Day 2: After trying a second time from 2 different angles and using a large pair of vice grip pliers, the blower motor regulator came loose with just a very slight turn counter clockwise. In fact, the turn was so slight that I didn't at first realize it was loose. Once it was, I had to cut away a little more insulation to wiggle it out of the hole in the side of the blower/filter/housing assembly, then I had to wiggle it in 10 different directions to get it past the accelerator pedal bracket. Getting the new one in was another 2-3 minutes of wiggling it back and forth until it was clear I had it fully inserted into its place. Turning it back into a locking position was again a very slight movement and a very unsatisfying experience. I am still uncertain it is fully seated and secure, but I'm done pushing and pulling. Even the electrical connector failed to make a comforting "click" when it went back into position.
In my case, the blower worked at full speed when I bought the car second hand with 103,000 miles earlier this year. After a month of driving (and, oddly, within a few weeks of installing a new aftermarket cabin air filter), the blower would work at all speeds up to about 50%. Turning the knob past 50% resulted in no further increase in blower speed. Again, a few weeks later, it would only operate at speeds up to about 25%. And, finally, last week, it would operate intermittently, and only at what I perceived to be the lowest possible speed.
After putting the new regulator/blower motor control module in (some might still want to call it a resistor, but I can say after measuring the impedance across all 4 terminals of a good one and a bad one, it is not a resistor in the same sense as similar looking parts are), reconnecting the battery, and then reaching into the car to put it into key position II, and then waiting for a few seconds until the lights on the dash mostly went out, I was delighted to see that the blower motor was working normally again. The check engine light stayed lit until I started the car, which I did only after I was certain the airbag light was out, and nothing was whirring and whizzing inside the dashboard while the ridiculous number of modules were coming back to life.
The local dealer and a trusted independent shop I've used for more than 3 decades both wanted to replace the controller as well as the blower, itself, along with some of the wiring. I was told that there is a service bulletin for this because sometimes the wiring or connectors become corroded. While I'm not happy that the quotes for repairs started at more than $800, and involved parts that are probably don't need to be replaced (blower and wiring), I can understand that they don't have time to pull anyone's dash apart twice, so they will just follow their service bulletin and try to get it all working perfectly the first time.
I spent $54 with shipping to order a BEHR part from eEuroparts. At less than one third the cost of the dealer part, I was convinced it would be inferior. I was happy to see that the original equipment I pulled out of my car (dated September 2006) was also a BEHR part with exactly the same part number.
Unfortunately, I don't think there is any way to test the part out of the car. Resistance measured across the terminals of the "bad" part pulled from my 2007 S80 was identical to the values I measured on the new part. It is possible that my fiddling with the connections, and reconnecting the battery twice, with different sequences of key position/start/etc., is all that was needed. Obviously, I'm leaving the new part in there.
If you're wondering why I'm writing this in a land rover forum, there are so many common parts between the Volvo P3 cars like the S80 II and the Freelander/LR2, it's shocking. While I've found owners of Volvo p3 cars to be less than adventurous with their own maintenance and repairs (unlike owners of older volvos), it appears that owners of Land Rover vehicles are more active on forums, and more likely to dig in a try to learn about their vehicles.
I'm working my way through a list of problems with this car. I believe several of these problems are probably common to the Freelander/LR2. The worst problem, in my mind, is a pronounced noise/slight vibration in the front end that seems to occur once every 2 or 3 rotations of the axle/wheel. The noise lasts for about a quarter of a second, and definitely sounds like a rubbing and grinding noise (it is unpleasant). Sitting in the driver's seat (LHD), it sounds as if it is coming from the area of the left front wheel, but sitting in the passenger seat, it sounds like it is coming from the front right. The vibration is easily felt in the pedals, but also in the dead pedal area, and the steering wheel. The vibration might be what makes me and my passengers locate the noise at the wheel closest to us. 2 independent shops told me it was a wheel bearing. Like the LR2, the S80 uses a press-in bearing/hub assembly that costs hundreds to install properly , with the proper tools to ensure that the inner race isn't damaged by pressing on the spindle/bud face. Not interested in a $650 repair that probably wouldn't work, I ordered an aftermarket FAG bearing and a tool from ebay. I'm now very familiar with the control arm design on these cars. It was not easy to get the job done properly. Unforunately, the original bearing was absolutely fine, and the new bearing did not resolve anything. I'm now thinking the noise is actually coming from an inner CV joint of a locator bearing. I'm not sure that either of these things are bad. I'm going to assume that one or more of the engine/transmission mounts/pads have broken, leaving the inner CV joints open to too much movement. The left hand engine mount (and the torque rod) are identical to the LR2. The right hand engine mount appears to be slightly different between the 2 makes, but time will tell.