The actuator is located on the top right (N.A. passenger) side of the engine. It is not visible by simply looking under the hood. However it is not complicated to remove. I would estimate a savvi do-it-yourselfer to take about 30 minutes to remove and about the same to install. A mechanic will do it much faster if he's done it before.
(the following is to be performed with the engine cold)
Follow the above in reverse order.
Recently I have received a rash of damaged electronic boards due to people folowing poorly documented YouTube instruction on DIY actuator repair. Unfortunatelly once the board is damaged, the gearbox and motor don't mean much, and there isn't much I can do to help you at that point.
A bit of background information, before you go ahead and damage the board permanently, know this:
This is an example of a damaged board. Underneath that mess is a pad that is no longer fused.
This is what NOT TO DO!
If you are more comfortable with a pry-bar and a hammer, this may not be your cup'o tea. But if you want to have a look yourself here's how to take the actuator apart without breaking it further.
If you are reading this, you know that a malfunctioning actuator will send the vehicle into Limp Mode. This is essentially a very de-detuned open loop mode with very limited power.
It is meant to allow the driver to get the vehicle into a safe location and not put you in harm's way by stopping dead on the side of the road.
It was never intended for you to drive the vehicle day after day like that.
In Limp Mode, the engine control module ignores all feedback from sensors and essentially falls back on a predetermined control algorithm, it does not control boost, it does not control fuel-air mixture, it does not control exhaust recirculation. For this reason the engine does not run as clean as it does under normal conditions.
This engine was fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which will essentially capture and filter out all the black soot that diesels churn out. When the engine is tuned and running optimally, it produces very little soot as the turbine ensures enough air is delivered to burn all or most of the diesel fuel injected into the engine. In limp mode this isn't the case, and more soot is produced. This soot then gets captured by the DPF filter which was not designed to capture copious amounts of it. For this reason, driving in limp mode will stress and eventually plug your DPF which has limited capacity and once it is plugged and damaged, it must be replaced as the normal regeneration cycle is not enough. This means huge money. Much more than the $200 to rebuild the actuator. (just saying)
Will the engine start and run without the actuator?
Yes, if the actuator has failed, it does nothing different being there or removed. For this reason it's so important to get it fixed and not drive in limp mode.
Removing it will definitely sent the vehicle in limp mode, and it will also throw an additional DTC on top of the normal P0229.
My advise to you:
Don't drive around town with no actuator, don't drive in Limp Mode. If you need to start the engine to move the vehicle out of the way while the actuator is being repaired, you may do so, but avoid prolonged trips.