is removed you will have to remove three pieces of duct work. They just snap together, so they should just pull out. These are the parts outlined in yellow. I will get better pictures of the individual parts for later posting.
  8. One more piece to remove before you can get to the heater control motor. There is an electronic device mounted right in front of the heater control motor above the metal coolant lines that feed the heater core. It is a black box with two wire clips attached to the side. There is a third wire behind the device that you will see once it is removed. None of the wires need to be unclipped. It is mounted on a metal bracket held in place by three screws. Remove the three screws holding the bracket to the center console and let the device dangle. This will give you enough access to the heater control motor to remove and replace it. This is kind of a blurry picture of the device after I have unscrewed the bracket and it is dangling. Once again, I will get a better picture.
  9. The heater control motor should now be accessible. It is held in place by four screws. You will probably have to lay upside down on the passenger side floor to see the screws to remove them. I hope you are small. Move the seat all the way back for easier access. Remove the four screws and the heater control motor will pull right out. Here is the old motor still mounted to the center console.
  10. When putting in the new motor make sure the metal arm is fitted into the slot on the white actuator of the motor. I put a dab of grease on the metal arm after installation to make it move easy.
  11. Replace all the other parts in reverse order and take it for a test drive! Don’t forget to reconnect all the wire clips you disconnected.


  1. The metal arm should control the heat correct? I replaced the heater control motor, I still do not have heat, even with moving that metal arm back and forth..any other suggestions?

  2. Did you have the symptoms described above before you replaced the motor? The clicking sound when the temp control was turned all the way to cold? Did you get the metal arm into the white actuator on the motor?

    If it is not the motor, you may have a problem as simple to fix as replacing the thermostat or as difficult to fix as a bad heater core. It is difficult to diagnose without being there.

    You could have a shop diagnose it for you.

  3. Yes, I had the symptoms of a bad H.C.M. I actually “rebuilt” the motor, but I don’t think I had the timing correct, so i’m getting a brand new one in hops that is the problem. If it’s not working after that, i’ll get it diagnosed. thanks

  4. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for the post of this repair. We had this clackitty clakkity noise in our 2003 Galant for the past 4 years. It took longer and longer for the noise to go away and have heat until one day, no noise/no heat. I order the part from a Mitsu dealer in Texas for 130 delivered, he sells on ebay.
    It seems like a pretty straightforward repair, just a bit cramped for my 5’10” 250 lb size.
    I was wondering why mine went after 1 year only, any clues?

  6. Thanks Glenn! Glad to know I am helping some people. I am not sure why the part fails after such a short time. Mine did the same. I suspect it’s the poor engineering. Once you get the old motor out, take it apart and you will see what I mean. The cogs are all plastic. On mine, one of the teeth was broken off. Aparently (according to a post I saw on another forum) power is sent to the motor to actuate it and once the arm is turned to open the valve power is NOT shut off. So the motor continues to try turning but it is only allowed to move so far. That puts pressure on the cogs and they eventually start to slip.

  7. You do not need to remove the blower unit/housing. the duct can be disconnected and removed (wrangeled a bit) to get at the heat motor. You will need to remove the plastic retainers that connect the front duct to the rear section though. For reassembly you need to connect the front duct to the rear, then connect the rear to the center section by pushing to the left. Saves a fair amount of time.

  8. Thank you Greg. Good advice, and a time saver.

    I removed the blower unit for ease of movement in an already cramped space under the dash. It takes a little more time and work, but it was worth it for me.

  9. Thanks for the pics. I fixed mine, and I didnt need to replace the unit because I found the cause of the clicking sound.

    It is actually the plastic worm gear attached directly to the motor that has worked itself out of the motor spindle by about 1/4 inch. I just pushed it all the way in and the clicking stopped. Note that it takes some force because it is only friction fit. I did not need to use a tool, the old thumb worked fine.

    Hope this helps someone else. The cheapest I found for the part is $85. I fully expect the gear to work itself out of the spindle again, but that will take another 5 or so years.

  10. I love taking stuff apart and have always been fairly good at getting things apart and back together fine, but when it comes to the world of cars I am a super ameture. If I follow your instructions is this something I can do or would I need previous experience with cars and car parts? I mean, give me a disasembled grandfather clock with no instructions and I’ll give you a working put together grandfather clock in two hours tops. So? Can I do it?

  11. I love taking stuff apart and have always been fairly good at getting things apart and back together fine, but when it comes to the world of cars I am a super ameture. If I follow your instructions is this something I can do or would I need previous experience with cars and car parts? I mean, give me a disasembled grandfather clock with no instructions and I’ll give you a working put together grandfather clock in two hours tops. So? Can I do it?

  12. Hello,
    Thanks! Your step by step instructions were very helpful. Had all the typical symptoms, and as I live in Michigan and it just started to get cold (and the motor quit) I needed a quick fix, so I took a slightly different route. Instead of ordering a new motor, I removed the old motor, took it apart and removed the plastic gears. I then put the motor housing back in (minus the internal gears) and manually “flipped” the metal arm and white plastic actuator loop forward. (I figure I can always buy one later if need be.) I drove around for about 10 minutes and had heat! I have a longer drive tomorrow so we’ll see how it goes. I plan on drilling a hole through the lower dash and creating a manual hot/cold lever for the actuator in the future. Hoping that will be a cheaper and more reliable method. Right now I’m going to keep it on the “heat” setting as I’m too anxious to experiment with hot and cold switching right now. Hopefully I’m good for the Winter. I’ll try and update with any changes etc. after Winter.

  13. Excellent article, you described my problem exactly and I was able to fix in about an hour and a half last night. I opted to see what was wrong with the heater control motor rather than waste 150 on a new one and found it was a simple repair. One of 4 gears was cocked on an angle (thus the vibrating noise) and had eventually locked into place and the arm wouldnt move. Took me a bit to figure out the order of putting the gears back into place but the arm was free to move as it should again and my heat problem is now resolved.

    After the repair I realized the blower wouldnt have to come off but for the 3 bolts it takes to get it off, its worth the extra room.

  14. Thanks for pics and comments. Only tools I used was one stubby phillips, one longs phillips, one super small flathead, one big flat head. Didn’t bother to remove blower. If you disconnect plastic clip where floor vent on passenger side it you can push vent to right to disconnect and easily pull out the part of the vent that goes behind radio. Almost forgot that the vent behind radio has a screw exactly the same as the ones that hold bottom part of dash and climate panel. Heater working great now. Got another complaint that might be the fix to brians problem. The climate control hot to cold knob moves but doesn’t always turn rod that moves vent doors. I just reach under and pull plastic and turn by hand to where it stops. This car is so rinky dink. Got pics but just same pics as yours. You da man for posting this.

  15. Your repair instructions were excellent, your photos were helpful and necessary. Working on these late model vehicles is problematic. Thanks for saving me from spending Money at a dealer.

  16. can you some how make it move to the heater side and just keep it there with out spending the 150 dollars?

  17. Thanks for the directions. I’ll be attempting this over the weekend.
    If it’s such a prevalent problem why isn’t this a recall?
    Too late for a class-action you think?

    I’ll let you know how my DIY went…

  18. I removed my old motor. I also removed the valve to see how it works. If you’re facing it, at 11:00 (or the top left corner) the valve is wide open. Pushed all the way up or down is closed. I think I’m going to just hook a wire to the pin and just manually open and close the valve. Is there any reason I NEED the motor?
    Right now I can reach in (because I haven’t reassembled the dash) and flip it up or at the corner for hot or cold.
    Thanks for the instructions. They gave me the confidence to go in and DIY.

  19. Good information! My wife just called this morning to state “no heat” and ours has made the clicking noise since the day we bought it 2 years ago and like so many others.. no noise.. no heat. Hopefully my part arrives before the next cold snap, fortunately we dont live in northern states anymore so Texas has a more tolerable climate at this time of year. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

  20. As mentioned above, blower does not need to be removed, took me about 30 minutes to take everything apart.

    I opened my actuator up, the problem with mines was that the plastic gear mounted on the small metal pole slid away from the engine, so it was time for it to spin, the gears didn’t align. Pushing it back on fixed it, but I decided to put some glue so it wouldn’t come off again….
    Turns out the glue I put on leaked into the small engine motor and not the motor won’t spin 😦
    So now i have to buy a replacement.

    Advice to everyone else, I’m pretty sure that most of these can be fixed without buying a new one. Open yours up, hook it up to the connect and turn the car on, see in what spot the gears dont work and just adjust it. Some people get a broken tooth on a gear, just spin the gear in such a way that the missing tooth wont be used.

    Good luck to all.

    PS, they sell these on ebay now, got mine for $106 – 8% bing cashback

  21. Thanks for all the pix and explanations… would’nt have attempted this on my own. I just completed a successful repair of my wife’s vehicle. It took 2 hours to disemble\swap bad part; and 2 hours to re-assemble (over 2 days). It was a little tricky re-installing the large, clumsy dash, but over-all not bad at all. On my test drive I noticed heat in about 3 minutes!… Thanks again, you saved me a nice chunk in labor costs!

  22. Thanks a lot Glen. You saved you me bundle!!, One dealer was selling the part for over $200, ordered it from ebay for less than $100. Installed over the weekend in total of 8 hours. Some nicks and bruises and aching body but the saved $500 dealer was asking for.

  23. It is cramped, but do not remove the blower. Remove the duct work right in front of you. This is only one piece. Then just undo two (not all three screws) on the electronic device in picture 8 here and unplug it. You then can move the electronic device to get a Phillips stub in there and you can get all three screws on the heater motor.

    It truly took me longer to get the duct work back together than anything. It does have a plastic rivet in it. All together about 2.5 hours and could do it in half the time now. I am not a car guy. Just your average do it yourself kind of guy. You can do this. Thanks for this blog, it got me started on the right path. Bought part new on eBay for $122 with shipping.

  24. Thanks for the info. Took about 3 hours but with the help of your web page I save a fortune and had some fun doing it. It was very tight and difficult to get those screws out on the bracket and replacement part, but now I have HEAT. It was around freezing the other night, so maybe I should have done something a little earlier. Thanks again for the help.

  25. The heater control motor has been “clacking” for nearly 6 years. Sometimes it would switch over to hot or cold right away or sometimes it would take a few days then ultimately, weeks before it activated on it’s own.

    Finally, it got too cold to wait on it. Following these excellent instructions, I (who am no mechanic) disassembled the dash enough to reach in and apply pressure with my fingers to the actuator arm of the motor.

    With the engine running and the heat all the way on, I pressed on the arm and it kicked over. It just needed a little help.

    This is just temporary though and has given me confidence to order a new motor and try to change it out myself. I’ll let you know how that goes.

    Thanks Pete! Bless you and bless the Internet.

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