EATC (Digital climate control) swap

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Established Member
Jan 19, 2006
Want to change your stock A/C knobs out in favor of the digital climate control system? Of course not - it doesn't make you go faster. For those few out there who would still want to do it anyway, here's what you'll need to go from your regular A/C (no, I didn't take a picture - go out to the driveway and look at your truck) to this:


Oooooh... Aaaaaahhh...

Okay, now that you've wiped off the monitor, it's time to focus.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a difficult swap at all - it's just time consuming. Over the year it took me to do the swap, the hard part was figuring out what I needed to do to make it work. Knowing what to do and all the parts needed, it can be done in a weekend easily. There is no cutting and splicing, no fabricating, and no guesswork.

The absolute best thing you could do is find a donor vehicle with as many parts to use as possible. If you go out to a donor vehicle, make a list to take with you, as it's easy to forget some of the little things that are needed to make this work.

You will need:
New A/C plenum - the big A/C box under your dash. The blend door, blower, actuator, vacuum hoses, etc... are all different than a standard A/C equipped plenum; so get it all. Here's mine from a '99 Expedition:

The head unit:

Surfboard panel with sunload sensor in it (the little circle sensor):

If you order a new one, check to see if the sunload sensor already comes with it - mine did, so I didn't have to buy the sensor afterall. Here's what the sensor looks like:

New Radio surround for EATC (the A/C openings look the same, but trust me - they are different):

(Don't worry about the airbag switch - we'll address that later)

New dash bubble:

(it has these slots in it):

Ambient air sensor (sorry, no picture)

Radio bracket (yup, it's slightly different too):

(So you can visualize where this goes a little better):

White flex tube to run from ambient temp sensor to the blower:

(If you're changing the dash bubble to black, go ahead and get the cupholders too)

Blower module and harness:


Those took quite a while to figure out. If pulling from a donor vehicle, look behind the glovebox - you'll find the box mounted on the inside of the dash, to the back of the glovebox pocket. The wiring goes here:

(It's the blurry harness plug in the center of the pic)

Dash wiring harness (Tip - get this one from Ford: 3L3Z-14401-BB) It's about $200, but much better than trying to cut and splice an entire dash harness.
No pics - but just imagine a big bunch of wires, and you'll be right on.

Vacuum harness - it's different

Step one - Take out the dash. Go on, take it all the way out - don't try to be smart by pulling it most of the way out and squeezing everything in behind it.

You'll bend something too far, break something, and look like a dumbass. I used instructions from a heater core removal to take my dash apart. You really don't need it to figure out how to pull the dash out, but if you do each step at a time, bagging and labeling the screws removed at each step, it makes it a lot easier when it comes time to put the dash back together.

If you're going to drive it somewhere to have the evaporator and heater core swapped out, leave the dash harness hooked up when you remove the dash. If you're going to do it yourself, feel free to take the harness out with the dash.

Step two - swap out the plenum. Since I was right there, it seemed like a good opportunity to swap in a new heater core and evaporator. I took it to a shop for this step, since it required evacuating the refridgerant.

(Yep - I drove it to and from the shop like that)

Step three - While that's being done would be a good time to mock up your dash. Here's mine.


You could use this opportunity to do a full black swap on the dash, but I liked the two tone contrast:

(Yes, here also is your chance to do something super cool and custom to one up me.......bitch.)

Step four - While you have the dash out of the truck, install the wiring harness to the back side of the inner dash shell. Familiarize yourself with what each connector is and where it goes. It's a lot easier figuring out any unknowns now when you can get to it all easily than when it's in the truck and you have to squeeze yourself under the dash to see.

Step four b - If you have a truck that didn't come with the cupholder light or glovebox light - Surprise! You can now have them. The glovebox will just need a new latch (the light is built in), and the cupholder light needs just a small six inch harness. Go ahead and pick them up now if you want to install them.

Step five - What to do about the airbag off switch? There's a number of things you could do. When you remove the switch from your stock panel, it will look like this:


You could try to cut holes in your new dash panel to line up with the switch, but let's face it - it's not going to look factory, and it won't have the labeling. So if you don't need to use the switch often (or ever, really), just mount it to the inside of the new panel so it won't be flopping around inside the dash.


Step six - put it all back in. If you labeled all of your screws and bolts in sequence clearly, it will be easy to put it all back together. The main dash shell has two layers to it. Put in the inner layer, and before installing the outter dash shell, take your time makig sure all of your harness connectors are routed to their final destination. This gets infinitely harder once the outter dash parts go on.

Step six b - remember that white flex hose from earlier? Now is the time to put it in. It goes from the blower motor here:

to the ambient temp sensor, which will mount right behind the slots in your new dash bubble here:

Step seven - put everything else back in, and enjoy your new A/C like a boss.

I'm writing all of this in one sitting going off of memory and my photobucket account, so if there's something I skipped, forgot about, or you just have a question, shoot me a line or a reply here. I will update this post as needed.

P.S. - If you look at the wiring schematics of the EATC plugs, you'll find pin 8 interesting:

So if you want to enjoy your new A/C like your boss' boss, it'll be time for a new steering wheel swap with A/C controls. I haven't done it yet, but when I do, I'll add it's info here.
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