Hi Mr. Dog. Welcome to the forum. Sorry I'm not a Mazda or Ford expert, but isn't your truck the same as a Ford Ranger? If so, my cousin had the same problem with a used '97 Ranger. The seller was told it would cost $650.00 to repair, but that was not the case. After my cousin bought the truck, he found it would only switch to full hot or full cold. He was told it was a common problem.
After digging into it, he found the actuator was missing for one of the doors. He found a used one in the salvage yard, installed it, and it worked perfectly. If he, (a do-it-yourselfer) could replace it himself and didn't have to program or initialize anything, I don't know why the previous owner was quoted such a high price for the repair. You might consider looking in the salvage yards for an actuator.
I can tell you from experience, Chrysler uses a bunch of actuator motors in their trucks, and they're all the same. I would bet yours are all the same too. The Chrysler ones don't have stops built into them. The stops are built into the doors in the heater box, so there's no special alignment or orientation that must be observed. My cousin just popped the actuator in without concern for lining anything up.
Don't worry too much about aftermarket parts. Many of them come from the same suppliers that sell them to the manufacturers. NAPA fuel pumps for Chrysler products come from the same company that supplies them to Chysler. That's why they're just as quiet as the originals. Chrysler minivan turn signal switches have three part numbers on them. One s the Chrysler number, one is a Toyota number. Don't know who the third one is for.
Companies like Standard spend a lot of time and money reverse engineering a part so they can duplicate it. Sometimes they beef up weak points in the original part to make it better, and sometimes they might not be aware of important design details so it could be not quite as good as the manufacturer's part. It's hard to know if the aftermarket part is better or inferior, but in the case of the Chrysler actuators, there's nothing more than a little electric motor and a couple of plastic gears inside the unit. Not much technology in them which is probably why they don't cause much trouble. There isn't much incentive for an aftermarket company to redesign a part with a low failure history. To have a product to offer to their customers, it's probably more cost-effective to just buy the original part and rebox it with their part number.
If you would like more information on the actuator, and if that sounds like it will solve your problem, Ill contact my cousin if necessary. He did a lot of research into the issue.
Monday, February 22nd, 2010 AT 5:38 AM