I hope I got to you before you tried to fix the Chevy Cobalt clicking noise coming from behind the glove box. First, let's tell you exactly what the problem is.
The clicking sound becomes an indication of a stripped gear inside of the air door actuator motor. The air door opens to allow fresh air to flow from outside of the vehicle into the interior cabin.
When you select heat functions, defroster or maximum air conditioning, this door closes to recirculate the air already inside the car. What happens is the final few teeth of the nylon gear inside the motor suffers minor damage.
Every time you turn the vehicle off the fresh air door opens by default. When you start the car it attempts to automatically adjust the door to the command position currently selected on the AC control panel. However, because of the stripped gears the door never actually reaches this correct position.
As a further explanation, the motor senses when the door travels all the
way to the stopped position. Therefore, it continues to try and close the door the
rest of the way if it doesn't feel some resistance. This is the root cause of the Chevy Cobalt clicking noise.
And you get to hear it every time you start the car. The correct way to repair the problem is to replace the air door actuator motor with a new part.
Unfortunately, the part is buried and requires the disassembling of the dashboard. In fact, the official Chevrolet repair procedure indicates the removal of the dash assembly.
If you price this repair at the dealership you will get sticker shock. The parts only cost around $50 so most of the charges are for the labor involved. Now let us show you two ways that you can avoid removing the dash to solve the problem.
Before we get into the workaround and repair procedures let's clarify this problem a little further. General Motors has a lot of problems with these AC actuator motors on other models. Nevertheless, this page deals with 2005-2012 Chevy Cobalt and the 2003 and 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier.
With that said, the part also fits the Malibu and HHR models of the same year. Of course, this also means the failed air door actuator motor offered on this page also fits the Pontiac G5, Pontiac G6 and Sunfire as well as the Saturn Aura and ION.
The part offered here replaces General Motors part numbers 52494371, 15842338 and ACDelco replacement part number 15-73513. The doorman aftermarket replacement part seems like a good choice, but if you are more comfortable with a General Motors part we offer the ACDelco replacement further down on the page. But first, let's see if we can stop you from buying any parts at all.
In my own personal experiences in dealing with the Chevy Cobalt clicking noise, I have found the same thing wrong on every car I touched so far.
The final few teeth of the gears take the most stress as they hold the door shut for a while until the motor turns off. Therefore, the workaround to avoid replacing the air door actuator motor involves changing the fully closed position of the flap.
This is an ingenious repair that I can't take credit for. I found a gentleman on YouTube that made a video that shows you how to use two wire ties to temporarily fix the Chevy Cobalt air door actuator problem. The key word here is temporary. How the repair works is that you use the wire ties to stop the door from closing in its original position.
This means that the actuator motor never reaches the stripped area of the internal gear. The question is how long will the repairs last. This depends on the age of your actuator and how much it gets used.
In other words, this repair could last a couple of weeks or a couple of years. Nevertheless, this provides a quick solution for the Chevy Cobalt clicking noise that can drive you absolutely insane. You can install the wire ties as shown in the video and then order yourself a replacement part.
You should also probably get a new cabin air filter at the same time. The next step is to try to replace the air door actuator without removing the dashboard. Note on some of the larger models like the Malibu and the G6 you have a little more room to get your hand in there. With that said, we have another ingenious solution in the next section that can help you get through this repair on a Chevrolet Cobalt or Cavalier.
As a quick review we provided a solution that could last a while. However, if you keep this car long enough, this problem will most likely resurface. The only way to fix the Chevy Cobalt clicking noise for good is to replace the air door actuator motor.
In the opening paragraph, we supplied a picture of where they locate this motor with the dashboard removed. The first time I performed these repairs on a Chevrolet Cobalt I noticed that I could avoid removing the dashboard if my hands were smaller. Then I found a YouTube video where a small handed person, not only perform the repair, but had an ingenious suggestion.
General Motors installed a fair amount of insulating material in the target area designed to reduce road noise. If you remove this insulation as shown in the video it will give you just enough room to work your hand up inside. Here's the most important part about this repair. This air door actuator motor snaps into place.
That's right, there are no retaining screws to remove. This means you only have to get your hand up in there and grab the motor and pull it loose from the retaining clips.
If you had to get a ratchet and socket up in there, this would never work. I have one more tip about this repair procedure. Reinstall the insulation as best as you can after completing the air door actuator replacement. Otherwise, you will notice the increased amount of road noise while driving.