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Old 05-17-2011, 01:52 PM   #1
Chuckles278
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Default A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheating)

2002 Saturn SL1 Sedan 105K. Looking for an idea on where to begin troubleshooting.

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Old 05-17-2011, 02:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

Which fan works? The blower fan or the radiator cooling fan? Or both?

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Old 05-17-2011, 02:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

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Originally Posted by BV22 View Post
Which fan works? The blower fan or the radiator cooling fan? Or both?
I meant the blower fan, but since you asked I decided to check to see if the radiator cooling fan was coming on and after letting it run for idle for 5-10 minutes the radiator fan never kicked on. However the temp. gauge never got over 3/8 of the range in that time. I also noticed that the AC Compressor clutch doesn't seem to be functioning correctly. It goes from fully engaged rotating at the speed of the belt, to what seems to be partially engaged slowing to a jerky stand still before re-engaging.

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Old 05-17-2011, 02:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

Radiator fan won't come on until temp gauge is just past 1/2. This can take up to 20 minutes of idling to happen. However, fan should run constantly with the a/c on, and the compressor clutch does not cycle on this car, it is always running if the a/c is turned on.

What does the radiator fan do when you turn the a/c on?

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Old 05-17-2011, 02:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

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Radiator fan won't come on until temp gauge is just past 1/2. This can take up to 20 minutes of idling to happen. However, fan should run constantly with the a/c on, and the compressor clutch does not cycle on this car, it is always running if the a/c is turned on.

What does the radiator fan do when you turn the a/c on?
With AC on and blower fan set to high the compressor clutch is cycling and the radiator cooling fan has not kicked on. I'm gonna let it warm up.

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Old 05-17-2011, 03:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

OK, if the gauge gets near 3/4 with no fan start up, shut it off.

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Old 05-17-2011, 03:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

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OK, if the gauge gets near 3/4 with no fan start up, shut it off.
Will do. I'll let you know when its warm.

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Old 05-17-2011, 03:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

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Originally Posted by Chuckles278 View Post
2002 Saturn SL1 Sedan 105K. Looking for an idea on where to begin troubleshooting.
It is reduced compressor efficiency with age. Mine does exactly the same thing even after a full recharge (warm air at idle, cold running). However, your radiator fan should kick on any time the compressor is running. If not, there's a problem. If the radiator fan is not turning on even at high temp, it's probably the fan relay.

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Old 05-17-2011, 03:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

Ok. I let the temp get to a little over 5/8 of the gauge and the radiator cooling fan never kicked on with the AC on full blast. I'm not comfortable with getting it much hotter than that. What do you think?

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Old 05-17-2011, 03:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

I think you have a cooling fan problem. The fan should be running full blast when the a/c is on, regardless of engine temperature, and should have come on before 5/8 on the temp gauge whether the a/c was on or not. So, it is typically one of two things:
1. The fan relay is bad. It is in the fuse box under the hood near the battery. Cheap to replace, and I think you can swap one of the other relays in there for the fan relay for a quick test.
2. The fan motor is fried. This can be tested by disconnecting the power connector near the fan an running + and - wires from the battery direct to the fan motor. If it does not spin with battery voltage applied, it needs to be replaced.

Search cooling fan on this site and you can find all the details. Your poor a/c performance while sitting still can be caused by the cooling fan failure. No air flow over the condensor while sitting still means little or no evaporation in the evaporator, which means no cooling. Fix the radiator fan first, and then report back if you still have a/c issues.

As stated above, compressors do get tired after a while.

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Old 05-17-2011, 05:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

Quote:
Originally Posted by BV22 View Post
I think you have a cooling fan problem. The fan should be running full blast when the a/c is on, regardless of engine temperature, and should have come on before 5/8 on the temp gauge whether the a/c was on or not. So, it is typically one of two things:
1. The fan relay is bad. It is in the fuse box under the hood near the battery. Cheap to replace, and I think you can swap one of the other relays in there for the fan relay for a quick test.
2. The fan motor is fried. This can be tested by disconnecting the power connector near the fan an running + and - wires from the battery direct to the fan motor. If it does not spin with battery voltage applied, it needs to be replaced.

Search cooling fan on this site and you can find all the details. Your poor a/c performance while sitting still can be caused by the cooling fan failure. No air flow over the condensor while sitting still means little or no evaporation in the evaporator, which means no cooling. Fix the radiator fan first, and then report back if you still have a/c issues.

As stated above, compressors do get tired after a while.
After changing the fuse and relay for the cooling fan there is no improvement (the cooling fan still doesn't come on). However, I've noticed that when I start the car, the AC begins cooling right away (the air coming from the vents is cold). Then the AC compressor clutch disengages and the air coming through the vents immediately starts to heat up.

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Old 05-17-2011, 05:56 PM   #12
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Default Re: A/C Cools while driving but warm at idle (Fan works, the engine starts overheatin

It's STRICTLY a cooling fan problem. The cooling fan should be on at ALL times that the A/C is on. If the A/C is on and the fan isn't running, it's the fan, or the relay, or the wiring.

This is NOT, or at least not necessarily, an issue with the A/C or the compressor. The A/C cannot condition if air is not being brought past the condenser. This is normally done by the fan. This is why it doesn't seem to condition while the car is standing still, but it does when the car is moving.

You can prove this dispositively with two simple tests:
1) Rev the engine above idle while the car is standing still. This will run the compressor at a higher speed. Most likely, it still won't blow cool air, for the reason stated above (no air through the. If it does, then that MIGHT hint at a compressor issue.
2) Contrapositive test - Drive up to speed, where you can safely coast, shift to neutral and let the engine idle, but keep the car moving (stay off the brake). Mist likely, it WILL still blow cold air, because the car's movement will be moving air past the condenser.

Fix the fan first, then see what, if anything, is still at issue wrt. the A/C. First/simplest test - swap the fan and horn relays. Start the engine and turn on the A/C. Check for fan ops. Also try the horn. If horn works and fan still does not, we'll move on to a fan motor test. If the fan works but the horn does not, its a failed relay (the one that is now energizing the horn) - replace.

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