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NHTSA — Visibility: Defroster/Defogger System: Windshield: Controls/Wiring Problems


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
41,947 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Mitsubishi Lancer accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Owner Comments

problem #12

Dec 152010


  • 120,000 miles


Heater control knob cannot be adjusted, it is stuck on cold. Center shaft is broken for the knob.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #11

Apr 252008


  • 75,000 miles
Mitsubishi 2003 Lancer ES problem: Ac knob won't switch all the way over to heat?it kinks. If you turn it too hard, it breaks and you require to change the whole console which costs around $388 plus the labor required to install it, then the total will be around $675! this problem has been going on since 2008 but it worsened with time to the point of breaking recently. The two outside knobs on the HVAC unit (the knobs that control the temperature and where the air flows out from) are connected to the heater core via metal wires. When you turn the temperature knob to the right the wire pushes out and when you turn it back to the left the wire pulls in. This wire is connected to a piece of plastic on the driver side of the heater core. This piece of plastic is connected to a gear and is supposed to work harmoniously with the piece of plastic the airflow knob (right outside knob on HVAC unit) is connected to. That is where the problem is. These two pieces of plastic, blend link and lever, which are supposed to slide back and forth with the turning of the knobs, don't work well and the wire isn't strong enough to force the piece into the heat position. The result is the wire often kinks. On the driver side, under the dash, up and to the right there are two pieces of white plastic, one closer to the firewall then the other. There is a metal wire clipped to each. This is the part you have to turn to change it to heat. The 'bottom' is the temperature knob. You can either grab the wire or the piece of plastic it connects to and turn it toward the firewall most people simply turn the device by hand now but that"S not safe to do while driving! I believe this is a defective design by Mitsubishi that results in a safety hazard when the wind shield fogs up and you can?T turn the knob because it kinks. Mitsubishi needs to deal with this issue because it"S happening to hundreds of people.

- London, 00, USA

problem #10

Aug 012004


  • 20,000 miles
2003 Mitsubishi Lancer - difficulty turning the temperature knob. Had it fixed at the dealer just enough so that I could turn the knob, but is still very difficult and he warned that if I use it too much it will likely break. Apparently Mitsubishi is aware of the problem but refuses to issue a recall.

- Amherst, NY, USA

problem #9

Jan 052009


  • miles


Temperature knob wont turn. Can not move the knob from ac to heat. Can not remove fog of the windshield.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Jul 162005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles
Heater control knob turns very hard and now does not work at all.

- Saranac, MI, USA

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problem #7

Dec 302007

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles
Knob on ac/heater control broke, now stuck on ac. Can not use car in cold weather as windshield fogs up making the car unsafe to drive. This is a 2003 miisubishi Lancer.

- Antelope, CA, USA

problem #6

Dec 012007

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


I purchased a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer ES brand-new from a dealership in the summer of that year. Shortly after purchase, I realized the temperature-control knob was stiff and would have to be forced to switch from heat to cool and vice versa. I took it into the dealership, where a service technician oiled it. That helped for a few months before it started sticking again. Basically, it would feel as it the knob was stuck between hot and cold. It would have to be forced beyond that point. Once forced, it would either not stick in the most extreme temperature setting (I.e. max ac or highest heat setting) or it would not move much at all. It would often feel as if it were on the verge of breaking. I took it back to the dealership in 2005, where I was told it was a common complaint among 2003 Lancer owners. The service tech at that time told me it would cost $800 to fix but that so long as the heating and ac worked most of the time, it would be smarter to hold off until Mitsubishi issued a recall. He indicated that a recall was imminent because of the number of complaints he was aware of. The knob on my car officially broke last week. There is still no recall on the part, but a service technician I spoke to this morning said that Mitsubishi recently released a fix-it kit to repair the problem. According to him, that is the good news. The bad news is that it would cost $1,000 to repair, because the entire dash has to be removed to make the repair. Total estimated repair time is about 8 hours. It's my belief that this problem is common enough to warrant a recall on the temperature control knob and company-paid repair.

- Merced, CA, USA

problem #5

Oct 302007

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,360 miles
I bought the Mitsubishi Lancer in June 2004 with 29,361 miles. November 24 2004 with 31,952 miles we took the car (which is my daughters) to sanbernardino Mitsubishi for a fan controller recall # C0409zxx invoice # 152167 and explained it was hard to turn the heater controll knob the service adviser # 25 got in the car and turned the knob he said yeah it is a little hard to turn but they are made like that. I told him it felt like it was going to break and he said it wont and once again they are all made like that but he would have it looked at. We were told they oiled it and sent us on our way. My daughter turned the knob only when she had to because she didn't want it to break. We took the car back to san bernardino Mitsubishi on February 1 2006 with 37,320 miles for a reflash recall # C0505jxx PCM invoice # 164087. We told the service adviser carlos gonzalez we are again having problems with the heater controls knob being hard to turn.and he said they get this compliant all the time. Invoice # 164167 he had the heater control link part # 7801A110 and # mn185137hc control replaced on February 3 2006. Per dsm. On October 30 2007 with 51,391 miles I called san bernardino Mitsubishi 909-884-7700 and spoke to mike smith in service department and told him of my recurring problem with heater control knob not working.he told me it would be $900 dollars to fix the problem I was given the phone number for mitsubish North America customer service 888-648-7820. I called and spoke to linda would not give her last name and she said that the replaced controller which was done 18 months ago only had a 12 month warranty there was nothing they could do. I have read numerous complaints about this exact recurring problem on the NHTSA web site. This is without a doubt a design problem of mitsubish"S. what is a peson to do? just not buy a Mitsubishi"

- Moreno Valley, CA, USA

problem #4

May 012005

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 35,000 miles
I took our 2003 oz rally lanser to the dealer for a recall. I told them the heating and cooling knob was hard to turn from hot to cold and from cold to hot. I felt like it would break if you force it. They put oil on the knob and said they are all like that on this model. It is now so hard to turn we try not to because it will break. I have read all the complaints on this model and it sounds like a lot of people are having the same problem, but some of them have broken the knob stating that it cost them 500-900 dollars to get fixed. I fell that this should be a recall if that knob was to break in a ice storm you would not be able to turn the defroster or heater on. In the mid-West that could be a safety issue.

- Ottawa, KS, USA

problem #3

Aug 102007

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Heater control knob broke, as in every Mitsubishi Lancer, and no recalls yet.

- Boulder City, NV, USA

problem #2

Apr 102007

Lancer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When I first got the Lancer in 2003 one of the first things I noticed was that the knob for the air and heat was really difficult to turn. I took it into the dealer and was told that it was "just a little sticky" and if I kept turning it, it would work itself out and be fine. I avoided using it as much as possible because it never got better. A year or so later I had to take my vehicle in for a factory recall and during that visit I once again asked about the knob. The tech looked under the panel and said it was just sticking a bit and put some grease on the gears and said to just work it, turning it back and forth, and it would work itself out. It was fine for a couple days but went back to the way it was shortly there after. Finally, a few weeks ago, while on my way to the airport to pick up a friend, I went to turn the heat on and the knob just snapped off. This time when I took it in to the dealer they told me since the rod that connects the knob to the gears inside was what snapped it would be about $500-$600 to repair. He even asked why I never had it looked at and fixed before it snapped off. I told him I did numerous times and was blown off each time. But now that it is an actual problem they are willing to fix it, for a fee of course. Upon doing some research I realized that other people have had this problem with their Lancers and have had similar problems trying to get it fixed. This is cause for complaint, the dealer was not willing to fix it when I mentioned the problem numerous times while the vehicle was under warranty. Now this has turned into a costly problem that I believe is a defect in the vehicles.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #1

Nov 202006


  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Temperature control knob broke completely off. At first it was hard to turn and when it was switched over to heat for winter, it broke off. Went to Mitsubishi dealership; was told they get that at least 3 times a week then we were quoted around $900 to fix(parts plus labor). Sound to me if they get 3 a week then maybe they shouldn't be charging anybody and fixing it seeing as it is defective.

- Fallon, NV, USA

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