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Old 04-17-2015, 11:40 AM   #1
Zsolt
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Default 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Hey guys, how ya'll been? So with summer fast approaching I discovered that the car does not have cold air. I have the 4cyl version with a m/t. I'd like to troubleshoot this issue before jumping the shark. I believe I've identified the compressor location right next to air intake "snorkel" on the bottom front left side of the engine (when facing the car).

However, I cannot tell if the clutch is spinning because of the obstructed view.

1) I'd like to check for 12v going to the compressor, but have no clue which wire to test and how. (while plugged in to the compressor or not)

2) I'd like for someone to help me identify the HP and LP sides of the A/C tubing, as I do have a machine to service the A/C system. ( full flush and re-fill, not the cheap R33 in a can crap)

3) If in-fact I have to replace the compressor, step by step instructions. (yeah I know, but a guy can dream )

A quick FYI....I did check ALL THE FUSES

PICTURES WOULD BE SO HELPFUL!

Thanks So Much!
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Old 04-17-2015, 06:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

If you cannot find a way to view your compressor to see whether or not the compressor is powered up with the engine running, you're not likely to make more efforts necessary to make repairs. Think about it. Are you willing to spend the time to make any attempts to save money to determine and repair this system? Checking for compressor operation and other steps are the least of your efforts. Either check for the clutch engaging (with a loud click when a/c is turned on) or measure the connector for 12 volts. The two pin connector should have 12v on the green wire. No 12v means the compressor was disabled by the pressure sensor protecting the compressor from damage as a result of lost refrigerant. Losing refrigerant from a leak or damage is automatically detected as the pressure sensor detects the low pressure and disables compressor power. Refrigerant circulates oil; no refrigerant - no oil circulation, no oil circulation = no compressor lubrication. If allowed to run without refrigerant, the compressor will destroy itself very quickly.

Below is a drawing showing the two a/c service ports. If you are not familiar with a/c pressure gauge set up and configurations, a fair warning is needed; unfamiliarity with a/c gauges and valve settings can result in an explosion condition when the high pressure valve is left open during pressure monitoring. Complete familiarity is necessary for safe operation of a/c service procedures. To put it bluntly, highest pressures easily exceed 125 psi. HOT and HUMID conditions allows pressures to exceed 250 psi. A safety pressure relief valve releases pressures above 450 psi. In theory, operating pressures can be as high as 400 psi+.

If you aren't aware, a/c hoses and gauges are color coded for safety to prevent incorrect connections. RED for high pressure, BLUE for low pressure/vacuum. Service ports and the quick connect fittings are also sized differently to prevent incorrect connections as another step to prevent the unfamiliar from creating an explosion condition. R12 systems made no provisions against hazards (fittings are the same size) as it was presumed that anyone setting up gauge connections (long before the computer and internet service became available) were already familiar or under direct supervision. Although there are no records of anyone making mistakes resulting in an explosion from mishandling refrigeration gauges, the internet allows more information to anyone, giving a better chance of creating a hazard condition to diyers assuming knowledge of the hazard possibilities by inadvertently leaving valves open during specific procedures. I cannot continue or teach anyone ignoring safety when working on vehicle a/c systems using gauges.

If you did connect gauges and monitored pressures, you'll have to raise engine speed to 2k rpm, the recommended engine speed to make all pressure measurements. Not idle rpm. This isn't a simple diy procedure as some may think. Normal operating pressures; low side is always regulated to between 25-30 psi, high side will vary depending on outside temps but will show between 125-250 psi+. One hint; lower pressures, even a vacuum on the the low side simply indicates the leak that released refrigerant causing loss of cooling, possibly cycling the compressor off and on. No pressures or low pressures/compressor not engaged means the same (in most instances) - lost refrigerant from a leak preventing compressor operation.

Presuming many things about a/c problems avoids the basics of troubleshooting. Once a/c is lost, 98% of all vehicle a/c problems is the leak no one wants to look for but will easily run to the store for the refill kits to..........................refill a leaking system that caused the problem. Similar to refilling a leaking tire without repairing the leak except expensive refrigerant is used to refill a damaged a/c system. WARNING: Do not use sealer unless you accept the eventual costs of overhauling a completely damaged and contaminated system from using sealer.

Before reaching for any refill kit or attempting to connect commercial refrigeration equipment complete with gauges, hoses, quick connect fittings, a 30lb canister of R134a and fully automated controls, try spending a few dollars (unless you have one) on an inexpensive uv blacklight. Use a uv blacklight first to search for the leak - all Saturns came with dye installed and lasts forever in a system. Once a leak occurs, gas, dye and oil leak out to mark the area. Refrigerant evaporates immediately, oil may leave a stain but greenish yellow dye leaves almost a permanent marker to show where a leak occurred. I cannot stress this simple fact; my first time use of my uv blacklight took less than a minute to illuminate dye marking a leak site at night in a Home Depot parking lot. Prior experience with R12 systems, repairs and upgrading to R134a equipment doesn't hold a candle to one inexpensive uv blacklight to find the leak that takes precedence over gauge connections, sealer, and any other presumptions of a/c experience or lack of. Using a simple uv light will find 98% of all vehicle a/c system failures. The other 2% is either a blown clutch coil or hvac evaporator coil damage. Presuming the evap coil hardly fails leaves the clutch coil as a possible failure easily checked by voltage presence on the connection to the compressor or applying 12v directly to the compressor terminals.
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File Type: jpg compressor.jpg (35.7 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg ac gauge connections.jpg (147.7 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg ac compressor dwg.jpg (195.6 KB, 9 views)

Last edited by fdryer; 04-17-2015 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 04-20-2015, 12:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Thanks so much for your help so far. When I posted this I was very flustered and wanted and answer from god basically. But after some reading and your post I've got this so far.

The clutch does not spin when the A/C button is activated.
I bought a HP and LP A/C pressure gauge/refill kit.
The Pressure on the High side was low (around 70PSI) and the pressure on the low side was around (100 PSI)
I made sure that the hoses were purged of air with R134a with UV.
Checked for leaks, none were present. (used a black light and yellow glasses)'

I checked for the 3 prong by the HP port. I had a ground, +5 and -5 V.
I checked for the 12 volts by the pump...and had nothing. Checked all fuses again, and the AC diode. All were fine.

Whats my next step?
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Old 04-20-2015, 12:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Are those pressures measured when the engine was stopped, idling or at 2k rpm? With computer controls, the engine must run when a/c is turned on; with engine off and a/c turned on, the pcm will not power the compressor because it knows not to load the engine down for starting. Once the engine is started, a/c already turned on, there's a momentary delay before the compressor is allowed to power up. For testing 12v power to the compressor, the engine should be running before checking for voltage at the compressor connections. I can post a wiring diagram if you are comfortable with acrostic I schematic drawings.
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Old 04-20-2015, 01:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

I tested for pressure at idle. However, the compressor never kicked on even at 2,000 rpm +

I did not test for the 12V at 2000 rpm...only on idle.

I will do so and report back tonight.

Also, is there any merit to me vacuuming the system of all refrigerant and refilling it?

I was going to apply 12 volt to the compressor manually with a power probe, is that okay?

Ohh and yea, I'm totally cool with schematics
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Advanced troubleshooting, where you are presently, needs specific procedures like keeping in mind the need to have the engine running before a/c is allowed to run. Older engines without EFI simply allowed the compressor to power up if the a/c was turned on or left on after engine shutdown. Power to the compressor drains the battery but no one paid attention when all they wanted was a/c NOW. Most would hear the distinctive click from the compressor clutch engaging whether the engine was running or not. I would imagine all EFI systems with computer engine management uses a simple program to determine whether the engine is running or not to disable a/c until the engine runs, using the engine speed signal (crank sensor).

If you do not see the compressor spinning with a/c on (engine idling), there's no need to check for 12v at 2k rpm. Measuring the three pin pressure sensor connector does two things; disable compressor operation due to sensor disconnect and readings will be incorrect as it isn't connected to the sensor. The sensor is technically a pressure transducer transmitting varied voltage signals in proportion to varied pressures. Disconnecting the sensor does nothing and measuring for voltage just tells you voltage is present and does not tell you sensor operation. To determine sensor operation would be to measure signal output with the sensor connected - piercing the insulation on the signal wire with a high impedance voltmeter. Most (digital) multimeters are high impedance and safe for this. Although this is the method to measure sensor output, its not something to be concerned about - to date no one has ever demonstrated without a doubt a faulty a/c pressure sensor. Whether two wire or three, very few understand the simplicity of pressure sensors and tend to blame the sensor for a/c failure. The truth is the loss of refrigerant caused the problem; lower than normal pressures detected from this sensor and signals the engine computer to disable compressor power. When repairs or the quickie refill is done to fill a system with enough gas to raise pressures above approximately 40 psi, the sensor detects this and signals the engine computer to allow compressor power. The sensor is simply doing its job to protect the compressor from lack of refrigerant. Blaming the pressure sensor has always been the whipping boy of vehicle a/c systems. When you measured pressures well above the minimums (>40 psi) the pressure sensor already signaled the pcm to allow compressor power. The problem is determining what went wrong.

When the a/c system is not running, pressures on low and high side level out so readings should be the same. Once the compressor runs, pressures change immediately as two pressures appear except when failure occurs. The majority of problems are the loss of refrigerant from a leak, releasing refrigerant until the pressure sensor detects it and disables compressor operation.

There's still something missing in your diagnosis with questionable information. Be sure the a/c fuse is intact and not blown. Remove it for inspection as some didn't find a blown fuse by glancing casually at it until physically removing blade fuses to find a blown one. And pay attention to the diode - polarity means everything as inserting it incorrectly can result in blowing the a/c fuse. The diode is protecting the a/c relay contacts from arcing effects when a/c is turned off. Try substituting the relay with a similar one (horn?).

BY all means, if you can apply 12v power to the compressor, do it. This helps to test the compressor clutch coil.
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Very well written. Thank You!

I completely follow you on all points.

However, I've checked the fuses with a multi-meter. (pulled them out naturally)

The Diode is also sound, and directionally correct. (I get that it's pretty much the one way valve of electronics)

The relay was swapped with the horn, both the horn still work and the A/C still does not.

BTW: the one fuse I did not check was the High Temp fuse that according to the Diagram is located on the Compressor. But I have no clue as to where it is....

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Old 04-20-2015, 03:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Unfortunately, the high temperature fuse may be confusing and distracting. In the first place, 12 volts isn't on the compressor connection and this thermal fuse has no bearing on your situation. Using a power probe or 12v wire to power the compressor will test this thermal fuse or measuring coil resistance will do the same. This thermal fuse protects the clutch coil against an over heated compressor running well above operating temps, like internal damage or over filling a system with refrigerant creating higher than normal operating pressures. High side pressures can run close to 250 psi+ and anyone over filling a system in hopes of getting colder air simply forces the compressor to higher operating pressures that causes more heat. This thermal fuse protects the compressor and acts as a safety device. This is getting off the path as the simplest test is to apply power to the coil; either the coil powers up and you'll see/hear the clutch plate click against the pulley or not.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Alrighty, I'll apply power to the coil and report back. Thanks for all your help thus far!
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Old 05-04-2015, 12:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Sorry for the long wait...things came up...such is life. However, I applied power to the compressor directly, and it sprang to life. So now what? I saw on the last schematic that the BCM provides some sort of power to the A/C system. And I just had my BCM replaced with a brand new one, and re-programmed. Should this be something I look into?
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Old 05-04-2015, 01:40 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

The bcm is most likely fine and not the problem. If you can read wiring diagrams and can probe test points for voltage, a brief description of the hvac control system may help with troubleshooting.

When pressing the button to turn on a/c, a signal is sent to the bcm to request a/c. The bcm responds, when all conditions are met, by sending a ground signal to power on the a/c relay. Powering the a/c relay solenoid closes a set of electrical contacts sending 12v to power the compressor clutch coil with the engine providing mechanical power to run the compressor.
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:30 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Well on a hunch, I took my newly programmed BCM out, and inserted my troubled old BCM that would eventually short and leave me with no instrument and interior lights amongst others. But guess what

THE OLD BCM fixed the A/C issue.
I then replaced it again and the "NEW BCM" made it dead...again.
So...in closing. I will be buying another BCM...yet again.

I love how the BCM on this car fixes/breaks 90% of all issues

Thank You for all of your help!

Cheers!
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Old 05-05-2015, 01:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Great! Your hunches trumps mine, period!? Unless it's demonstrated without doubt, I was under the presumption that a 'newly' programmed bcm (done by GM) would not cause an issue with a/c use. That's what I get for presuming GM did it right. I'd be talking to GM about this since you clearly demonstrated the before and after scenarios of switching bcm's around with unexpected results to verify your suspicions.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

Yeah I'm pretty tweaked by the scenario. I never realized until your schematic that this may be the case. Since my BCM issues happened during the winter months..(nature's A/C). But as an IT tech I've seen some weird cases of new (good) parts causing new (bad) issues. So I figured what the heck...I managed to get my hands on a field BCM from my friend's junkyard last night, and once more I confirmed that the issue is with my (brand new "rockauto") BCM. As the A/C worked with even that unit. And stopped working once I placed the faulty one in. I got on the phone with rockauto however and they will replace the BCM at no charge, though I will still have to pay the GM dealer again for using his holy TECH II to reprogram it. Though having 0 miles on the car does sound tempting to skip the process.


Anyhow, thanks for all your help. It was really your schematics that caused the spark in my head.
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Old 05-06-2015, 01:06 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

When reviewing this entire post, it wasn't apparent that you had bcm issues until mentioning problems with the instrument panel. Its even more difficult to point to bcm issues as it controls many functions unrelated to engine management, the EFI system (that's mainly a pcm function). It helped a great deal having IT experience in electronics to separate mechanical a/c issues from electronic control problems. I'll have to try giving out less verbiage to interact better. Putting people to sleep is easy for me when talking or writing...............

Did using the original bcm fix the intermittent instrument panel problems or do you have to wait for winter to return?
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Old 05-06-2015, 01:57 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2003 L200 A/C Issue

I don't even think I eluded to the BCM issue until the end. That was a post when I first got the car. But yeah that had to be fixed initially as eventually, after all the flickering and gremlins, all my internal lights, fuel gauge, water temp, mileage, wiper speeds 1 and 2, defroster, traction control, key-fob, automatic locks and trunk button all stopped working. As far as the "old broken" bcm is concerned, it brought my A/C back to life until it shut itself off disabling all the above as well as the A/C. Hence my borrowing one from my buddies junkyard to confirm. And now with the new BCM on the way I'm sure this will be the end of it.

As far as the panel problems, and all the others. The new BCM fixed virtually everything. Including a weird issue I had with ABS. (the pedal would kick like a mule on hard brakes as it would try to apply ABS, but with the new BCM it went back to being smooth and not loud)

So as I'm starting to learn, there's more to the BCM than I first thought, it's literally the car's soul.

And if I were you, I wouldn't be too concerned with the verbiage, you give very sound, well thought out advice. And like myself, you always caution the potential person who knows just enough to get them into more trouble than the professional fix would have cost. I appreciate that, and personally, I can tell the difference.

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