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Old 06-15-2017, 12:27 PM   #21
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Default Re: Looking for a GM Tech/Specialist

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Try the external fan test. If that gets the installed fan to switch on then you can point at the LP switch as having an elevated trip setpoint.

Special tool not required to bench test pressure switch. Problem is what is required is not common repair shop or dealer equipment.
Low side is 50 and hi side is 150.

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Old 06-15-2017, 12:30 PM   #22
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Default Re: Looking for a GM Tech/Specialist

trottida, it's unfortunate for anyone to make presumptions of faulty parts without a definite method to prove failure. Insofar as pressure sensors, they're fine. According to you and repair shop descriptions, as long as the compressor runs continuously whether at idle or at speed, the combination low/high pressure sensor is operating as designed and not faulty. These pressure sensors are the same ones used in almost every GM model with the same operating characteristics. The switch opens below 18 psi and closes above 40 psi. With a normally operating system, low side pressures never drop below 25 psi@18C/65F. Low side pressures increase as outside temperatures increase due to temperature affects on refrigerant in addition to compression action. Two facts to assure you of correct pressure sensor operation not disabling the compressor; its running and low side pressures are well above 25 psi. The repair shop seeing operating pressures confirms no unusual low side pressures. Retrieve numbers if you can. They may be forgotten but shouldn't be way off in estimation as they would have to state low/high side pressures relative to outside temps and at a specific engine rpm. There are temperature/pressure charts from service manuals to correlate against observed pressures in a range of ambient temperatures and humidity. Using one range of info; between 30-35C/86-95F, 30-50% humidity,@idle rpm, low side pressures should be between 344-482 kpa/50-70 psi, high side between 1280-1670 kpa/186-242 psi with (maximum) outlet temps around 25C/77F@left front center vent, 28C/82F@left rear vent. As you can readily understand, the technical side of refrigeration gets knee deep into things the average person may not want to know unless gauges are used and info is on hand to make any assessments besides seat of the pants guesses from feeling vent temps. Gauges and a stick thermometer are used by almost anyone getting involved in vehicle ac systems.

Presuming all sensors and HVAC control head are fine, there's a troubling fact here. You mentioned the orifice filter is clean. Are you certain of this? I'm not questioning the repair shop as much as its necessary in assessments to be clear of observations. For whatever reasons, Suburbans use a thermal expansion valve in the rear evaporator HVAC unit and none in the front. The orifice filter is used as the interface between the liquid to gas change in the front evaporator unit. The orifice tube comes in different sizes to match vehicle models. Two things can go wrong with orifice tubes; the filter screen clogs and the tube size may be incorrect. A clogged filter screen restricts refrigerant flow. An incorrect orifice tube can restrict or release too much refrigerant into the evaporator coil, upsetting heat absorption. And then there's the possibility of a worn out compressor. Wear may be due to lack of sufficient oil if parts were replaced and oil wasn't replenished when parts were removed.

Does your HVAC labeling state 2.7 lbs or 3 lbs of r134a?

Last edited by fdryer; 06-15-2017 at 12:36 PM..

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Old 06-15-2017, 01:47 PM   #23
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Low side is 50 and hi side is 150.
Are those the system pressures at idle with an additional fan on the condenser? Does the 2nd fan switch on as expected?

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Old 06-15-2017, 01:57 PM   #24
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Are those the system pressures at idle with an additional fan on the condenser? Does the 2nd fan switch on as expected?
Sorry, those are the pressures observed by the mechanic with an ambient temperature of around 75F (24C) on Tuesday. I understand those pressures are on the borderline of a faulty compressor diagnosis.

I have not tried the fan test yet but will when I get home from work this evening. However the weather is not that warm today at 60F and the forecast of thundershowers.

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Old 06-15-2017, 02:20 PM   #25
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OK, yes those numbers do not look good for the compressor but that is a tough call unless you have the FSM numbers in hand and have all the required test conditions established.

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Old 06-16-2017, 08:12 AM   #26
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trottida, examine the tables below. At 75F/24C, 50 psi low, 150 psi high (humidity unknown), values appear to be normal if at idle rpm. The pressure zone box intersect the 50 and 150 psi lines (in yellow) in the 'A' zone. Pressure zone A lists how to proceed. The list states high side pressures may be indicating a loss of refrigerant. When in doubt, the table suggests raising idle to 2k rpm and observing pressures again for a different reading. Table Zone D is referenced to determine which way to proceed.
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Last edited by fdryer; 06-16-2017 at 08:25 AM..

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Old 06-16-2017, 10:10 AM   #27
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Default Re: Looking for a GM Tech/Specialist

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trottida, examine the tables below. At 75F/24C, 50 psi low, 150 psi high (humidity unknown), values appear to be normal if at idle rpm. The pressure zone box intersect the 50 and 150 psi lines (in yellow) in the 'A' zone. Pressure zone A lists how to proceed. The list states high side pressures may be indicating a loss of refrigerant. When in doubt, the table suggests raising idle to 2k rpm and observing pressures again for a different reading. Table Zone D is referenced to determine which way to proceed.
To be more accurate, according to on-line past weather records humidity on Tuesday was between 29-43% and temperatures between 21-23C in the hours that they would have been working on it. So yes it appears to be within range.

Not sure if this matters but at the top of the document it indicates 'for engine driven cooling fan' whereas I have an electric fan.

I have a $275 CAD Rock Auto order up on screen for a new ACDelco compressor, orifice and receiver/dryer. Maybe I'll think it through a bit more....

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Old 06-16-2017, 10:59 AM   #28
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Try an external fan. That should raise the pressure at the low pressure switch.

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Old 06-16-2017, 11:56 AM   #29
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Try an external fan. That should raise the pressure at the low pressure switch.
Ambient temperatures were not ideal yesterday; it might work out for after work today though.

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Old 06-16-2017, 12:26 PM   #30
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I am sorry if this sounds dumb, but recent posts talk about the outside temperature not being right, humidity levels, imminent thunderstorms, etc, etc.

Surely a professional AC garage would not be waiting for the weather to change or temperatures to rise or lower before being able to repair someone's AC?

If they did, they would have irate customers coming out their ears.

Is this issue not being overthought?

Surely, the compressor works or it doesn't.

On the fan issue, mine (2003) has the 1 x engine driven fan, and yours is the version where Chevy swapped to 2 x electric fans. That's forward thinking of GM to replace 1 component with 2?

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Old 06-16-2017, 01:10 PM   #31
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See my comments in red.

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I am sorry if this sounds dumb, but recent posts talk about the outside temperature not being right, humidity levels, imminent thunderstorms, etc, etc.
This refers to myself doing some checks based on advice from fellow forum members rather than the mechanic. The issue is most notable in the warmer temperature ranges. I don't have an AC gauge set nor a Suburban sized garage to work out of.
Surely a professional AC garage would not be waiting for the weather to change or temperatures to rise or lower before being able to repair someone's AC?
They are not waiting, they've gone through the system multiple times and haven't found the root cause of the problem. They've checked for leaks, checked for debris in the system, made sure it held a vacuum, recharged and discharged a few times now, gone through the electrical, etc. It's a busy independent garage with basically 3 mechanics - the owner, a senior mechanic and a junior. The owner has over 25 years experience in the business.
If they did, they would have irate customers coming out their ears.

Is this issue not being overthought?

Surely, the compressor works or it doesn't.
The compressor works as long as you keep the RPM's up which is not ideal. I'd rather that it blew up so it would be obvious. I think this repair was compounded by the control module not working correctly.

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Old 06-16-2017, 03:48 PM   #32
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The thought now is perhaps the AC Compressor is tired. Works fine with higher RPM's but as soon as it hits idle it stops cooling.
Browsing thru I saw this, it's common with Honda compressors and am dealing with one now. Have you checked the clutch gap? Field coils on the compressor also get tired, Maybe with the voltage drop at idle it is enough to disengage the clutch. That would be easy to check with a voltage meter, seeing if a voltage drop corresponds with compressor cut out. I have had success with other cars by replacing the clutch and field coil, the nice part is you usually can leave the refrigerant in the system, as long as you can get to the compressor.

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Old 06-16-2017, 05:17 PM   #33
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trottida, any temperature above 4.5C/40F allows ac operation. No external fan needed. Since you mentioned the compressor runs continuously, the pressure sensor is operating as designed and is not the issue. The corollary is a cycling compressor (running then stopping and repeating) where the most likely reason for this is loss of refrigerant detecting lower than normal operating pressure (as mentioned previously, approximately below 18 psi). Since it was warm enough to run ac, pressures were monitored to record operating pressures. 50 psi is well above the low pressure point to prevent the pressure sensor from false signaling (sending a compressor disable signal to the ecm). The sensors and hvac control panel are operating as designed. Even at 21C-23C or 71F-73F, ac will run (its well above 4C/40F) and create cold air.

Those copies of service manual drawings and tables are what I use for reference in every question pertaining to ac problems. At first glance they may be overwhelming but are there for anyone familiar with interpolating recorded info and comparing to temperature/pressure charts and zones to narrow down the areas to address. While not apparent to most, there is mention of compressor, orifice tube, and loss of refrigerant in the short list of possible issues. With 50 psi on the low side, 150 seems to be lower to suggest possible loss of refrigerant yet no leaks were found. Presuming refrigerant amount is proper leaves compressor and/or orifice tube. The repair shop you're working with seems to be up front and I presume they're using the same info (service manuals) to diagnose where the problem lies.

Refrigerant pressures can be misleading when unfamiliar with varying compressor speeds directly influencing suction and discharge pressures. Briefly put, simple (uncomplicated) ac compressors will have low suction and discharge pressures at idle rpm then ramp up as engine rpm increases. Older GM ac systems used POA valves and other means to regulate varying operating pressures for cold temps whether in hot and humid stop and go local traffic or speeding on highways. Older systems were known to create icing conditions that created a block of ice in the evaporator coils, effectively blocking off airflow until the system was shutdown to allow outside heat melt the newly formed ice block in the hvac box. GM made changes to compressors over the years for incremental improvement; yours still uses a piston compressor (possibly for greater BTU's in a large interior to serve front and rear hvac units) while other Saturn models use either vane or scroll compressors. Each compressor configuration mechanically changes how it compresses a gas. To complicate things, scroll and vane compressors have a mechanism to internally vary output displacement to lower output at low speeds and ramp up to high displacement at higher speeds. These compressors use thermal expansion valves to regulate operating pressure to a narrow range in the evaporator coils for best cooling efficiency. Your piston compressor uses the orifice tube to control operating pressure (and temperature) in the front evap coil and a txv in the rear evap coil. All this means is the hvac engineers carefully designed the system for maximum cooling whether sitting up front, middle or rear in the large interior and cool passengers in local hot and humid stop and go situations as well as moderate to high speeds.

I'm reluctant to state your compressor is worn out and the only clue to it may be the fact that at speed, cooling is fine. Higher compressor speed always results in higher operating pressures, more airflow thru the condenser coil and the ideal operating environment whereas low speed is more than adequate once a system is operating for awhile. Having warmer temps at low speed with adequate cooling at higher speeds tends to point to either loss of refrigerant or failure of the compressor to generate operating pressures. This may be one of a few instances where a compressor does wear out from normal wear and tear. Most Saturns describe compressor displacement similar to engine displacement in reference to power. L-series ac compressors vary displacement output from 9cc to 140cc. Piston compressors tend to have large displacement and info doesn't mention varying displacement. My guess is your compressor has a larger displacement to accommodate the larger interior space to remove heat with dual evaporator coils.

I must point out that the front evap coils use the orifice tube to regulate temperatures and pressures to generate cold air. Its inline, between the condenser and evaporator. Any damage or screen debris can prevent front evaporator coils from generating cold air. I'm at a loss why orifice tubes are used in the front evap coil and then use a txv in the rear evap coil.

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Old 06-16-2017, 06:08 PM   #34
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Try an external fan. That should raise the pressure at the low pressure switch.
No change when the external fan was applied.

Ambient temp was 26C, humidity was 62% and the center vent was blowing 40C at idle with and without the external fan. Increased the RPMs to 3000 and it dropped to 34C within a minute. The rear AC was blowing at 25C at idle.

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Old 06-16-2017, 06:15 PM   #35
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OK, take a look at the suggestion guyg posted above. This appears to be an obscure issue not directly related to compressor performance or the normal interlocks. You seemed to also pushed a potential evaporator leak into the very low probability bucket as well. A clutch dropout on idle voltage would be a rather obscure failure and not something usually looked for.

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Old 06-17-2017, 08:19 PM   #36
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That's interesting stuff. Lots of info on shimming the AC clutch in various ways. Eyeballing the gap it may be a bit wide but I'd have to get some gauges to be sure. A business card slid in the gap with ease.

The symptoms don't seem to match mine though. Generally it was noted that when the car ran for a while and warmed up the compressor clutch would disengage as the magnetic field was not enough to pull it in. So they would be driving for some time and the AC would shut down. When it got really bad then the clutch wouldn't pull in at all.

guyg, is this the Honda symptom too or is it different?

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Old 06-17-2017, 08:37 PM   #37
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The question is this: Is the clutch dropping out due to the electrical circuit opening when you try to engage it with the engine at idle or is it dropping out due to low voltage at the clutch at idle.

If the clutch voltage drops out then the system is commanding the compressor off for some yet to be determined reason.

If the clutch drops out with the engine at idle but a voltage is still present at the clutch coil then it is a clutch issue.

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Old 06-17-2017, 09:05 PM   #38
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Adding to above by Oldnuc. If when hot at idle you see the clutch drop out then re-engage upon raising the idle. I was just thinking outside the box a bit from some personnel experience with the clutch and field coil. Of course if the clutch remains engaged at idle this is moot. Just thought it is something that is easily checked.

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Old 06-18-2017, 05:26 PM   #39
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Default Re: Looking for a GM Tech/Specialist

One thing I have not seen done.

Verify all actuator flaps and positions in the system.

Verify all temperature sensors including ones that compensate for sun light.

Any one of the above will throw the system off and I have seen it a ton of times. Replaced many a temp sensor, solar sensor and flap actuators on Jags, Volvo and Hyundai.

Keep it simple stupid should apply to climate control but it really doesn't anymore.

...
Saturn OEM GM reman. engine NO LONGER AVAILABLE (SOLD OUT)
96 SL2 still kicking at 182k (now with updated mileage)
99 HCE 63k Now at 97k and new GM Reman engine due to road debris

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Old 06-23-2017, 08:04 AM   #40
trottida
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North of North of Toronto, Northern Ontario, Canada
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1999 SL2
2001 SL1
Default Re: Looking for a GM Tech/Specialist

So I succumbed to replacing the AC compressor and we'll see if this resolves the issue. I figure the compressor has lot of time logged on it having been in Texas for the first 8 years/136K mi. If it was the clutch gap then this would be remedied too. For $280 CAD I bought an OEM compressor, receiver dryer and orifice tube. I thought that was a pretty reasonable price for OEM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38TransAM View Post
One thing I have not seen done.

Verify all actuator flaps and positions in the system.

Verify all temperature sensors including ones that compensate for sun light.
The actuators, blend doors and temperature sensors were taken into consideration and ruled out. I do have one actuator that is failing but it is in the rear unit and controls the flow of air from roof to floor vents. It is currently stuck on ceiling. It's not a factor.

...
Current rides
2001 SL1 MT (410,500 km @ 11/2017)
1999 SL2 MT (251,500 km @ 11/2017)
2011 Suburban LT (101,450 km @ 11/2017)

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