What It's Been Like Driving In a Michigan Winter With a Broken Heater Blower Motor

Illustration for article titled What Its Been Like Driving In a Michigan Winter With a Broken Heater Blower Motor

Electrical systems. I hate them so much. They are among the only parts of my cars that I’m, frankly, incompetent at repairing. So when my 1995 Jeep XJ went from “Beater With a Heater” to, well, “Beater,” I bundled up instead of trying to mend the issue. Here’s what that’s been like so far.

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My 1995 Jeep XJ’s electrical system has been ruined since I bought the Jeep for $600 three years ago. For some reason, the alternator keeps overcharging the battery. This not only resulted in the death of one 12-volt battery, but it’s also wrecked much of my electrical system, including the radio, dash lights, window switches, door locks, dome lights, and—the most recent tragedy—my HVAC blower motor.

Illustration for article titled What Its Been Like Driving In a Michigan Winter With a Broken Heater Blower Motor
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The motor itself, I think, is fine. But its fuse keeps popping, and frankly, I haven’t had time to just hard-wire the blower to the battery through a separate fuse and switch. Why? It’s too cold outside to wrench. Which is some truly idiotic logic when you consider that it results in me freezing my Arsch off every time I drive somewhere.

Well, actually, it’s really not so bad. So far, the coldest it’s been, when I’ve been behind the wheel, is about 25 degrees F. And with the doors closed, that’s not been as miserable as I thought it would be, as all the wind is blocked out. Well, mostly.

The most uncomfortable part of driving my XJ is when a car overtakes me. That creates a high pressure between it and me, forcing ice-cold air in through the voids that were once my floorboards. This is not fun.

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Illustration for article titled What Its Been Like Driving In a Michigan Winter With a Broken Heater Blower Motor

But honestly, I’ve been surprised, because driving without a functioning blower motor isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Part of that has to do with the fact that, if I drive quickly enough, the high pressure on the outside of the Jeep does push a tiny bit of warm air through my vents. It’s hard to tell most of the time, but I think there is a bit trickling through. Between this, my jacket, and the lack of convection (again, aside from when a car passes) stealing heat from my body, so far, blower-less winter driving has been fine.

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For most folks that aren’t me, though, it’d likely be miserable. But after driving some real piles over the years, I guess my threshold for discomfort has reached absurdly high levels. Maybe in January I’ll have to update this post with a note about how dumb I was to forgo fixing my blower motor, and about how horrible a Michigan January is for the occupants of a sad, blower-less XJ.

But until then, it’s manageable—with a heavy coat and a good attitude. That last bit is especially important, because it seems like when I’m not having a good day, the Jeep feels 20 degrees colder.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

Get yourself a radiator that doesn’t leak and a fan.

Stick it in the passenger footwell and run some hoses.

Dominate!