SAAB 9-5 ACC 08 Error Code; Blend Door & Stop Arm Repair

This is the most frustrating repair I’ve ever had to do on my 9-5. Supposedly the dealer charges up to $2000 when the ACC throws an 08 code. I heard they fix the problem by replacing the entire heater box. I can understand why they don’t dink around under the dash with this repair.
The symptoms of a broken stop arm and/or blend door are a clicking noise behind the dash, and no control of the temperature or venting on one side of the vehicle. This can be confirmed by pressing the “off” and “auto” buttons simultaneously on the ACC controls. The computer will check the system and any codes will show up as a series of numbers. An 08 code will a classic confirmation of a broken stop arm or blend door lever on the driver’s side.



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Once I had my code I got under the driver’s side dash, removed the four Torx screws, OBD-II port, and plastic panel, this exposes the offending parts.

The motor, vent elbow, and blend door are located under the dash near the gas petal, behind the center console.

I started removing the screws holding the motor and vent elbow. There are about six of them and they are all hard to get at. You will also want to undo the wire harness on the motor and the sensor on the elbow.

Here are the parts to set aside

This exposes the blend door

I had a broken stop arm, but that soon became a broken blend door shaft when I started banging on it with a jeweler’s hammer. Not my most brilliant moment, I admit.

I was unable to fix the the blend door arm as described on other online sites, so I set out to fix the arm my own way.

I started by lining up the broken arm and using jeweler’s glue to set it back in place (super glue on the tip of a toothpick would work). I let it dry and then used a two part epoxy that hardens into a clear plastic to coat the entire shaft. I used the epoxy to build up several coats. By the time I was done the shaft was extremely rigid, possibly stronger than when it was new.

With the shaft fixed, I was able to focus on the part that started this whole ordeal. I had ordered a new stop arm from The Saab Site.


The stop arm goes on the end of the shaft between the box and the motor. I had to file down, and ultimately remove, the small plastic clip on the shaft.

This, along with some grease, made it possible to slide the new arm on the repaired shaft. Make sure you press from both the front and back of the blend door to keep from putting pressure on the repaired shaft.



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You will want to move the blend door stop arm all the way down. Then turn the metal shaft on the removed motor so it looks like this, with the notches facing in this direction:

Hopefully you can skip the next step by matching my photo above, but I found this shaft position by taking the motor apart and turning the motor’s shaft until it fit the blend door shaft before putting the motor back together again.

Once the motor was back together, and aligned to fit the blend door shaft, I reinstalled the vent elbow (after gluing the loose foam rubber) and reassembled motor, hooked up the wiring harness and sensor, and tested the ACC again.

No more 08 ACC error. My vents work and the temperature is correct again.

This repair isn’t technically difficult, but it’s a hassle because the area under the dash is tight and the blend door area is even tighter. There are a lot of tiny screws to remove and they don’t go back easily.

I used a headband lamp to light what I was looking at while I was under the dash. I don’t know if I could have done it with a drop-light or regular flashlight.

50 thoughts on “SAAB 9-5 ACC 08 Error Code; Blend Door & Stop Arm Repair

  1. You would have saved some time by using the full repair kit that has the sleeve so you would not have to glue the broken piece. If you (or someone else is) have the full repair kit, you can use it as a tool to turn the shaft without taking the motor apart.
    The stepper motor in picture 3 looks like the brass sleeve is in the correct position for reassembly, assuming the stepper is in the “upside UP” installation position.

  2. @saabservicesdotcom

    Yep, in the end the full repair kit would have saved me a lot of hassle; but I had started with only a broken stop arm and, as luck would have it, I broke the shaft myself as I was installing the arm repair. At that point I was to the end of my rope; the ACC was going to get fixed that night no matter what.

  3. Thanks for this great guide. I am having trouble with my blend door shaft, but on the passenger side. The little clip in the shaft broke off somehow, and as far as I can tell, when I insert the motor it doesn’t turn anything. Do you have any suggestions? I can’t find anything online about the shaft on the passenger side, and I don’t think that plastic shaft repair can be used, or at least I don’t see how to pull off the broken part. Thanks!

  4. What I ended up doing, about 9 months after this repair, was to remove the motor completely so I could manually control the blend door by hand. I twist the shaft up (counterclockwise) for cold air and down (clockwise) for hot air. I use a clothespin to keep the blend door from moving once I have it where I want it or it will shift on bumpy roads. This is an ugly repair, but it works beautifully and the parts are under the dash where no one can see anyway.

  5. The PO of my car also glued the blend door shaft. It was a really crappy job, and didn’t near work. Unfortunately, the huge amount of glue stuck all over everything is preventing me from getting that sleeve on to fix it. Luckily for me it’s pretty bad glue, but I’m still not sure if I can get it all out. I might just have to customize the sleeve or make something.

  6. Thanks for publishing this fix! Took me about a half hour and now I have heat on the driver’s side again. I used a small and large philips screwdrivers and a nut driver/ratchet to get all the screws out. The nut driver came in handy for the two upper screws that are difficult to reach. One was loose enough that I could turn it by hand. The other was in a position that I could get a ratchet on it. Piece of cake with your instructions.

  7. Thank you for the input! I’m glad this is helping people.

    About a year ago I was at the SAAB dealer and I saw a broken blend door stop arm sitting on the service counter as I was waiting for my bill. I mentioned it to the guy and he explained how they’re going to have to replace the whole heater box in this lady’s car because of the tiny stop arm. I explained the process above and they fellow looked at me like I was from Mars. :OS

  8. This guide gave me the courage to dig into my 9-5.

    I’ve been driving around for a year or so with the error code 08, and only cold air coming out of the drivers side vents. In winter, this means *cold*. Long johns are sometimes not enough ;-)

    Anyway, i examined my stop arm & blend door shaft, and they showed no signs of wear at all. No cracks, and the assembly can be turned by hand with a solid feel to it. However, the stop arm does not stop at the lowermost point (when you turn it clockwise), but some 2-3 millimeters before it. Still all feels solid and intact.

    What might be the problem?

    Any ideas?

    Cheers,
    Mikael

  9. Hmm… That is a puzzle. I’ve been driving around with the little blend door motor detached for about a year. What I’ve done instead is manually move the stop arm up or down, depending on the weather, and then clipping it into place with a clothespin. I’ve noticed that even a little bit of movement really changes the temperature, but more like 6-7mm.

    I would take the motor off, move the arm all the way to hot and then tape it in place. Drive around like that and see if your hot air returns. Maybe those last 2-3mm really make a difference when it’s really cold out.

  10. There was nothing wrong with the shaft / stop arm. It was the gear on the stepper motor itself, which protruded too far “into” the gearbox. Just tapped the gear on the motor shaft gently back into the motor. The motor gear should protrude 2mm from the motor itself, mine protruded >7mm and therefore had little or no contact with the gearbox’s gears. This is easy, once you’ve separated the motor and gearbox housing.

    http://www.saabscene.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=31639282

    So, code 08 cleared, and I get correct temperature. But, another code immediately showed up: 13 = air distribution motor jammed (or something like that). No demist, just a lot of air in your face. Strange, I first thought I had ruined something during the previous repair, but the air distribution vent is not even close to the same location, its rather seated behind the glove compartment… *Getting tired of these Saab ACC:s, missing my 1984 BMW 528i*… However, this fix is hopefully not that difficult, there is a step-by-step guide on mr. Platonoff’s site:
    http://photo.platonoff.com/Auto/

    Someone should write a novel about the 9-5 ACC:s :-)
    Cheers /Mikael

  11. Update: Code 13 fixed today.

    The problem was, again, the stepper motor itself. The motor driveshaft had popped out too far, which made the gears slip. Tapped driveshaft back in, reinstalled, no more code 13.

    Cheers /Mikael

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  13. Hopefully this has not covered already… I do not have an issue with my blend door however I am only getting air out the front vents. (No defrost or floor air/heat) When I depress a button on the ACC to switch from defrost to floor etc., I hear the motor run but no change of airflow. Do you think the shaft snapped? And where is the motor and door located for changing airflow direction? Thank you so much!

    Ps this website is an awesome resource.

    • Thank you!

      You raise a good question. I’ve been all over the ACC guts in the past and I’m not recalling where the flaps or doors for controlling the air direction are located. This would be something for you to ask a site like saabcentral.com. The answer is out there, I just haven’t ran across it. Sorry I couldn’t help.

  14. Thank you for the reply, I’ve found it though. The door and gear assembly itself are on the passenger side, center council under the carpet. The motor which drives this is straight up about 6 inches connected via metal push/pull rod. In my case the motor burned out or is stuck. Let me know if there is any way I can upload pictures for you or anyone else if wanted.

  15. @ Michael J:
    First look at econmancer’s picture in this blog, showing the blend door shaft break, so you can visualize things.

    The blend door shaft is yellow, and on the left side you will see, what I call, the crank(shaft) throw area. This area is designed into the shaft to provide clearance; allowing the black plastic disk to pass through the blend door shaft.
    The black disk is called the distribution drum. There is another one on the opposite side of the car as well. Above the blend door shaft you will see a square metal shaft, it drives the distribution drum. On occasions, this shaft will work its way toward the left side of the car. It then disengages from a yellow plastic coupling, mounted under the distribution stepper motor. (to be found on the right side of the heater box and best accessed by removing the glove box.
    To repair your “motor runs but air discharge remains the same” issue, you need to move the distribution drum shaft back toward the passenger side of the car and recouple it to the stepper motor. This can be done by pulling on the shaft with needle nose pliers. I use locktite on the yellow coupling piece to prevent a repeat failure.

    For those that think that distribution is not related to blend door action:

    When you have a code 13, it usually is caused by the blend door shaft interfering with the distribution drum in that “crank throw area”. When the blend door stop arm is broken, this interference with the distribution drum occurs on an almost daily basis. Eventually the blend door fails.

    Bottom line, for Michael J, I think you make fast turns, and inertia is causing parts to move. i.e. your stepper motor gear, and the distribution drum shaft. ;~)

  16. i have the codes 8 11 14 can any 1 help with these codes for me i have no air coming out the vents anymore but before it would be hot on the pass side and cold on the driver

    • 8 is the driver side and 11 is the passenger side blend doors and 14 is the air distribution motor. I’m don’t have experience past fixing the driver’s side blend door, but I’m guess the air stopping is the distribution motor part. I haven’t heard of many failures on the passenger side blend door, but I’d imagine it can fail the same way the driver side door does and the fix would be similar. If it is two blend doors and a motor, it might be easier to replace the entire box instead.

  17. i get code 1 and 6. Brought to dealer after driver side no heat, yes heat passenger side. Dealer switched the flap, said something broke. Now I get heat , but the dealer said every changing season need to switch the flap. What code 6 mean?

  18. If anyone can help!!! I have a 95 with a code 07 08 ordered and fixed the little stop arm the codes went out but i have no air at all from anywere you can hear the motor i am assuming but nothing is happening… Does anyone know what this might be???

  19. I have a RHD Saab 9-5 where the l/h (paasengerside) and rear vents work ok, but the R/H just has a mind of its own. Drove 45 miles in it yesterday with (for once) the drivers side vent blowing at the correct temperature, but the last 3 miles the drivers side temperature just went through the roof. However, sometimes, after a long journey where the r/h has been running hot, it starts to cool down of its own accord. This is regardless of whether the heater is on manual or auto. Saab dealer replaced an air con pipe on Friday, checked the heater system but said there were no trouble codes!!!!
    Any ideas?

    • Correct, expect it would be the passenger side blend door that is giving you trouble. The 9-5 has two zones, the driver side zone and the rest of the car (passenger and backseat).

  20. Thanks for this guide, I had a problem with the driver’s side blend door stuck on full heat, “Error code 11”. I followed your guide to dismantle and diagnose . I discovered that the arm and shaft were both intact, the problem was with the stepper motor shaft. It had slipped outwards about 3 or 4 millimetres and the gear at the end of it was missing the gears in the gearbox. It took me an hour to find out why the stepper motor was turning but there was no output from the gearbox. I tapped it back in and it worked. Thanks to your procedure describing how to realign the shaft with the arm I put everything back together and the problem is solved.
    The job is not difficult, but access and light are a real problem. There is no easy way to do this, I tried doing it lying upside down on the drivers seat, but it that was also very uncomfortable.
    Doing this myself must have saved me a large repair bill. Thank you .

  21. Hi, I also have problems with my saab’s AC. No worries with heating, but the AC side is not working.
    Compressor,fuses etc. are all fine, but its showing the 08 fault.
    Could it be this arm, or any ideas that may be helpful.
    Thanks all,shane.

    • I think you’re correct; it sounds like the door broke in the heat position. Is it only one side of the car that isn’t getting cold air or are you not getting cold air out of any vents? One side hot and the other side cold would be the best evidence of the blend door since the two doors don’t usually break at the same time.

  22. I bought a 2002 Saab for my son who turned 16 (first car). The heat did not work, I followed this trend and found out to be very helpful. The stop arm was broken, it cost me only $43 to replace the part, now the heat is working no error shows. Thanks for sharing, it saved me a lot of money. The comments gave me confidence which I have never tried any thing like this on cars. The pictures are very helpful as well.

  23. Had my ’01 a couple years. Most of the time, it’s no air at all from the front vents (both sides) and burn-your-face-off hot air to the back. Fault code 11 popped up. Not having A/C has been a minor inconvenience, but I’m ready to tackle it now that I’ve read the above posts. Thanks, everybody. If you have had the same trouble I’ve had, let me know if you found a different fix.

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  27. I have read all the (useful) posts about code 08 but nobody says where to get the repair kit from? I presume it isn’t main dealers as they apparently just change the heater box at great expense. Any help appreciated.
    Thanks
    Dave

  28. I ran into an error that is not described in any of the sites I found, that the shaft of the engine had slid out of position. The consequence was that the gears did not grip in to each other and the heat flap did not move.

    The fault can be found if you detach the engine from the plastic cover (see bottom third picture).
    The solution is to push back the shaft in position with pliers, make sure the shaft is aligned with the rear mounting afterwards, then the gearwheels is in line again.

  29. I replaced the passenger side arm a couple of years ago on my 2000 9-5 and had the same fault code as that time (08) but this time the drivers side would not blow heat. After removing the motor the stop arm and all other parts were intact. After some troubleshooting I found the motor to be bad as I could hold the shaft in place and the internal gears would grind.

  30. I found the air distribution arm on the passenger side disconnected…..everything else OK.

    Driver side has a broken arm…..not sure of the shaft. Will get to that soone.

    thanks for the good information

  31. I just want to go on the record here to thank you for posting such detailed photos of this fix.

    The photos and instrux posted by the manufacturer of the repair kit that I used were horribly vague, and yours crystal clear.

    Rock on,

    m

    • Thank you! It’s one of those repairs the SAAB owners out there need to know about. Seems like everyone eventually finds they’ve got a broken blend door if they hold on to the car long enough, and paying to have the entire heater box replaced at the dealer is outrageous.

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  33. Good advice and thanks for the info. I used this info and info from another SAAB forum to repair mine and clear all the codes.
    I ordered just the stop arm from SAABSite for the left side which I found had broken. It worked but I did have a little trouble getting the new part on. I think most of my difficulty was because the manufacturing of the part from SAABSite was not very good. The hole with the keyways was not round but was uneven and rough. It looked like someone didn’t use the right tool to drill it but instead bored it out with too small of a drill bit. I’ve got a little experience in a machine shop and so I was really surprised/disappointed at this workmanship. I had to clean it up with my tools.
    After doing all this, I decided to replace the right side stop arm as well as a precaution. I went on Ebay and found and ordered the same type of part. The Ebay item price was a little better due to cheaper shipping which was actually A LOT faster getting to me so a win-win all ways around. I was very happy to find the part from Ebay was much higher quality. That is the one I would recommend if you were to buy. However, I also noticed that the motor shaft on my right side had slipped as you describe. At first I pushed it in too far because when I put the cover back on, it would stall… I found the other end of the shaft that pokes out the back was contacting the cover. I repositioned it again and had no further problems

  34. Someone mentioned above that they manually are moving the blend door. I have the motor off, but not sure how to move the blend door. Any pictures available of the part you move?
    Thanks

    • Turn the yellow part in these photos clockwise/counter-clockwise to switch from cold to hot air. I don’t recall which direction is hot and which is cold. Once you’ve got it rotated all the way for the temperature you need, tape or shim the yellow part securely in place to keep it from moving while driving around.

  35. Thanks, I tried it tonight and the heat worked. The A/C isn’t as cold as the passenger side but at least I know I will have heat this winter if I don’t get it fixed before then. Is it possible the blend door sticks before it gets all the way to the cold? It seems I am as far counterclockwise as it will go but not as cool as it should be. Any thoughts?

    • Yep, it sounds like the blend door isn’t moving all the way to the AC position. Even getting it to move an eighth of an inch more will make a temperature difference. The cold air really gets overpowered by even the tiniest leak of hot air. The task will be to get it to move past where it is sticking without breaking the blend door even more. It’s really disappointing SAAB used such brittle plastic for a part of the car that isn’t really designed to be serviceable.

  36. I tried this fix and read up on the Saab 95. I have error codes.

    1-8
    2-14

    I have replaced the little aluminum piece and have everything there, just wondered if i miss-aligned them.

    Otherwise, no dice. Not working, still blows heat from passengers side.

  37. Not the most enjoyable repair I’ve attempted, but your pics and instructions made it a whole lot easier…thanks so much!! Really the worst part was trying to fit under the dash and still be able to use two hands. Also your headlamp tip proved very valuable. Now I’ve got heat for the rest of the winter and hopefully A/C next summer. It sucks having it reversed. Thanks again!

  38. I have a broken blend door shaft on the passenger, just took it to my mechanic who said that the aluminum kit wouldn’t reach based on how far inside the shaft is broken.

    Would it be possible to glue it back together somehow, or do I need to take the entire heater box out?…

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