The Blue Mazda 3 Blog | Adventures with a Celestial Blue Hatchback

10 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on The Blue Mazda 3 Blog | Adventures with a Celestial Blue Hatchback
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Adventures with a Celestial Blue Hatchback

Mazda 3 Climate Control Knobs Upgraded

A cheap (under twenty bucks) and easy (ten minutes, DIY) modification to the Mazda 3 involves replacing the plain black plastic knobs of the climate controls at the bottom of the dashboard with more substantial tuner-style ones that also sport silver aluminum trim. These are the three knobs that control the blower speed, direction, and temperature, sometimes called HVAC.

A comparison between the original OEM HVAC knobs (left) and the aftermarket replacement (at right).

Searching eBay for #8220;mazda 3 knobs a/c#8221; will turn up a dozen purchasing options from China for around $15 with free shipping.  This was the route we took, and the product we received came as pictured within a few weeks. Those who want to buy North American can get the same item from autolismo for around $40.

Installation in its simplest form (shown here for  2003-09 models)  involves first pulling the original knobs straight out with by hand or with a pair of pliers (If you want to preserve the original knobs without damage, wrap the jaws of the pliers with duct tape beforehand). Then, simply push in the replacements; they will only fit one way, so there#8217;s no risk of making a mistake. The only problem is that in second-generation 3s, the backlighting will come through at night with a bright whitish or light blue color that doesn#8217;t match the rest of the dash lighting, which is red (or a bright blue when the stereo is on).

In 2010+ Mazda 3s, the HVAC knobs will be back-lit white unless we do something about it.

This is not an issue in the previous generation, as the plastic under the knob is red in earlier 3s whereas it is no longer. The solution for we perfectionists who insist on color-matching? Pick up some transparent red vinyl film from

This can be used inside the knob, so the light that passes through will be filtered red.

First, trace the shape of the replacement knob onto the film and cut it out a little smaller than the outline. It doesn#8217;t have to be a perfect circle. Then, use a hole punch and punch multiple holes near the center of the film to slip it over the stem of the knob.

Peel the adhesive and pass it over the stem to cover the inside recess of the knob. If it doesn#8217;t cover the entire inside area, cut another slightly larger circle and reapply, or just patch the exposed area with little bits of film.

If we stop at this point, the light that passes through the outer ring of the knob will be red, but the notch that indicates where the dial is pointing will still be clear, as that light shines through the stem of the knob. The solution is thus to cut a rectangle of red vinyl film and wrap it around the stem like so:

Press into place, and it#8217;s done, backlit in a matching red.

This is an interior customization that delivers good bang for the buck. The upgraded appearance is achieved cheaply and quickly.

Before (at top) and After (below)

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