Recirculation motor is totally different from other ACC motors. It is not a stepper motor but rather a plain DC motor that just runs into hard stops on both limits. As such there is no way for the ACC computer to detect broken gears and the defect just goes unnoticed by the owner (who intead complains about poor AC perfomance). By the way, hitting the hard stops puts a lot of stress on the gears inside and eventually breaks them.
The definitive step is to remove the glove box and watch/feel the the motor actuator arm. The non so definitive test is to observe the change in airflow speed when switching reciculation on/off at max fan speed with all doors and windows closed - but it is hard to know what to expect in this case.
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