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Old 08-05-2011, 09:19 PM   #1
gus55
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Wrench 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

A/c clutch went out,continuity test indicated an open circuit. I replaced it with a used compressor I got from a wrecking yard. vacumed it out and charged it with as much as would go in without the compressor running. Started the motor, turned on the a/c, and the clutch didnt engage. checked fuses, all ok. swapped the a/c relay with the horn relay, horn still worked clutch still didnt. Hardwired the clutch and it came on, so I finished charging the can of refrigerant and 2.5 oz oil into it. then noticed the low side pressure kept climbing, then noticed the condensor fan wasnt running, which would explain the pressure. So I hardwired the fan motor to see if it worked. It has 3 wires, maybe 2 speeds? I jumped from the red wire to the middle one and got nothing, but from the red to the other one it came on and worked. Does the condensor fan have something to do with the compressor not coming on? I'm lost now, please help.

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Old 08-05-2011, 10:44 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

The cooling fan will not turn on unless coolant temps are above 204F or a/c pressures are above 174psi. The cooling fan runs independently of the a/c system but will run if the high pressure side goes above 174psi, starting at low speed. As pressures increase, medium speed and finally high speed. The same with coolant temps.

With one can of R134a, there should have been more than enough pressure to allow compressor operation but if a leak developed then pressure may be low, below 26psi. One way to leak out would be reusing O-rings/flat seal, omitting a seal, incorrect tightening of fittings, etc..

When the system was evacuated, did you shut off the pump and valves and observed the vacuum gauge for any leak?

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Old 08-07-2011, 12:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

yes , I let it set for several hours with out the vac pump running, only lost a slight amount of vacuum, i think maybe due to the quick connector not sealing completely. when i put everything back together, i used a form of locktight on the o-rings,for that purpose, never had any problems with leaks when i used that stuff in the past, i'm pretty sure there arent any leaks. this morning i worked on it some. i hardwired the compressor and the condensing fan at the same time, i get cold air inside. im unable to check the highside pressure because i dont have the fitting needed to fit my manifold set. the low side is at 40psi. all the fuses and relay appear o.k. also jumped across the diode, and got nothing.the high pressure switch has 3 wires, so i dont know what to do with it. I noticed that the fan has 3 wires also, when i hard wired it, it would only run on high speed, the other speed didnt work.

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Old 08-07-2011, 01:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

I don't know if locitite works for sealing a/c fittings but its not recommended. The O-rings and flat seals need compression to provide a pressure proof seal from vacuum and pressures exceeding 300psi. Loctite is not made for sealing against pressures but designed to prevent threads from seizing against corrosion and prevent loosening up. Mineral oil is the recommended lube for O-rings before tightening a/c fittings.

The diode is used to protect the electronics and a/c relay contacts. A reverse voltage and current is created when the a/c is turned off; the large magnetic field generated reverses as it loses power and generates a reverse voltage with current large enough to cause electronic damage so a diode absorbs this reverse current immediately as a shunt before it has a chance to harm electronics. Sometimes this diode fails and shorts, causing an immediate short circuit that blows the a/c fuse immediately and every fuse replaced.

Correct a/c pressures can only be monitored with a set of refrigeration gauges. Any other method is just wasting time and effort because the wrong tools just don't work. There's a saying, do it right or don't do it at all. Vehicle refrigeration requires knowledge and tools to do it right. You seem to be familiar with most of it so it might pay to invest in the gauge set - you'll be using it more than you can imagine as time and circumstances change down the road. Like a good set of wrenches, tools are the extension of your abilities to do work. No tools, no work. An old R12 set of gauges/hoses can still be used with adapters to change the 1/4 NPT fittings to ACME fittings and adapters to use quick couplers.

The three speed cooling fans are controlled by the fan control module next to the battery.

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Old 08-07-2011, 02:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

I really appreciate your help. yes i do have some experience with a/c and ref., i went to school for it back in the 70s at TSTI, now TSTC in Waco Tex. but didnt finish the course due to funding. But learned quite a bit, then a lot more in the field afterwards. I mostly worked on window units and residential split systems and some of the older model cars, but they seem to be a lot different now, as far as wiring and electrical goes. I do have a set of gauges, I just dont have the adapter needed for the high side, so I cant tell what its doing.

So you think the problem could be either pressure related, or the fan controle module? I noticed a black box right next to the battery, with a circuit board inside it, is this the fan controller you speak of? did you catch that part about when i hardwire everything, (Fan and compressor), I get cold air? How can I test that high pressure switch? or how can I tell if it has something to do with the fan controller module?

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Old 08-07-2011, 03:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

Vehicle a/c systems still works as they always did; turn power on to the compressor and refrigeration takes place. Remove hot air from inside the car and you have cold air. The controls are still the same; either its manual or automatic climate (computer) controlled. The basic a/c system still runs exactly as it did when it was first invented. Just the gases used has changed.

The black box next to the battery is the fan control module that the ecm/pcm uses to control the cooling fan(s) speeds with. Its independent of the a/c system but indirectly runs parallel since the cooling system also depends on the cooling fan. The ecm/pcm determines when and at what speed the cooling fan(s) run whether the a/c is used or not. This has a complex wiring circuit by itself.

Here's a brief description of the pressure sensor used in your car, unlike the older pressure switch used in the S-series cars;

A/C Refrigerant Pressure Sensor
The A/C refrigerant pressure sensor is a 3-wire piezoelectric pressure transducer. A 5-volt reference, low reference, and signal circuits enable the sensor to operate. The A/C pressure signal can be between 0-5 volts. When the A/C refrigerant pressure is low, the signal value is near 0 volts. When the A/C refrigerant pressure is high, the signal value is near 5 volts.

The A/C refrigerant pressure sensor protects the A/C system from operating when an excessively high or low pressure condition exists. The PCM/ECM disables the compressor clutch under the following conditions:
  • A/C high side pressure is more than 2900-2997 kPa (420-435 psi). The clutch will be enabled after the A/C high side pressure decreases to less than 1998 kPa (290 psi).
  • A/C low side pressure is less than 180 kPa (26 psi). The clutch will be enabled after the A/C low side pressure increases to more than 248 kPa (36 psi).


In a nutshell, you're electrical system is fine, the a/c system has a leak that's been detected by the pressure sensor to protect the compressor. Find the source of the leak, make repairs so this system doesn't leak and holds pressure and the pressure sensor will then allow the a/c system to run. Its that simple but far too many here think short cuts will fix things. There are no short cuts to a/c repairs.

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Old 08-07-2011, 05:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2001 saturn L200, 2.2, a/c clutch

Thank you for your response, i'll dig deeper into the pressure/leak senario.

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