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Old 09-12-2009, 01:42 PM   #1
puckalicious
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Default air conditioning went out

2000 SL1, just got it a few months ago. So far i've had to replace the front wheel bearings and then the starter went out recently which left me stranded. This cheap car is starting to add up. Now the AC went out. It was working just fine and one day last week it just completely stopped blowing cold air.

I checked the relay, fuse, and pressure switch, all are in normal working condition. A voltmeter on the compressor reveals it is getting power when the AC switch is on. The electric cooling fan also still comes on as it should. I'm thinking the compressor crapped out? I don't notice any noise from it when the AC is turned on so I don't think it is engaging.

What should I expect in repair cost on this from a local shop? I'm located near Detroit.

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Old 09-12-2009, 05:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Measure the coil resistance or apply 12v directly to the coil. Either the coil is open or you missed something. An open coil means it burned out and wasting time looking to replace the clutch coil for a 9yr old compressor is debatable as you may never find the clutch tool and the replacement clutch coil assembly is more than half the cost of a replacement whole compressor assembly, if you can find a clutch coil assembly. This won't be a cheap repair no matter what you want to think. The savings come from doing it yourself and this requires you to fully understand everything about refrigeration to be able to use the evacuation pump, gauges, and the miscellaneous items required to restore an a/c system. Search the threads on those that did do it as you'll find very few capable of the entire repair. The pump and gauges can be borrowed from some Autozones. Most members will replace parts under some guidance and leave the technical work to an a/c shop to save on some costs - the mark-ups on every part replaced and all the labor.

Compressor prices vary widely as used ones are the cheapest, rebuilts second, and new the most expensive with two price ranges - decent if you buy it and outrageous if a shop sells one for installation. Shop online for your own education and then add the labor charges. Figure on at least several hundred dollars for repairs by any shop.

Last edited by fdryer; 09-12-2009 at 05:47 PM..

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Old 09-12-2009, 07:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Thanks for the well worded post, I did some searching before posting and read up on quite a few of your posts so I can tell you know your stuff.

When I had the voltmeter on the compressor connector with the AC on, I was only getting about 7 volts, does this sound suspicious? My ground point was a little rusty so hopefully that's all it was.

Can you explain how to measure the coil resistance?

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Old 09-12-2009, 07:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

The clutch coil is simply many wires wound around an iron core to concentrate the electric magnetic field when 12v power is applied. The "coil" will measure between 2-5 ohms, a very low resistance as it will pull a few amps for power. Most coils have just one wire, the connection on top of the compressor while the other wire is simply grounded to the compressor body that's grounded to the engine block. Other compressors will use two wires as the ground just comes back through the connector to connect somewhere else to the engine/chassis ground. Disconnect the connector and measure for 12v, with the a/c switched ON, (and as you mentioned before) there should be 12v (no lower as full 12v and current is needed to power the compressor coil) otherwise there may be an incorrect reading; any leak causing the low pressure switch to open will prevent the compressor from having 12v to power the compressor coil. If the fan runs immediately then 12v should be on the connector. Next is to measure the coil resistance; with only one wire, one probe connects there and the other probe goes to the compressor body/ground. A two wire connecttor is simply measured across the two pins with either an open reading (blown coil) or a few ohms of resistance. Be sire there's 12v on the connector and then measuring for resistance on the coil wire(s).

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Last edited by fdryer; 09-12-2009 at 07:50 PM..

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Old 09-12-2009, 11:23 PM   #5
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Devil Re: air conditioning went out

if you live in an area like mine, try to find a retired AC mechanic. lots of those guys just love to still work on cars. they will do it for cost of the refrigerant plus maybe 20 dollars for their time. you can save tons of money compared to taking it to a shop.

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Old 09-14-2009, 11:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
The clutch coil is simply many wires wound around an iron core to concentrate the electric magnetic field when 12v power is applied. The "coil" will measure between 2-5 ohms, a very low resistance as it will pull a few amps for power. Most coils have just one wire, the connection on top of the compressor while the other wire is simply grounded to the compressor body that's grounded to the engine block. Other compressors will use two wires as the ground just comes back through the connector to connect somewhere else to the engine/chassis ground. Disconnect the connector and measure for 12v, with the a/c switched ON, (and as you mentioned before) there should be 12v (no lower as full 12v and current is needed to power the compressor coil) otherwise there may be an incorrect reading; any leak causing the low pressure switch to open will prevent the compressor from having 12v to power the compressor coil. If the fan runs immediately then 12v should be on the connector. Next is to measure the coil resistance; with only one wire, one probe connects there and the other probe goes to the compressor body/ground. A two wire connecttor is simply measured across the two pins with either an open reading (blown coil) or a few ohms of resistance. Be sire there's 12v on the connector and then measuring for resistance on the coil wire(s).

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I measured the voltage again, its getting 12 volts (actually 14, I just replaced the battery so its at full capacity). Coil is showing open resistance, which appears to be a blown coil.

So you're saying the coil can be changed without replacing the compressor and resealing/filling the system?

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Old 09-14-2009, 12:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Yes, it can be done but only with the right puller made to remove the clutch. Its bolted onto a splined shaft that would be rusted/corroded after so many years and challenging to remove. Some fall off while others will give you gray hairs. The pulley/bearing assembly is next and removable with a plain three jaw puller leaving the coil last, which is held with three screws. Look in my pics for the disassembled pics; show and tell.

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Old 09-14-2009, 11:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Quote:
Originally Posted by puckalicious View Post
2000 SL1, just got it a few months ago. So far i've had to replace the front wheel bearings and then the starter went out recently which left me stranded. This cheap car is starting to add up. Now the AC went out. It was working just fine and one day last week it just completely stopped blowing cold air.

I checked the relay, fuse, and pressure switch, all are in normal working condition. A voltmeter on the compressor reveals it is getting power when the AC switch is on. The electric cooling fan also still comes on as it should. I'm thinking the compressor crapped out? I don't notice any noise from it when the AC is turned on so I don't think it is engaging.

What should I expect in repair cost on this from a local shop? I'm located near Detroit.
maybe it justs need recharge??????

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Old 09-15-2009, 08:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Yes, it can be done but only with the right puller made to remove the clutch. Its bolted onto a splined shaft that would be rusted/corroded after so many years and challenging to remove. Some fall off while others will give you gray hairs. The pulley/bearing assembly is next and removable with a plain three jaw puller leaving the coil last, which is held with three screws. Look in my pics for the disassembled pics; show and tell.
Your pics are great info to have in preparation. It appears you used a 10mm bolt to remove the clutch? I'm confused on exactly what I need to remove the clutch.

Any suggestions on where to find a replacement clutch & coil? I'm assuming the clutch is worn enough to just replace that too.

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Old 09-15-2009, 10:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Although I used a plain 10mm long bolt, I wasn't concerned about the autopsy on the donated compressor as much as I was interested in the mechanics of how variable displacement compressors operate. Acquiring the operating principles and drawings is one thing (line drawings are very complex) but seeing the actual mechanisms work is another.

I found a 10mm bolt to fit perfectly into the clutch center hole after removing the original bolt (8mm?). The threaded clutch plate fits onto the shaft that's splined. The splines sometimes rust so using penetrating oil like PB blaster or Liquid Wrench can help. The bolt threads onto the clutch and forces it off the shaft so use care. I had to use some foot-lbs to work the clutch off the shaft, somehow hold the clutch from turning, and didn't use any penetrating oil. This may be more difficult on the car with the two refrigeration lines still hooked up unless you jury rig

As to clutch wear, you'd have to assess how much wear took place after removing the clutch as you'll see better with all the parts removed. I don't know who or where they're sold but searching online should turn up a few places. You may not like the prices because clutch assemblies aren't sold every day separately when a whole compressor w/clutch are sold outright.

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Old 07-20-2010, 12:50 PM   #11
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Ok so I got a little sidetracked....

The clutch coil is replaced with a working unit! Thx for all the help, but now I have a new issue. Maybe just coincidence, but now when I turn on the AC I still don't get any cold air.

The low side pressure is about 35psi when the compressor is on or off, it didn't change hardly at all. I don't have a gage that will work for the high side.

Does this seem like a normal low pressure?

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Old 07-20-2010, 02:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

Sidetracked? A little?

The same 35psi with the compressor on or off means little R134a left in the system. Check for leaks (oil and/or dye markers) especially the two service valves before a full evacuation otherwise you'll find out about leaks when an evac is done; the vacuum created will do two things - remove any air, moisture and R134a from the system and allow a final leak check in a vacuum. A leak will prevent any vacuum from being maintained as a vacuum is absolutely necessary and a criteria prior to recharging a system with refrigerant. The total vacuum of a perfectly repaired system that anyone can have and maintained ensures the recharge will not leak out. No ifs ands or buts. A perfect repair leaving a system completely sealed correctly will hold a perfect vacuum. This vacuum then allows a full recharge of refrigerant and guarantees a leak-free system.

Autozone does loan out vacuum pumps and gauges so check your store for availability.

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Old 07-20-2010, 03:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

I have been reading your post, my A/C system seemed to be weak (13 years, no maintenance) so I took it to a local shop- they said there was very little refrigerant left. After a charge, it works better, I suppose the whole shebang is worn out.
I know that 134a isn't supposed to leak out, but if it does, and a recharge once in a while keeps it working, then I'll do that.
My old 1973 Camaro cleaned out my wallet, trying to get its A/C to work, and I am not in the mood anymore for a total rebuild. No disrespect of fdryer intended.

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Old 07-20-2010, 04:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: air conditioning went out

13 years before losing a/c cooling is a very long time and I hope I can have a car that long as well as a/c use without having to repair it. Consider yourself fortunate that yours lasted so long as there is a calculated loss rate measured in grams per year for auto a/c systems. I came across this info that states HVAC calculations consider 20-25 grams of R134a lost per year is acceptable. I think 28.5 grams equals 1-ounce. So 16ozs lost in 16 years is little more than half the amount of the average Saturn capacity. To have reliable a/c for over 10 years is great in my estimation. This rate of loss is the calculated losses through the hose walls and front compressor seal without ever touching the system. Any other loss of a/c in less time is considered a leak. All posts, by and large, have been about leaks. The very few exceptions have been for; blown thermal fuse in the clutch coil (irreparable), shorted diode and worn out cooling fan.

A/c systems don't wear out as much as they suffer abuse from clamps chafing against soft aluminum tubing, vibration cracks, loose schrader valve stems, and collision damage. Just some food for thought.

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