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Old 05-22-2022, 05:08 AM   #1
JMantis
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Default 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

Picked up my second Saturn last year. The A/C doesn't work, which is fine because it doesn't get too hot in Seattle.

However, I plan to move to Kentucky (where it gets oppressively hot and humid for months at a time) and I want take the SL1 with me. So I started researching A/C stuff. Following RichPin's A/C troubleshooting video helped a lot: A/C Troubleshooting(part1)of 2

Creating a short circuit on the pressure switch for a splitsecond confirmed that the compressor had power.
I charged the system up to see if the pressure switch would turn the compressor on, and it did. I charged it to the proper volume and the a/c was blowing at 54 degrees. Very cool! I then drove for about 2 hours, planning to check for leaks later.

The next day I got my UV lamp and inspected for leaks. The compressor itself leaks from several areas.







There are no other leaks visible in the system. Predictably, the system stopped engaging the compressor after a week or so.
So it would appear that replacing the compressor is a viable solution. The Comp Num listed on my compressor is DCV-11A. However, Rockauto and other sites also list DKV-11A , DCV-11G, DCV-14G, as well as some other models of compressors as fitting the 97 SL1. This is a point of confusion for me. Will these other models/styles work for my 97 SL1, or do I need the precisely the Model DCV-11A Compressor?

My Compressor Decal


Regards,
Jesse Mazur
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Old 05-22-2022, 08:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

Great pics. When I fixed my 2000 Buick Century AC, I pulled a compressor from a junkyard car that had pressure in the system. When I fix my '98 SC2 I'll do the same. It's an option.
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Old 05-22-2022, 02:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

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Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
Great pics. When I fixed my 2000 Buick Century AC, I pulled a compressor from a junkyard car that had pressure in the system. When I fix my '98 SC2 I'll do the same. It's an option.
I appreciate this advice. In fact, it is something I would do if it were possible. In Washington State there are rigorous EPA statutes for refridgerant recovery. Also the sale of small canisters of R 134A to unlicenced individuals was just made illegal last month. Otherwise, I would go for this route.

I am wondering about the Model #s though. Are they interchangable? The information on RockAuto is self-contradicting.
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Old 05-22-2022, 03:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

I can't answer your specific question, about alternate compressor P/Ns, but suggest your clean the outside of the compressor with solvent and check again with the UV. I suspect that leakage is from the I/O hose connections, not the compressor itself.
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

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I can't answer your specific question, about alternate compressor P/Ns, but suggest your clean the outside of the compressor with solvent and check again with the UV. I suspect that leakage is from the I/O hose connections, not the compressor itself.
Leaky GM compressors are a thing.
...
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'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
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Old 05-22-2022, 08:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

While I know very little about compressor areas that normally leak the locations of the dye leaves me wondering if perhaps a $2 AC O-ring kit could possibly remedy the problem?
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Old 05-22-2022, 10:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

Question for the experts: A person owns a Saturn that has multiple AC system leaks, fixes the leaks then you buy the vehicle with working AC.

Some time later the AC springs a leak, you look under the hood and see multiple UV dye areas.

How do you determine which one is the new leak?
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Old 05-23-2022, 06:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

Clean off the dye with acetone, recharge the system, maybe add a little more dye, and let it leak again.
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'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 05-24-2022, 04:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: 97 SL 1 Compressor Leaks

JMantis and C52, try cleaning off as much visible (under uv light) dye then inspect a day or two later. Under system pressure, a can of r134a sitting on a shelf would have between 50-70 psi so a vehicle on standby should have similar pressure (lower in cooler temps, higher in hot temps). Any leak will release refrigerant, oil and dye to mark the area of a leak, slowly or quickly. Use a uv light during cleaning to see how much is removed so you have an idea of residual dye. This will help if a leak continues with fresh dye marking the leak source. Oil and dye are permanently mixed but oil is more or less clear so dye is the only marker to find the source of a leak. Be sure to look over, around and under the entire ac system with a uv light. Ac repairs are unforgiving of mistakes.

To address licensing/certification, the EPA enacted regulations governing handling refrigerants to minimize illegal release of refrigerants deemed harmful to the ozone layer. Historically, r12 was invented by Dupont in 1931 - 91 years of it attacking the ozone layer. Mankind is slow to acknowledging damage to this little orb we call Earth. The Motor Vehicle AC 609 certification is a 25 question open book exam for anyone to learn about handling refrigerants, legal and illegal issues and consequences, to become certified for buying refrigerants. I have the MVAC certification to buy r34a but wasn't asked to produce it when buying a surplus 80 lb canister from a GM dealer disposing of its inventory on ebay. Regulations required the seller to request buyers to produce their MVAC 609 certificate. Auto stores in NYC never asked for MVAC 609 for their 12oz cans of r134a or large canisters of a popular "mechanic in a can". Once it was determined that EPA cannot enforce who buys r134a, it became moot to police every store stocking 12oz cans of r134a. Other states are more pro active with one state requiring a self sealing version of the 12oz can of r134a. I still see plenty of r134a on store shelves in my neighborhood and no one asking for the certificate. No warning signage to produce the MVAC 609 certificate.

Each state have their rules as far as compliance with EPA regulations. The test to become certified is relatively easy with a no time limit open book online test. Once a test is passed, it's permanent and a card is presented to refrigerant distributors to buy refrigerant.

Whether legal or illegal, vehicle ac systems are always prone to damage from crashes, wear and tear, anyone attempting diy repairs and the eventual leak that occurs to 98% of vehicles. A leak or catastrophic damage releasing refrigerant, oil and dye are inevitable. Having MVAC 609 certification simply means every repair shop in business is legally required to have reclamation canisters to remove and store refrigerant, not release it into the atmosphere. This applies to every HVAC business servicing small/medium/large ac systems for homes and businesses. Wasteful release of refrigerants is handled better with certification to understand how wasteful we are and reducing it as much as possible.
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