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HOW TO: Clean inside the blower fan wheel/fix ticking from vents

First write-up, bear with me if formatting is wrong. I recently had a mouse destroy my engine cover and take a lot of the padding into the "mouse cage" heat/AC blower fan wheel, causing poor performance and ticking from the interior vents. I pulled out what I could from the cabin air filter area but there was still a good amount stuck inside the wheel, this guide should help you to clean it on your own and avoid tearing apart the dash or paying someone a bunch of money to clean it for you. It's actually pretty easy.

Tools required:
14mm socket and socket wrench
phillips head screwdriver
flat head screwdriver
tape measure (to align wipers for those with replacement windshields without hollow mark in ceramic coating)
torque wrench (optional)

Step 1: Remove wiper arms. Pull the rubber covers off the ends of the arms to expose the 14mm nuts holding them on. After removing the nuts, you need to pull the wipers straight off. It will require a bit of force because they are press fit on. It may make it a bit easier to disassemble the arms first but I did not bother.

Step 2: Remove front fender moldings

Fastener A quickly stripped from exposure to salt and the elements so I could not fully remove the fender molding. I used a flathead screwdriver to pry out the tabs seen in the next two pictures.

Step 3: Disconnect washer hose. It will slide off the joint at the passenger end of the cowl.

Step 4: Remove cowl fasteners

Step 5: Remove the cowl. Once you have disconnected the washer hose and have removed the front fender moldings and the 5 cowl fasteners, pull the entire cowl assembly towards the front of the car. It will slip off the base of the windshield. If it doesn't, make sure everything is disconnected. You don't want to break anything.

Step 6: Remove the inner duct. After the cowl is moved out of the way, you will see this inner ducting. There are 3 more fasteners that need to be removed, and three push clips holding it in place at the front. Take them out and unclip it to remove the ducting. Ignore my dirty engine compartment.

This is what you'll see when the duct is removed. Under the base of the windshield, center left in this next pic, you can see the air intake for the heat/AC.

Step 7: Vacuum that bitch. These pictures were taken when I was putting stuff back together, the blower wheel was full of cotton fluff. That door in the middle of the opening will close when the car is put in recirculation mode. From now on I will put recirc mode on when I park to prevent mice from entering the blower when the car is sitting.

When finished cleaning, reinstall the inner duct, cowl, and fender moldings the way they came out. Don't forget to reattach the washer hose.

When you reinstall the wiper arms they will need to be aligned. OEM windshields have hollow marks in the black ceramic coating to help with alignment. See the next two pictures for what I'm talking about.

If you have a replacement windshield without these marks, use the following measurements to align the wiper arms.

Hold the arms steady while you tighten the nuts, replace the rubber caps and you are done. Congrats.
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