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Old 07-21-2018, 06:33 AM   #1
Hiram_32
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Default 02 SL2: No AC

For as long as I have had my 02 SL2 (5yrs), the car has not had AC, and I do ton of driving. What diagnostic steps should I take to suss out the culprit? Should I simply start by charging the AC? Or should I start somewhere else entirely?

156k miles on engine.

As always, feedback, advice, and solutions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Last edited by Hiram_32; 07-21-2018 at 06:36 AM.. Reason: Forgot to add year and model. =P

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Old 07-21-2018, 08:01 AM   #2
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2001 SL1
Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Does the AC compressor clutch engage when the AC button is pressed (presumably the switch light also comes ON)?
If so, you at least have some refrigerant in the system.
If not, then it might be helpful to use a UV light and determine where the system has sprung a leak(s).

Throwing a can of R134a into it without knowing what's wrong is a waste of $$.

Do you have a friend with a full set of refrigeration gauges and a vacuum pump? If not, then if you are handy and want to learn how to correctly do AC repairs, stay tuned...otherwise, the next step is to ask around and determine who in your area does a good job with AC repairs.

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Old 07-21-2018, 10:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

I was going to ask the same question. I have multiple Saturns to fix the AC on.

I bought the manifold gauge and vacuum pump at HF.

I have bought a blacklight but there is dye spread everywhere over time. I think I should clean off the existing dye and start with a new can of dye? How do you clean the dye off?

I've bought a bunch of shraedder valves and o rings. I've replaced the valves in my 01 SL2 because those looked bad (one had no cap and was oxidized).

So I have (all with about 150K miles)
1) an 01 SL2 empty system. Purchased a month ago, don't know history.
2) a 99 system still has R134. Worked (barely) 2 years ago. When putting in new R134, the clutch engages but doesn't cool. R134 is always leaking out slowly.
3) a 99 SL2 parts car. AC worked great when retired 2 years ago, no longer working. Likely R134 has leaked out.

I'm going to try getting 1) and 2) working today.

I've read a lot of threads. Some people flush components with naptha? Pull a 30mg vacuum and see if it will hold for several days?

Wish me luck.

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Old 07-21-2018, 11:50 AM   #4
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Whatever you do, don't put in any stop-leak! That is a short-term gimmick that may temporarily get the system working, but will cause many problems in the future. Any actual repair, not just charging the system, will require removing that stop-leak and can be a real (expensive) chore. I recently went to my FLAPS to get can of R134a with dye, and found they had no small cans (didn't ask about the 30# jug) without stop-leak. I had to get a small bottle of dye concentrate and add it alone. Be wary, read the cans...

Using one of those charge kits that connect only to the low side, with a very crude gauge, is a "Hail Mary" play. Unless you are really lucky, you will be needing a gauge set and a real vacuum pump (not a hand pump), as well as any parts that need replacing. Having "dye spread everywhere" is not a good omen.

I'm kind of speaking to two "OP"s here, so some info may not apply to one or the other.

PS: You will never get 30" Hg vacuum; 29.92 is pretty much a perfect vacuum and the mechanical pumps used for refrigeration probably struggle to get past 29.5 Then, there is gauge accuracy. What you are reading on the typical mechanical vacuum gauge isn't terribly close to reality. Use a good pump and see what it will get all by itself, not connected to the A/C system. Then shoot for pumping the A/C down to the same level and see if it holds over a period of time. Right now I'm working on one that I suspect has a leak, but only drops from about 29" to 28" in 36 hours. I'm going to charge it, see if the system is otherwise functional, and look for leaks with the new slug of dye in it.

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Old 07-21-2018, 12:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Hiram_32, five years without ac use and 156k miles means one of two things; ac leaked out and dye marked where leaks occurred or they faded after a few years. You have two choices to chase leaks and they're leaks (whether from damage or normal wear and tear); buy and use a uv blacklight to find dye marking where leaks occurred or work blindly and waste a can of refrigerant or two and find out the hard/expensive way to find leaks as new refrigerant leaks out. Your choice. Personally, my first leak with r134a systems was found in less than a minute, hidden from view, with a uv light - ten years of great ac use and it finally gave up is all the info I need to know a leak caused the ac loss of cooling. A hose and condenser coil were marked with dye and can't be found any other way without a uv light. More expensive electronic sniffers can but I can't justify buying one when a uv light tells all. Dye is already in Saturns to make it easy for almost anyone to find a damaged system without throwing away money on band aids with refrigerant and sealer. There are no money back guarantees with sealer and possibly more expensive repairs when sealer contaminates a system and can seal in the wrong places, internal passages in compressors and anywhere in a system. Any air and moisture drawn into a system can set off sealer....... amateur mistakes with an expensive repair bill. If you are lucky, use a uv light and cannot find any traces of dye anywhere except at the service valves, the valves themselves may be leaking and simply replaced. In any repair to ac systems, an electric vacuum pump and refrigeration gauges are needed to complete repairs. If you make repairs and cannot perform the final procedures then almost any ac shop can finish the job at much lower cost, between $50-$125. If you choose too diy then you'll need to learn how to use gauges, pump and admitting refrigerant to refill a repaired system plus learn to use gauges to determine if any more leaks haven't been found before refilling with refrigerant.

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Old 07-21-2018, 12:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

DonP1, don't buy refrigerant with dye in it. Unless any of your systems lost all its refrigerant oil from crash damage where ac ruptured and released all its refrigerant, oil and dye at once, dye does not have to be added at all. It remains mixed in refrigerant oil. Small leaks showing dye and some oil doesn't warrant injecting more dye. And you're likely to create a real mess if you're not careful - any disconnection of refrigerant with dye will result in spraying some refrigerant along with fresh dye everywhere. At approximately 75 psi in summer temperatures, cans of r134a will have a short burst of refrigerant and dye when a hose is disconnected, marking everything nearby. A real mess not worth the desire to put in dye not needed.

As suggested to every member and non members reading these threads, buy and use an inexpensive uv blacklight first. Throwing away money on refill kits is just that, throwing away money to refill...........a leaking system. Sealer can result in the most expensive repairs when it can suddenly seal in all the wrong places - inadvertently running a system and drawing in air and moisture without purging a feed line or lines and gauges may trigger sealer to begin reacting and seal passages internal to a system. A)Use a uv light to find the source of a leak or leaks then b)determine what it takes to make repairs. Once repairs are made, c) a choice is made to perform the evacuation, final leak test and refill with plain r134a at home with equipment or pay a shop to do it.

If this is your first time with ac repairs, you won't repair a system as quickly as you think if you follow procedures. Ac repairs are unforgiving of mistakes. Rush and skip steps and you'll find out later why skipping steps is wrong - repeating a leak that wasn't found and leaking new refrigerant. The goal of every ac repair is restoring ac cooling back to factory condition as it came that way (without leaking).

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Old 07-21-2018, 06:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

I'm beginning to regret trying to get AC to work.

Cleaned up both engines with Simple Green to get a fresh start with dye.

2001 SL2 - Hooked it up and pulled a vacuum. Vacuum doesn't hold worth a darn. Pumped in one pump of dye and filled with R134. With car running, AC on, fan max, recycle on, compressor won't kick on. Tried hotwiring to 12v - won't engage. I forgot to try a DMM to see if power was being sent to the compressor, but the fan never turned on.

1999 SC2 - already can hear that the low pressure shraeder is leaking. I will replace both. Pumped in a shot of dye. With car running for AC, it took a while but the fan kicked on and the compressor engaged. But, it isn't compressing. No changes in pressure on the manifold gauges, no cold air, and the compressor stayed engaged - never cycled off.

I'm listening to options, but I think I should pull the compressor off my 99 SL2 parts car and put it on the 99 SC2. The 01 SL2 may be a lost cause.

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Old 07-21-2018, 08:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

DonP1, ok so you won't take advice and insist on doing it your way? So far, refrigerant and dye was wasted accomplishing nothing. Insisting on putting in refrigerant resulted in nothing.

There is a right way and the wrong way. Guess which way you're going?

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Old 07-22-2018, 08:03 AM   #9
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
DonP1, ok so you won't take advice and insist on doing it your way? So far, refrigerant and dye was wasted accomplishing nothing. Insisting on putting in refrigerant resulted in nothing.

There is a right way and the wrong way. Guess which way you're going?
I'm not sure what you think I'm doing wrong. The refrigerant and dye have do not seem to have been wasted and accomplished something.

I believe I have determined both of my compressors are shot. My 99 SC2 has a shrader valve leak and the 01 SL2 has serious leaks.

I believe the next course of action would be to try and use the compressor from the 99 SL2 on the 99 SC2, fix the schrader valves on the SC2, then pull a vacuum. If it holds, fill it with R134 and hope for the best.

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Old 07-22-2018, 09:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

I sympathize with you. I have a similar-sounding A/C thread going and am struggling to get a handle on what the root problem is. The vapor refrigeration cycle is all a big balancing act, we know that, but sadly, we can't just easily (or accurately) trace pressures and temperatures from point-to-point through the system.

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Old 07-22-2018, 09:29 AM   #11
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonP1 View Post
I'm not sure what you think I'm doing wrong. The refrigerant and dye have do not seem to have been wasted and accomplished something.

I believe I have determined both of my compressors are shot. My 99 SC2 has a shrader valve leak and the 01 SL2 has serious leaks.

I believe the next course of action would be to try and use the compressor from the 99 SL2 on the 99 SC2, fix the schrader valves on the SC2, then pull a vacuum. If it holds, fill it with R134 and hope for the best.
Remember, the schrader valve is NOT the primary boundary. The screw on caps with the o-ring are and these should be replaced periodically to maintain system integrity.

The only major critical differences in all of these compressors are the clutch electrical connector and the suction line fitting at the compressor.

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Old 07-22-2018, 09:32 AM   #12
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
DonP1, ok so you won't take advice and insist on doing it your way? So far, refrigerant and dye was wasted accomplishing nothing. Insisting on putting in refrigerant resulted in nothing.

There is a right way and the wrong way. Guess which way you're going?
FWIW, I did pretty much exactly what is being done in this youtube video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO1rH8Xzbtc

I used the same dye and the same shrader valve repair kit.

The differences:

The 01 SL2 had no charge so I replaced the schrader valves immediately.

I then pulled a vacuum in order to suck in the dye and charge with R134.

If the compressor clutch doesn't engage when hotwired, it is shot, right? How else could I find this out without putting R134 in it? And since it isn't holding a vacuum, how would I find leaks without adding dye? I have to add dye and R134 in order for the leaks to show up for the blacklight right?

Please explain what I am doing wrong.

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Old 07-22-2018, 09:57 AM   #13
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

DonP1, did it occur to you that dye sprayed everywhere most likely came from refilling/topping off attempts? May I ask how you came to the conclusion compressors are faulty?

Lose refrigerant and compressors/txv cannot work. Both only work when the full amount of refrigerant remains in a system that doesn't leak. If a leak isn't fixed then a system will never hold refrigerant. A leak releasing refrigerant simply won't allow a compressor to work when there's nothing to compress.

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Old 07-22-2018, 10:25 AM   #14
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

DonP1, I suggest you start a new thread pertaining to your specific symptoms and steps/tests done so far. We have two "OPs" and set of problems jumbled in here (three, if you count my similar project) and it tends to get confusing.

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Old 07-22-2018, 11:03 AM   #15
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
DonP1, did it occur to you that dye sprayed everywhere most likely came from refilling/topping off attempts?
That is why I started over by cleaning off the engine with Simple Green. If you read my post this was my first step - get rid of the existing dye.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
May I ask how you came to the conclusion compressors are faulty?
I said in my post that I hot wired the compressor in the 01 SL2 and it didn't engage.

The 99 SC2 engages, but the manifold gauges do not show any pumping action.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Lose refrigerant and compressors/txv cannot work. Both only work when the full amount of refrigerant remains in a system that doesn't leak. If a leak isn't fixed then a system will never hold refrigerant. A leak releasing refrigerant simply won't allow a compressor to work when there's nothing to compress.

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Old 07-22-2018, 11:52 AM   #16
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonP1 View Post
FWIW, I did pretty much exactly what is being done in this youtube video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO1rH8Xzbtc

I used the same dye and the same shrader valve repair kit.

The differences:

The 01 SL2 had no charge so I replaced the schrader valves immediately.

I then pulled a vacuum in order to suck in the dye and charge with R134.

If the compressor clutch doesn't engage when hotwired, it is shot, right? How else could I find this out without putting R134 in it? And since it isn't holding a vacuum, how would I find leaks without adding dye? I have to add dye and R134 in order for the leaks to show up for the blacklight right?

Please explain what I am doing wrong.
1- if you didn't have compressor engagement, a)did you check for a blown fuse, b)shorted diode, c)blown compressor clutch coil? Power begins (first), with 12v thru a fuse to one side of relay contacts. Pushing the ac button and checking for power to the compressor connections are next. No power means one of two paths to travel. At this initial point of troubleshooting, there are two ways of diagnosing the different paths; a)loss of refrigerant triggers a safety design via a pressure sensor detecting too much refrigerant loss, sending a signal to the pcm to disable power to the compressor or b)enough pressure allows power to the compressor. Power at the connector means either the connections are faulty or the clutch coil is blown. Power to a compressor connector is sent to the clutch coil, creating a large magnetic field to engage the clutch plate with a distinctive loud click as metal slaps metal during engagement. Supplying direct power to the compressor connector should power it with a distinctive click. The alternate method of checking for a blown coil is with a multimeter. Resistance for coils are between 3-4 ohms. No gauges, no dye, no vacuum pump used.

Mistakes are made from assumptions all the time when not familiar with vehicle refrigeration systems. Many assume the pressure sensor is faulty when its not, doing what it's designed to do, monitor pressures and send a signal. Pressures below approximately 40 psi is sensed by this pressure switch to send a disable signal. Compressors cannot operate without refrigerant and refrigerant moves lubricating oil. No refrigerant means no lubricating oil. No lubricating oil means compressors self destruct very quickly. Another quick way to check compressor coil; shorting the ac pressure switch with a paper clip to allow power to the compressor. If 12v is on the compressor connector, either the compressor powers up or not. If the compressor powers up with a loud click, the compressor is fine and the leak is the problem.

Troubleshooting begins with power and whether or not its getting to the compressor, not connecting gauges. Temporally bypassing the pressure sensor should allow power to the compressor. Power to the compressor will check whether or the could is blown.

2- the YouTube video is used only after a repair is made. Connecting gauges on a broken system will tell you something - zero pressure, some pressure, a lot of pressure. Gauges don't tell you where a leak released refrigerant. Dye tells you where to look before gauges are connected.

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Old 07-23-2018, 10:16 AM   #17
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Default Re: 02 SL2: No AC

Correction to grammar.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
........Troubleshooting begins with power and whether or not its getting to the compressor, not connecting gauges. Temporally bypassing the pressure sensor should allow power to the compressor. Power to the compressor will check whether the coil blew or not.

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