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A/C Light Flashing and No Cold Air
It’s an inevitable issue on early model 4th generation Toyota 4Runners: the A/C Light suddenly starts flashing or blinking and the cold air coming from your vents suddenly becomes warm. This happens to almost all of us 4th gen 4Runner owners; it’s happened to me around the time I bought my car more than 7 years ago, and it happened to me again recently.
What you might notice is that when you turn on your car again, the air conditioning might work for a short amount of time again. However, soon after the a/c light will begin intermittently flashing and the air conditioner stops working.
The issue is typically not that the air conditioner system has failed, but simply an electrical relay that was destined to fail over time. This magnetic clutch relay is located in the fuse box located under the hood. This relay will need to be replaced in order for the a/c light flashing issue to be resolved.
Long-nose pliers are my tool of choice for removing and installing fuses/relays. They work perfectly for getting in between other fuses/relays and they allow you to get a firm grip for both removing and installing. They’re great for either size: the smaller fuses, or even the larger relays.
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Magnetic Clutch Relay
This relay is the one that fails under the use of the A/C system. The problem doesn’t only plague early model 4th gen 4Runners, but other Toyota models as well. There is actually a Technical Service Bulletin (EL011-05) issued by Toyota that specifically addresses this issue.
The part number for the relay that comes with the car is 90987-02022 (white in color). The TSB that Toyota provides guidance on this issue states that a replacement relay part number 90987-02028 shall be used.
You can either find an OEM relay (90987-02028) at your local Toyota Dealership or online, but they will cost somewhere between $30-$60 depending on where you get it. Personally, I purchase aftermarket ones on Amazon and they hold up pretty well. These are the ones I have purchased in the past for my 4Runner:
How to Replace A/C Magnetic Clutch Relay
This is pretty straightforward, just replace the relay. Open the hood, find and open the fuse box.
Using the fuse diagram on the cover of the fuse box, locate the relay labeled as ‘MG CLT‘. This is the magnetic clutch relay for the A/C. Remove this with long-nose pliers.
Some people (including myself) have mistakenly replaced the ‘AC 115V’ relay, which will not work. Make sure you replace the ‘MG CLT’ relay in order for this fix to work.
At this point, if you’re in a pinch and need to have your A/C working right away, or if you just want the A/C working until your replacement part comes in, you can simply swap with one of the other relays (with same part number 90987-02022) for the interim. There’s several other relays that you can use, but many of these perform more significant functions. A safe option to swap with is #2, FR FOG. This relay is related to the front fog lights and is probably the safest option if you want to swap the relays for the time being.
If you plan to replace the relay (90987-02022) and have the new replacement relay on-hand (90987-02028), then it’s just simply a matter of removing the old fuse and inserting the new fuse.
Now go start the car, and test out the air conditioning to see verify that the problem has been resolved.