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Old 11-13-2009, 10:16 PM   #1
flflashr
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Wrench Air conditioner clutch racket

97 SL2, 230000 miles. A few days ago, I heard an intermittent racket from under the hood. Tonight I was able to see that it was coming from the electric clutch (is that the right term?) on the air conditioning compressor. When I could hear the noise, I could see something protruding from the face of the clutch, near the perrimeter, although even at idle, it was too fast to determine what it was.

When I stopped the engine, I noticed 3 "pins" which look roughly like roofing nails in the face of the assembly. Two seem tight, one seems somewhat loose. I'm betting that the loose one is the source of the noise.

I can live without the A/C for at least 6 months. Is there a quick and dirty fix for this, or do I have to spring for a new electric clutch?

Thanks in advance,
JimR

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Old 11-13-2009, 11:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

Take a picture for show and tell. Unfortunately you won't be allowed to post as a newbie for awhile so type a link to the other site.

If you had good service from your a/c with 230k miles, either the system is low on R134a or the clutch has worn down to the rivets, the three large buttons you see. Topping off isn't recommended because of uncertainty of the charge and a worn out clutch isn't replaceable unless you have the special tool to separate the clutch from the compressor shaft. These are not usually done as most compressors are worn out and clutch assemblies are half the cost of a rebuilt compressor w/clutch. Then there's the headache of jockeying the attached compressor lines to attempt pulling off the clutch without discharging the system. You're looking at a major repair no matter which way you look at it. Check my pics for a disassembled compressor/clutch. Its more work than its worth and most likely worth replacing the compressor/filter-drier if the system has been perfect all this time. There are no quck and dirty fixes with a/c systems. Just read about all the headaches people have tried to shortcut repairs; do it right or don't do it at all.

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Old 11-14-2009, 12:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Take a picture for show and tell. Unfortunately you won't be allowed to post as a newbie for awhile so type a link to the other site.
AFAIK, n00bs can post to their own gallery here on SF; then an extra "xxxxx's Photos" link appears in the "who posted this" section on the far left <<<<<.

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Old 11-14-2009, 01:08 PM   #4
l0phat
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

After just having AC clutch racket this weekend from a refurb Compressor from advanced auto (2nd POS@ 330$!!!) Although I have not seen the said roofing nails from a guy I trust (ol' timer) who works there, there are some pins which the weights affect (round thingers with rubber on them on the clutch) look very very closely at the clutch and rotate it by hand while looking at the space where the clutch and pulley meet and distance under the weights. There should be a space roughly the size of the edge of a piece of paper all the way around the clutch/pulley perephery. You can gently pry the area wich is rubbing or tap the weights lightly to either get the weights closer to the pulley or the pins to seat or to gain the correct distance between clutch and pulley.. What happened to me was the weight got loose and from centrifugal force changed the distance between clutch and pulley, a little tap tap tap from the hammer on the weight and a slight pull with a very small screw driver on the rim fixed her right up.

...
99 SL2 151K 5 Spd Stock.

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Old 11-15-2009, 12:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

I tried posting the photos, but got frustrated after several failed attempts and weird error messages. I don't think that I can post URLs in my reply, but I will try. If not, I'll also give the text of the URL on IMGUR.

Here are the pictures. Note that in both of these, the engine was running, but by using the flash, I was able to freeze the motion of the compressor clutch.

Shows what I referred to as "pins".
http : // imgur . com / 2uAyx.jpg
Text of URL is imgur dot com slash 2uAyx dot jpg

Does the whole plate that the pins are in look off center?
http : // imgur . com / mnAp6 . jpg
Text of URL is imgur dot com slash mnAp6 dot jpg

What is the danger of this whole assembly falling apart, and the serp belt coming loose so that all other belted things would stop functioning? I am hoping to get rid of the car soon, but I wanted a few more months if I can get it. Worst case, if I keep the car, I could wait until next spring to replace the compressor. If the only downside is the noise, I can put up with it.

Thanks for your help!

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Old 11-15-2009, 12:33 AM   #6
Leafy
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

if you dont feel like fixing it now just go grab the belt for no a/c and put it on. the bolts like 40 bucks.

...
1994 SL2 HCE auto 113 hp 113 lbft (wheel) backup car
2002 Chevy Cavalier SS
For Sale: FlyWheel, Shifter assembly, Clutch Hydros, 1st gen 5 spd PCM. PM me for prices.

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Old 11-15-2009, 11:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

Your compressor looks a little different than mine but yeah those things you call pins are the balance weights. Had the same problem, yeah that is some racket can be a banging rattle sound to a grinding noise I had both until I adjusted the weights correctly.. Look closely at any variations in the gap at http://i.imgur.com/mnAp6.jpg and the space just above or at the weights. But yes your note is correct is this pate off center. Rotate the clutch by hand see if there is a grinding noise try to locate the weight / part of the clutch that is off center and either pry it with a small screw driver or tap it with a ball peen hammer or hammer. Regardless it's mis alignment in the Y or Z plane of the weights. Centrifugal force warps the clutch face. It is truly amazing how mailable the clutch face is. If it's not this you'd hear a literal screeching sound from a spun or jammed bearing. Rotate the clutch it should feel rather effortless.

...
99 SL2 151K 5 Spd Stock.

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Old 11-15-2009, 01:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

Not to be critical but you have a major clutch problem. The clutch plate is broken off those "weights" - they're not weights but very large rivets that attach the clutch plate to the compressor hub. Those three rivets hold the plate to the hub to allow a certain amount of flex along the longitudinal axis of the shaft - the air gap. If the clutch plate were a solid piece attached to the compressor shaft, there wouldn't be enough magnetic force to attract the plate to the spinning pulley face to engage. There are several 'flexure plate' designs, all performing the same function; to allow the clutch plate a certain amount of give in the air gap to engage the compressor pulley when magnetized. If you look in my picture folder you'll see another clutch assembly from a donated compressor. It seems to be solid hub from one side but when looking behind it, there's a second steel grooved plate with three metal dots; those dots are the other side of the three rivets that allows the plate to float the air gap. Some designs have straps on the exterior.

Look at the picture again and you'll see the burrs (highlighted) created from at least one broken rivet. You're on borrowed time and this assembly won't last very long. The only thing holding the floating plate onto the compressor is the flat large clutch hub that's burred all around its edge and maybe one rivet.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg mnAp6.jpg (50.9 KB, 36 views)

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Old 11-16-2009, 03:18 PM   #9
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Thumbs Up Re: Air conditioner clutch racket

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafy View Post
if you dont feel like fixing it now just go grab the belt for no a/c and put it on. the bolts like 40 bucks.
This worked perfectly, thanks Leafy. I really didn't want to sink a bunch of cash into this, since I hope to get a new car within a few months. This was a great solution. The dealer was out of stock on this belt, but I got an after-market at AutoZone for $19.99.

PS - I liked, I only have 208,000 miles on it, not 230,000.

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