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Air distribution motor and lever replacement on a 1999 Saab 9-5. The climate control system in the car operates a large air distribution flap, which directs the air to the dashboard vents, defrost vents or the floor.

When the system detects a problem with the air distribution flap, it sets error code 12 (motor short or open circuit) or 13 (flap jammed) at ACC calibration. Most of the time it's the motor itself or the plastic lever connecting it to the shaft. This article shows how to remove and replace both. You need to re-calibrate the ACC by pressing AUTO+OFF after the work is done.


  • Torx T25 screwdriver: glovebox screws;
  • Phillips screwdriver or 8mm socket: stepping motor screws;
  • needle-nose pliers: testing the shaft.
Passenger footwell

Unlatch three plastic pins and remove the piece of carpet on the left. Then undo four screws holding the plastic panel under the glovebox.
Lower screws

Undo the screws under the glovebox.
Upper screws

Open the glovebox and undo three more screws along the top.

Pull the glovebox out. Unplug the lamp connector and disconnect the cooling hose from the ACC.
Stepping motor

Unscrew the motor, it's held by two screws with a 8mm hex head and a Phillips groove. Unplug the connector and carefully lift the motor. Note the position of the shaft.
Plastic lever

The yellow lever is connected to the rod operating the latches on the floor - unhook it first. Pull the lever out of its socket - it takes some effort, but you can do it with your fingers.
Levers and motor

Test motor and inspect the lever. In my case the lever was broken at the point where it connects to the shaft operating the flaps. A new lever (left) was $16 at the dealer (part 5334693). I had to transfer the little rod socket to the new lever. Apply some grease on the outer surface.
New lever

Before installing the new lever, reach into the socket with strong needle-nose pliers and try turning the shaft to make sure it is not jammed completely. You can even pull the shaft out (it's a 8" long square metal rod) and spray some lubricant into the hole. Then insert the lever, hook up the lower rod and re-assemble everything.
Broken again

Less than a year later, the lever broke again. As the air distribution unit wears with age, these levers prove to be too weak to handle the increased friction.
Copper tube

I cut a short piece of a 3/8" copper tube and used a soldering iron to firmly seat it on the remaining part of the lever.

The tube was then filled with epoxy. I used this wooden stick to shape a hole, so the shaft would fit firmly.

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