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Old 06-16-2018, 08:09 PM   #1
Bearded1mx3
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Default 97 sl1 ac problems

I have a 97 sl1 manual. It's got 220k on it. I need to fix my ac finally. When I press the ac button I get no light. I've yet to pull apart the dash to see if maybe the plug has worked it's way loose. I hope that's the case but if not is there another direction I can go. Is this a common problem. What things should I check and how. I hate electrical and not very learned kn the ways of A/C. Any help is greatly appreciated because it is a steady 105+ in vegas til prolly August.

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Old 06-16-2018, 08:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: 97 sl1 ac problems

The A/C is controlled by the PCM, all the button does is beg the PCM to give you A/C. If the light doesn't come on, the PCM has decided (mainly on the high-side pressure switch reading) that you don't get A/C. It could need anything from a simple recharge to total system overhaul/replace.

Grab a blacklight and move it around the engine bay focusing on the A/C lines, if you see any glowing bits it means there was a leak there that more than likely hasn't fixed itself and requires a few $$$$ to replace parts.

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Old 06-16-2018, 09:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: 97 sl1 ac problems

^ Well said. The most inexpensive tool to use first before anyone suggests anything else - a uv blacklight. The most common ac problem the world over? The leak no one wants to find but runs to the store for refill kits to refill................a leaking system that was sealed when it left the factory. Find the leak from dye using a uv light first then determine how to make repairs.

Your ac problem isn't electrical at all. Its a leak that makes many chase problems that don't exist. And leave the questions about gauges and vacuum pump for later, after you find the source of the leak. Dye glows under uv light (greenish yellow).

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Old 06-18-2018, 11:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: 97 sl1 ac problems

So I guess you're saying that uv-dye is installed within the AC systems of all '97 Saturns? I have a '97 SW1, and so I'll go out now and buy a uv black light. Thanks.

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Old 06-18-2018, 12:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: 97 sl1 ac problems

Quote:
So I guess you're saying that uv-dye is installed within the AC systems of all '97 Saturns?
Yes, became standard.

Also check under your AC caps at the Schrader valves. Your leak could be anywhere, but both of mine were the valve cores themselves. Slow leak, worked fine one year, leaked out over the winter, and no AC next year. You can buy new cores/covers in a kit for about $4, if you are lucky and that's where your leak is

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
^ Well said. The most inexpensive tool to use first before anyone suggests anything else

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Old 06-21-2018, 01:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: 97 sl1 ac problems

I've had issues with 2 pressure switches in the past.

I think there is a schrader valve under the switch so you can replace it easily. Don't quote me on that though i cant remember.

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Old 06-21-2018, 05:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: 97 sl1 ac problems

^ You may be mistaken, twice, presuming ac pressure switches fail. They don't, period. To prove it requires you to pressurize the pressure switch above 40 psi and measure resistance. Below approximately 40 psi in Saturn S-series ac systems, most of the refrigerant has leaked out so the pressure switch sends a signal to the pcm to disable compressor power. The LEAK no one wants to find and repair is the reason for the pressure sensor operating. Above 40 psi the sensor sends a signal to the pcm to allow compressor power. In case you're not familiar with ac system pressures, at standby/no ac, system pressures reflect ambient temperatures so at 75F/75 psi, 95F/95 psi. In warm months, standing pressures will always be above 40 psi. In winter when temps go below 40F, the pressure sensor will detect lower pressures and disable compressor operation - who needs ac when its 40F outside? Once pressure go above approximately 40 psi, the pressure sensor tells the pcm its ok to power the compressor.

Its difficult to convince anyone the ac pressure sensor is not the problem because once its replaced, either the system was already low on refrigerant and repaired with a fresh recharge of refrigerant that brings pressures above 40 psi is automatically detected by the pressure sensor to allow compressor operation. The repairs and recharging of refrigerant raising pressures is sensed by the pressure sensor. Lose refrigerant where pressures drop below 40 psi and the sensor disables compressor operation. The suggestion of bypassing the sensor with a paper clip simply verifies the sensor is working and the compressor will power up. This also verifies the system lost refrigerant............from a leak that was detected by the pressure sensor. All ac pressure sensors do one thing and only one thing; protect the compressor against self destruction when refrigerant is lost.

Losing refrigerant also means losing lubrication. Compressed refrigerant becomes a liquid and refrigerant oil circulates with liquid refrigerant. Oil circulates freely throughout a system. Lose refrigerant and oil won't circulate back to return and lube the compressor. If it wasn't for the pressure sensor disabling power, the compressor would continually run and eventually run dry of oil and destroy itself, quickly. The pressure sensor prevents this from occurring. 98% of all vehicle ac system failures are about leaks. Find and fix the leak and ac can be restored without guessing on other parts failing.

If you have a pressure sensor lying around, pressurize the sensor above 40 psi and you're likely to find it working. If I'm not mistaken, pressure opens the switch, 40 psi or less closes the switch. A simple continuity test verifies pressure sensors but pressure is needed to open the switch, the operating mode when an operating ac system has a full charge of refrigerant.

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