Whether you drive a new and modern car or an old vintage one does not matter.
You have been driving for a while now, and that sound is simply making you crazy. You’ve probably been asking “Why is my dashboard clicking all the time and what I can do to make it go away?”.
One of the most common causes of a clicking noise in the dashboard is due to a broken actuator, which is responsible for moving the air in the correct direction.
Well, in this article we have taken care of your problem and will give you an idea of the most common dashboard clicking problems.
- 1 Why Is My Dashboard Clicking and Knocking All the Time?
- 2 Most Common Causes of Clicking in the Dashboard
- 3 Is it safe to drive car with clicking noise?
- 4 Why is my dashboard clicking every time I turn on the heater and AC unit?
- 5 I have all the tools, but I am not confident about repairing the problem. What should I do?
- 6 FAQs
- 7 Final Thoughts
Why Is My Dashboard Clicking and Knocking All the Time?
Dashboard noises like knocking or clicking are never a good sign. It is not normal for your car’s dashboard to produce any sounds of that nature. Normally, you feel worried and anxious when you hear them since they can only indicate trouble.
Whatever the problem with your clicking dashboard, there are several reasons for it and numerous ways to tackle it. The best way would be to seek professional help, but if you are a car enthusiast and know a bit about car mechanics, you can probably fix the problem yourself.
Below, we have outlined various main culprits causing your car’s dashboard to produce that annoying clicking sound.
Most Common Causes of Clicking in the Dashboard
- Faults in the air conditioning system
- Battery damage
- Broken stepper motor
- Defective relay
- Faults in the Air Conditioning System
1. Faulty blend door actuators
Blend door actuators are small electrical motors controlling the car’s air vents. Moving them allows hot and cold air to mix in the correct ratio, delivering the right temperature air inside the car. The motors spring into action whenever you adjust the air heating knob on your dashboard. Older car models may also have mechanical blend door actuators instead of electrical ones.
This is probably the most frequent dashboard clicking problem. There are usually two blend door actuators in each car, one on the driver’s side and one on the passenger’s side. If you have a broken blend door actuator, one side will respond differently than the other when the car is working and the air is blowing.
Blend door actuators on new vehicles are made from an electric motor and several plastic gears. The plastic gears are mostly the first part to give out and break; if not, that means something is wrong with the motor.
How to fix it
If you understand what a blend door actuator is and where it is located under the dashboard, you can try to remove it after correctly diagnosing the faulty one. Once you have it removed, try and open the actuator carefully, and inspect it for damage on the inside. If there are damaged gears, you can try replacing them and see if that solves your problem.
On the other hand, a new blend door actuator is not that expensive, so it would be best to replace the old one with a completely new one.
2. AC unit leakage
The AC unit is one of the most important parts of a car’s interior. Its role is to provide you with a satisfactory driving experience while maintaining the air temperature warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
While modern cars have a very silent AC system, some older models may experience clicking and knocking inside their dash because their AC compressor is just working too hard. This is especially the case in the winter when the heating pump of the AC unit is activated to heat the outside cold air. A problem like this can occur in every old and new vehicle.
A reason why your AC compressor is working so hard may be because there is a leakage somewhere, or there is air present somewhere in the system as well. The condensate drain pipes can also be blocked, making water inside the system incapable of getting out and leaking inside the passenger cabin.
Another problem may be that your AC unit has a low refrigerant level, so the unit is struggling to work properly. A dirty air filter can also cause your AC system to exhaust itself and produce those clicking noises.
How to fix it
The best way to fix an AC-related problem is to drive your car to the nearest repair shop and let them take a look and resolve your problem. The only thing you could do by yourself that does not require much effort is to check the state of the air filter and see if that has been the source of the problem.
3. Heater fan or heater motor malfunction
The heater fan and motor are the parts of the car’s interior that deliver the air and make it blow inward. These parts are tightly packed and connected with the AC system and the blend door actuators, working in sync.
Since the heater motor and fan are moving parts, they can also produce clicking or knocking sounds on your dashboard, which can sometimes be extremely loud and annoying.
The heater usually runs on a brushless DC motor, controlled by a control module and relay. If the bearings on this motor have gone to waste, that may produce heat and unpleasant distorting sounds, like clicking or knocking.
The fan may also produce these noises if one of the blades is broken, damaged, or hanging loosely.
Both of these problems are easily diagnosed. If the clicking only appears when you play with the fan controls, you likely have a heater fan or motor problem.
How to fix it
We would again suggest taking your car to the nearest repair shop and having them repair it there, since this is not a problem that you can easily solve, and you might even need special tools to reach and remove the heater fan and heater motor.
4. Battery Damage
Sometimes, a faulty battery can be the only reason you hear those clicking sounds inside the dashboard. If the car’s battery is to blame, the problem is not coming from the dashboard but from the engine itself, even though you may feel like it is inside the car.
The clicking noise, in this case, usually derives from the car’s starter. Since it does not receive enough electricity from the battery to spin the engine, it will only produce a short click when you try to start your car. You may also notice any warning dashboard lights flicker when you do this.
All the symptoms above indicate a faulty car battery and a great indicator of where to look for the clicking problem.
How to fix it
First of all, open your engine compartment and inspect the battery thoroughly. There should be no visible signs of corrosion around the terminals. The most common sign of an insufficiently charged or drained battery is zinc sulfate crystals on the negative terminal. That is the white stuff you will probably see on any damaged car battery.
Using a multimeter tool, you can check the battery’s voltage and see if it is in good condition. Simply adjust the multimeter tool to read the DC voltage up to 20V and adequately connect the leads to the positive and negative terminals. A healthy car battery should have a voltage of about 12.6V or above. Anything below that is an indicator of a drained or worn-out battery.
A good thing to do is check the car’s alternator and see if it is correctly charging the battery. A damaged alternator may cause frequent battery drain, causing all sorts of electrical breakdowns.
5. Broken Stepper Motor
Stepper motors are usually small motors that run on direct current or DC electricity. They can move in very small and precise increments, making them ideal for use inside the instrument dashboard of a car.
The most common use for stepper motors is correctly measuring the engine’s RPMs. They are also implemented inside the car’s odometer to accurately measure miles per hour or kilometers per hour.
Even though many modern cars implement digital dashboards, many still have analog instrument panels, including stepper motors. So a common problem of these motors is that they can produce that clicking sound that has been driving you crazy.
Because the stepper motors work in steps and each full rotation is made of several steps, a faulty motor may produce clicking and irregular sounds. This would mean that the motor skips steps while performing a full rotation, which happens so fast that it can cause serious damage in the long run.
Old cars also use magnetic pins that go into these types of motors. With the help of the magnetic force, the motor moves and records how fast the car is moving in the odometer. A loose magnetic pin may cause a lot of clicking, and the arrow in the instrument table will also be unstable and flickery.
How to fix it
The best thing to do is take your car to a repair shop, specifically a car electrician. They would have to disassemble the entire dashboard behind the steering wheel and reach the malfunctioning stepper motor to solve this problem.
If the problem is minor, they can try to repair the motor, but it would be best to replace the old motor with a new one.
6. Defective Relay
A relay is an important part of any car, and it is the component without which a vehicle would not be able to function properly. It is an electronically operated switch that uses electricity as the drive to mechanically turn a switch on or off.
A car may contain over 20 relays located all over its interior, but the most common locations for these parts are inside the engine compartment or under the car’s dashboard on the driver’s side.
Relays are used to control the function of starter motors, wipers, lights, horns, and all heavy-duty circuits.
A faulty relay will usually indicate a problem with another part that it is associated with. It will also manifest a clicking or rattling sound, indicating that it has reached the end of its lifespan.
How to fix it
Relays are easy to diagnose and replace, and you should have no problems fixing this issue. By using your car’s manual and locating the faulty relay, you should be able to buy the correct one to replace.
To diagnose the bad relay, simply listen to it. If you hear that clicking sound, remove it and insert the new one; the sounds should disappear.
Is it safe to drive car with clicking noise?
Dashboard clicking issues are mostly insignificant, but that does not mean they should be left unattended. If you plan to drive a shorter distance and address the problem shortly, it is safe to drive with a clicking sound.
Why is my dashboard clicking every time I turn on the heater and AC unit?
The most common reason for this is a broken blend door actuator. Almost nine out of ten times, a faulty blend door actuator will click and knock whenever you turn on the heating inside your car.
However, the clicking may also come from the heat pump while the AC system is running, so be aware of that too.
I have all the tools, but I am not confident about repairing the problem. What should I do?
If you follow our instructions and diagnose the problem, then you should be able to replace a broken blend door actuator or a relay.
However, for more complicated problems related to AC or the heater fan, take your car to a trained professional.
We hope the article was as informative as possible and helped you understand the most common problems related to dashboard clicking sounds and noises.
Even though they are not a sign of an immediate threat or problem, they should not be left unattended, as they could become a serious problem over a longer period.