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I just wanted to share an issue that I've had and corrected with my RAV4's automatic climate control recirculate function not working.

For a few months, I noticed that the recirculate function wasn't working to seal out external odors, eg. skunks and diesel exhaust, even though the servo was making its regular actuation noise. After inhaling the whiteout cloud of diesel smoke belched into me by another car, I came here to see if there was any info, and another user had this issue and it was reported that the solar sensor could be the cause, but it tested out ok.

Using JuneBug's manuals, I pulled out the cabin filter and was able to see the inlet baffle itself. It was able to go to FRESH mode, but when commanded, it moved halfway and stopped in the middle, only partially covering the fresh air intake. The manuals say to completely tear apart the instrument panel to get at the servo, but I managed to separate the cabin filter section from the mixer section without dis-assembly, although the unit was still trapped in the dash. I was able to get about 3 inches of clearance between the two units, and got my hand up to the servo to reseat the track a few times without success. I stuck my cell phone up there to film the servo movement, and saw that the servo wasn't rotating fully to allow the baffle to close.

I felt around and was able to unscrew the servo, and disassemble it for inspection. There appeared to be nothing wrong, but I cleaned all the contacts with 99% alcohol anyways and greased it. It looked similar to this one:


After reinstalling the servo, the baffle was moving all the way across and recirculating properly. I even got to test it the very next day after running into another car belching white smoke. No more burning lungs!

It took me about 3 hours to fumble through everything. I hope this info would be useful to others that experience this issue.

2007 RAV4 V6 limited
 

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Hi, I've diagnosed the same issue (air inlet servomotor not operating correctly). How did you manage to separate the cabin air filter section from the mixer section? I'm not seeing a lot of obvious screws to do that.

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
For those experiencing this problem again, I've had this problem reoccur and needed to tear it down again. About a 1.5hr job. For me, the air inlet baffle opened to fresh air just fine, but when commanded to recirculate, the baffle gets stuck in the middle only partially cover the inlet.

I did not need to remove any part of the dash to do this job. This is what I did:

1) In the passenger side, remove the right, left, and center kickpanels. The left snaps in, the right is held in by a clip on the weatherstrip, a floor clip, and a plastic fastener at the back. The center one is held by two tabs at the rear.

2) Remove the glove box and cabin filter.

3) Remove the machine screw behind the right kickpanel. This allows the glovebox border trim to flex out of the way a bit more.

4) Remove the machine screw underneath the carpet on left side that attaches to the blower housing.

5) Remove the nut under the carpet around the center. It secures a Z shaped tab to the blower housing.

6) Remove the machine screw that attaches the 4WD controller bracket to the blower housing.

7) Remove the two self starting screws beneath the blower exhaust that feeds into the air mixer.

8) Remove the self starting screw at the upper air mixer housing, just above the filter to the left near the gears.

9) At this point, the housing is held in by friction. I yanked the entire housing and it pulled downwards to the right. Be careful when pulling as the inlet servo motor cable is quite short. Pull just enough to get your hand in between the blower housing and air mixer to get at the servo.

10) Remove the connector to the servo. The tab faces driver side and is towards the bottom of the connector. Took me a bit of blind feeling around to find it. Should pull out easily.

11) Keep wiggling the housing to bring it further down to the passenger side. I had to bend the 4WD bracket out of the way a bit and manipulate the bottom Z and left tabs for the housing to get enough room to work with. I ended up with about 4 inches clearance.

12) The servo is on the driver-side of the housing and is held in by 2 self starting Phillips screws (service manual says 3, but I only found 2 in mine). The servo has 4 holes at each corner. If you can imagine looking head on to the servo, the top left and bottom right holes are the ones populated with screws. Be careful not to lose the rubber washer between the baffle arm and the servo guide track.

There's not much space to work with. Last time around I used a short stubby Phillips screwdriver and it was a pain. This time around, I had one of these and it made it a piece of cake:


13) At this point you can replace the servo if you wish. The servo guide track has a D shaped hole that snaps onto the servo shaft, but needs to be positioned facing downwards to be easily installed. If you had a new servo that has the D shaft facing the wrong way, you could open it to reposition the shaft or apply some power (9V battery?) to the motor pins to make it spin into position.

For me, the motor was fine and it was the position sensor pins that weren't making good contact. I cleaned off the internal electrical connections and put the original servo back in.

14) If you wish, you can test the servo as I did by plugging it in and leaving the servo hanging, then hitting the recirculate button. You should see the servo spin enough to 'travel the length of the track'. Be careful not to press any other button other than recirculate, otherwise the air mixer servo gears may move and bite into the inlet servo cable. When you reinstall the servo, check that the baffle arm's guidepin sits in the servo's track. Wiggle the housing partway up, and attach the connector.

15) As you prepare to reinstall the blower housing, check to make sure the plastic gasket joiner piece at the very top of the housing snaps into the housing intake. When reinstalling the housing, try to bring the unit as close to the air mixer housing before pushing it up into place.

The plastic joiner piece has a foam seal on both sides to prevent air leaking out of the inlet duct. Last time I did this, the plastic joiner foam gaskets sort of folded over and didn't seal, resulting in outside air leaking from the gasket when the vehicle is moving forward. Ramjet physics. To fix this, I took off my wipers and the wiper trim to access the inlet seals from the outside, and poked the seal back into position. If you do this, mark the wiper nut and arm to ensure it goes back in the same position.

16) Reassemble in reverse order.

17) Get a back massage, my back was aching both times after this job.

Wasn't able to get many good pictures, but I'll post what I have later.

Hope this helps!

PS. Two other servos are visible from this position. From the manuals, looks like its one of two air mix servo motors, and an air outlet control servo motor.

Thanks to Junebug for manuals.
 

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For those experiencing this problem again, I've had this problem reoccur and needed to tear it down again. About a 1.5hr job. For me, the air inlet baffle opened to fresh air just fine, but when commanded to recirculate, the baffle gets stuck in the middle only partially cover the inlet.

I did not need to remove any part of the dash to do this job. This is what I did:

1) In the passenger side, remove the right, left, and center kickpanels. The left snaps in, the right is held in by a clip on the weatherstrip, a floor clip, and a plastic fastener at the back. The center one is held by two tabs at the rear.

2) Remove the glove box and cabin filter.

3) Remove the machine screw behind the right kickpanel. This allows the glovebox border trim to flex out of the way a bit more.

4) Remove the machine screw underneath the carpet on left side that attaches to the blower housing.

5) Remove the nut under the carpet around the center. It secures a Z shaped tab to the blower housing.

6) Remove the machine screw that attaches the 4WD controller bracket to the blower housing.

7) Remove the two self starting screws beneath the blower exhaust that feeds into the air mixer.

8) Remove the self starting screw at the upper air mixer housing, just above the filter to the left near the gears.

9) At this point, the housing is held in by friction. I yanked the entire housing and it pulled downwards to the right. Be careful when pulling as the inlet servo motor cable is quite short. Pull just enough to get your hand in between the blower housing and air mixer to get at the servo.

10) Remove the connector to the servo. The tab faces driver side and is towards the bottom of the connector. Took me a bit of blind feeling around to find it. Should pull out easily.

11) Keep wiggling the housing to bring it further down to the passenger side. I had to bend the 4WD bracket out of the way a bit and manipulate the bottom Z and left tabs for the housing to get enough room to work with. I ended up with about 4 inches clearance.

12) The servo is on the driver-side of the housing and is held in by 2 self starting Phillips screws (service manual says 3, but I only found 2 in mine). The servo has 4 holes at each corner. If you can imagine looking head on to the servo, the top left and bottom right holes are the ones populated with screws. Be careful not to lose the rubber washer between the baffle arm and the servo guide track.

There's not much space to work with. Last time around I used a short stubby Phillips screwdriver and it was a pain. This time around, I had one of these and it made it a piece of cake:


13) At this point you can replace the servo if you wish. The servo guide track has a D shaped hole that snaps onto the servo shaft, but needs to be positioned facing downwards to be easily installed. If you had a new servo that has the D shaft facing the wrong way, you could open it to reposition the shaft or apply some power (9V battery?) to the motor pins to make it spin into position.

For me, the motor was fine and it was the position sensor pins that weren't making good contact. I cleaned off the internal electrical connections and put the original servo back in.

14) If you wish, you can test the servo as I did by plugging it in and leaving the servo hanging, then hitting the recirculate button. You should see the servo spin enough to 'travel the length of the track'. Be careful not to press any other button other than recirculate, otherwise the air mixer servo gears may move and bite into the inlet servo cable. When you reinstall the servo, check that the baffle arm's guidepin sits in the servo's track. Wiggle the housing partway up, and attach the connector.

15) As you prepare to reinstall the blower housing, check to make sure the plastic gasket joiner piece at the very top of the housing snaps into the housing intake. When reinstalling the housing, try to bring the unit as close to the air mixer housing before pushing it up into place.

The plastic joiner piece has a foam seal on both sides to prevent air leaking out of the inlet duct. Last time I did this, the plastic joiner foam gaskets sort of folded over and didn't seal, resulting in outside air leaking from the gasket when the vehicle is moving forward. Ramjet physics. To fix this, I took off my wipers and the wiper trim to access the inlet seals from the outside, and poked the seal back into position. If you do this, mark the wiper nut and arm to ensure it goes back in the same position.

16) Reassemble in reverse order.

17) Get a back massage, my back was aching both times after this job.

Wasn't able to get many good pictures, but I'll post what I have later.

Hope this helps!

PS. Two other servos are visible from this position. From the manuals, looks like its one of two air mix servo motors, and an air outlet control servo motor.

Thanks to Junebug for manuals.
Can you please tell me, would experiencing this issue cause the "check engine" light to come on, on the dashboard, or, be detected by any of Toyota's typical service for such an issue? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Can you please tell me, would experiencing this issue cause the "check engine" light to come on, on the dashboard, or, be detected by any of Toyota's typical service for such an issue? Thanks!
The problem didn't cause a check engine light to come on either time for me, nor any codes in ODB2 or techstream. If I didn't have hyper sensitivity to diesel exhaust, I probably wouldn't have known.

It is quite easy to inspect though. Pull the glovebox and cabin filter, look through the opening to the top, and toggle the recirculate. You should be able to see it move all the way to both ends. Mine can open all the way but stopped in the middle pointing straight up when commanded to close.
 
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