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Old 02-05-2008, 06:01 PM   #1
d16tr
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Default A/C quit working

Hi,

Just realized that the A/C of my 95 SW2 (233K) is not working. Don't know since when, as I haven't touched it in the last 2 months.

So where/what can I check before taking the car to the shop? I noticed the A/C clutch is not engaging, is there a fuse I should check?
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Old 02-05-2008, 06:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: A/C quit working

fdryer is the local expert on A/C systems. Unfortunately, they're not easy or cheap to fix most of the time. He has some good reading material on the subject.
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: A/C quit working

I'm the local quack, yes, expert(?), how can that be when all I get are a few bread crumbs for my efforts? Oh, wait, I forgot, ducks don't cry and big girls don't cry. Can a duck be in love with Fergie?

d, you might want to idle away some of your time with some light reading; http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80107. Basically, if you had a/c last year and now don't, (get ready) you have a leak and acquiring as much information as you can cram between your ears goes a long way to saving time and aggravation down the road. In other words, the more you know..............................................
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: A/C quit working

fdryer, it's definitely a good piece of information in the link there, alas all it tells me is I am on my way to the shop. I thought I could check a fuse or something because when I turn on the A/C there's no reaction whatsoever from the engine or anything, just keeps blowing air.

The last time I used the A/C was probably 2-3 months ago and it was running with no problems. So, apparently, in the mean time I got a leak and it drained all my refrigerant liquid.

Thanks for the good info though!
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:33 PM   #5
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Yeah, if you even consider a DIY job, from what I've read here (I'm no expert either!) is that most of the time it is a problem with the compressor.
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Old 02-06-2008, 12:02 AM   #6
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Happy Re: A/C quit working

you should use your A/C for 10 mins every 3 weeks to keep the seals and what not lubricated.
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:28 AM   #7
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Default Re: A/C quit working

You can find some consolation in that your '95 uses R-134A not R-12 like slightly older S-series. That make$ a lot of difference in the co$t of repair$.
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXSaturn02 View Post
Yeah, if you even consider a DIY job, from what I've read here (I'm no expert either!) is that most of the time it is a problem with the compressor.
I don't know where this rumor came from but compressor failures aren't regular occurrences contributing to a/c problems. There are however failures with stress cracks on the soft aluminum tubing from the majority of drivers not realizing that any modification to suspension systems creates situations that allow severe vibrations to travel throughout a car winding up vibrating and shaking a/c system plumbing to the point of rupturing. This is accelerated by the little known fact that half the a/c system, the front end condenser coil, is under extreme high pressure approaching 250psi whenever
the a/c is running. Yes, 250 psi when the a/c is on, and all the road vibrations eventually transmit to flex the aluminum tubing until stress cracks undo a perfectly good system. Loosening of fittings occurs due to the heat/cooling cycle when refrigerant temperatures go from ambient to 200F and back. Expansion/contraction from heat generated and road vibration is the enemy of every a/c system in every car and truck.
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Old 02-06-2008, 12:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1994Saturn View Post
you should use your A/C for 10 mins every 3 weeks to keep the seals and what not lubricated.
Um, keeping one's what-not lubricated is DEF'ly beyond the scope of these forums....

I've heard the same thing about "off-season" A/C maintenance, but the conundrum is, what if, like a large part of the country, you're someplace where it doesn't get above 40F for weeks and weeks?
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Old 02-06-2008, 12:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Um, keeping one's what-not lubricated is DEF'ly beyond the scope of these forums....

I've heard the same thing about "off-season" A/C maintenance, but the conundrum is, what if, like a large part of the country, you're someplace where it doesn't get above 40F for weeks and weeks?
LOL. I was actually thinking about how hard that would be up "north". I do try to run my A/C for a few minutes every week in the winter. It gets up to 70 here regularly in the winter.
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Hi,

Ok, I took the car for a regular oil change and asked the mechanic to check the A/C. He did and told me that the compressor is bad, and will need a dryer as well. He also told me it could be an orifice or something that assumes the function of an orifice (he is good on cars but not a Saturn expert). I asked why he thinks the compressor is gone and he said the pressures before and after the compressor are almost the same, which to me makes sense (e.g. there must be some pressure difference that's why it is a "compressor").

So, how do I go now? After this initial diagnosis do I need further investigation or just get a new compressor and dryer? Is there an orifice on my car or is it something else there like a valve or something?
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:21 PM   #12
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Default Re: A/C quit working

As others have mentioned in other a/c threads, I'd check the blend door or the blower fan (under the glove box) for debris. After that, I'm not sure what to tell you.
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: A/C quit working

From the description you've given, I'm afraid this mechanic isn't an a/c qualified refrigeration specialist based on the following; how is anyone able to tell you that a compressor and drier are needed just because the "before and after pressures are almost the same"? Did you know that a leak will have the exact same results? A fully operating a/c system will have a low and high side pressure, measured using a set of a/c manifold gauges displaying approximately 40psi and 185-250psi+. When a leak, rupture, or loose fitting allows refrigerant to leak out the compressor doesn't have refrigerant to compress. No refrigerant to compress = no differential pressures between the low side or the high side!? Maybe this mechanic wants to empty your wallet. Has he demonstrated any leak detection technique to assure you that a leak doesn't exist? Perhaps you'd be better off trying another repair shop that specializes in a/c repairs. The better ones may even show you where the problem is rather than quote a price w/o basis of time spent actually inspecting the entire a/c system visually, taking no more than 1/2 an hour. That's just my opinion.
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:08 PM   #14
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Hi,

fdryer, I agree with you, he is not an A/C specialist, and he definitely didn't push me on buying a part or on doing anything. At this point I am not being able to say anything either because I inspected all the hoses etc. to the best of my knowledge and ability and I don't see a leak, all the hoses look completely dry. I will have to take the car to a shop specializing on A/C's.

Meanwhile, is there anything that I can do to check if the compressor itself is good?
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:26 PM   #15
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Not in a practical sense as the best troubleshooting method is a thorough going over of the entire a/c plumbing system in the engine area as the most likely damage is there. If you have the time, go over this past weeks threads of a/c damage to see visual evidence of damage from a piece of black foam insulation that acts as a bumper against vibration, in a soft bend, that collected salt spray eventually corroding the aluminum tubing until it cracked. The visual evidence is a greenish corrosion from the factory leak detector in the form of a fluorescent dye that glows under UV light but visible in regular light. The owner posted two pictures, located by the condenser coil/filter/drier area. Its very visible and the cause of the leak.
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:18 PM   #16
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Quote:
Originally Posted by d16tr View Post
...I thought I could check a fuse or something because when I turn on the A/C there's no reaction whatsoever from the engine or anything, just keeps blowing air.

The last time I used the A/C was probably 2-3 months ago and it was running with no problems. So, apparently, in the mean time I got a leak and it drained all my refrigerant liquid.
I know for sure that my A/C system has a leak because I have a manifold guage set that tells me I have about 2 PSI in there! But I would say in your case, if it was working and blowing cold just a couple of months ago, the fuse and/or relay are more likely and should definitely be checked. Probably your fuse is at the inside fuse box by the passenger's leg and the relay is out in the junction box under the hood.

To test the pressure switch (that is if it won't switch on because of low refrigerant pressure), you CAN jumper that switch for a moment and see what happens. Some folks will tell you not to do this because lack of refrigerant can damage the compressor. I say just stick the jumper on there for a second to see if the compressor engages, the release. The switch should be right in the line near the under hood junction box.
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Old 02-13-2008, 12:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Thanks bobbyrae for the suggestions, I checked the fuses and they all look OK. Don't know how to check relay(s).

Went to Autozone here and a guy there sent me to a shop where he said there's a "specialist on A/C's". The "specialist" guy without checking any pressures or fuses or anything told me the "clutch was stuck" and the total repair would cost $912 and some cents.

Now, I will pass that offer, but what is the "stuck clutch" thing?
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Old 02-13-2008, 02:29 PM   #18
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Quote:
Originally Posted by d16tr View Post
Don't know how to check relay(s).

Went to Autozone here and a guy there sent me to a shop where he said there's a "specialist on A/C's". The "specialist" guy without checking any pressures or fuses or anything told me the "clutch was stuck" and the total repair would cost $912 and some cents.

Now, I will pass that offer, but what is the "stuck clutch" thing?
1-Checking relays can be one of two ways, either simply substitute it with a known good one like the horn relay or buy a new one.

2-An a/c clutch works only in one of two ways; engaged or disengaged or powered up and operating or powered off. If I'm not mistaken, a supposedly "stuck clutch" to me means there's a mechanical bind that keeps the clutch engaged all the time, never needing power to run it and the a/c cooling all the time. In my very brief life on this planet, I've never heard or can imagine a stuck clutch operating 100% of the time without power to electrically magnetize the clutch coil that pulls in the circular plate attached to the compressor shaft. If I'm wrong on the interpretation, then it can only be the opposite of what I described, that is, the clutch is stuck in the off/permanently disengaged position and never allowing the a/c compressor to operate. If this were to occur, from a mechanical malfunction, then simple testing can confirm it. Anybody with the minimum mechanical skills can find out if there's mechanical binding preventing a stuck clutch from engaging.

A/C compressor clutches can fail electrically as there's an internal fuse for the electric coil that will blow if an overcurrent condition shorts out the coil. The fuse (5A)will blow before the main a/c fused line, 20-30 amps(?) to protect the main line power. With my limited knowledge, I've never come across any information od blown coil fuses as they are one time events requiring replacing the clutch assembly. A/C clutch coils are so dependable that they rarely if ever fail, electrically or mechanically. The easiest test for any elecrtric a/c clutch is to simply apply 12v directly to the wiring harness emanating from the clutch assembly area. There's either a single lead or two leads; the single lead uses 12v on the wire and the other end of the coil simply grounds to the compressor/engine block. The two-wire connector just uses a separate ground wire; any of the two leads to the compressor can be supplied 12v while the other lead is simply grounded. In both cases, the clutch coil will immediately magnetize and a loud metallic "click" will be heard coming from the front of the compressor pulley. If observed while applying power, you can visually see the center round portion of the clutch disc move inwards towards the pulley a fraction of an inch. Applying and releasing power several times will have the clutch engage and disenagage. Doing this simple task confirms an operating clutch assembly just as pressing the a/c button does in the dash panel. This does not verify whether or not refrigerant is in the system, the amount available or if an electrical problem exists. There will be suggestions of bypassing a low pressure switch to accomplish the same effect, to apply power to the clutch but simply wiring the 12v directly to the clutch wiring will be easier and eliminate confusion. Hand twisting the center portion of the compressor will allow turning the compressor, little resistance will be felt and turning should be easy. You've just completed troubleshooting a compressor "stuck clutch" symptom and made a liar of this "specialist".
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Old 02-13-2008, 03:23 PM   #19
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Quote:
Originally Posted by d16tr View Post
Hi,

Just realized that the A/C of my 95 SW2 (233K) is not working. Don't know since when, as I haven't touched it in the last 2 months.

So where/what can I check before taking the car to the shop? I noticed the A/C clutch is not engaging, is there a fuse I should check?
You most likely are low on freon. When low, the clutch will not engage.

Our 98 SC2 leaks a bit of freon and needs a charge every 6 mo or so. Yours may also. If you take it to the shop they will want to repair the compressor or something else because they are bound by nutty emmissions laws to minimize loss of flurocarbons.

Go to the auto parts store and buy a recharge kit and a few cans of freon.

Here is the trick: You have to jumper the clutch to make the compressor run to charge the system. Just pull off the connector to the compressor clutch and put a jumper wire on it. Don't connect it to the battery yet. Read the instructions on the charging kit and connect up the charge hose, tap the can, but don't open the valve yet. Start the engine, connect the jumper to the "+" battery terminal then open the tap to the freon can. See let the engine run for about 3 minutes until the can is empty, pull off the charge hose and turn off the engine. Put the connector back on the compressor, start the engine, and see if it engages on its own. If repeat with one more can. Once the compressor runs on its own, you need to check the pressure.

Buy a kit that comes with a guage and read the directions to check the pressure. If the system is within range. leave it alone.

DO NOT over charge the system. Too much refrigerant will actually make the air hotter rather than colder. The trick is to get the minium pressure within the range. If you have a leak, you can push up to the top of the range, but you will lose a little cooling power.

I have been adding 2-3 cans a year for 3 years and the air is ice cold and works great. Cost: about $30.00 for the recharge kit, and about $ 5.00 per can of freon.

Ken
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Old 02-14-2008, 06:03 PM   #20
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Default Re: A/C quit working

Hey fdryer and KenCary, these are truly 2 wonderful pieces of info.

Ken, I may try the method you described, and if I do, what chances am I taking, or said otherwise, what can go wrong other than adding too much freon?
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