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Old 06-18-2018, 01:21 PM   #1
Wallyo
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Default '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

No response when A/C button is pushed, except the light in the button does light up.

With idle at 2,000 - 3,000 rpm, clutch does not engage, cooling fan does not go on.

I verified that there is no power to the cooling fan.

The 30 amp cooling fan fuse is good, and I can see no blown fuses in the bin. The A/C and Fan block fuses confuse me. These are about 1.25 inches cube, Siemens, VF28-11F14-Z05, identical for both. How do you check if they're good? They have four pins. I measure infinite resistance between all pins, except on two that are diagonally opposite, and there I measure about 83.5 Ohms, the same for both.

Finally, I put on a set of A/C manifold gauges and read 90 psig at low side and 85 psig at high side when the engine isn't running. Temperature outside is in upper 80's. These pressures seem a little low. I understand they should both be up around 120 psig with engine not running. But it seems to me there's another problem, which I hope this kind group of experts can help me with. Thanks for listening.

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Old 06-18-2018, 02:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Have you verified that the AC pressure switch has voltage through it whenever the ac button is engaged AND the dash blower switch is turned up?
The pressure switch is on under the hood on the rear drivers side.
Also, could be a bad ac switch on the dash, hence no light illuminated......lol

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Old 06-18-2018, 03:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

If I'm not mistaken, the ac button and blower must be turned on before the compressor and cooling fan turns on. If the ac button is pressed to ON but the cabin blower isn't turned on, ac will not run.

Whoever told you ac pressures should be higher doesn't know refrigeration, period. At rest/standby, pressures can vary in more or less direct proportion to ambient temperatures. A can of r134 sitting on a shelf may be 75 psi because ambient store temps may be around 75F. If your car is sitting at 85F, under hood temps will probably be higher. Let's say 90F. Ac pressures will probably be around 90 psi. Refrigerant gas absorbs heat and cold. absorbing heat means gas expands in a sealed system, like the can on a shelf. Pressures increase with heat. In cooler weather, pressures drop. Gas expands and contracts depending on ambient temperatures. This isn't rocket science but many aren't familiar with basic chemistry and physics. Before you presume (incorrect) anything else, those pressures are fine for the time being and do not tell anyone whether a system is full, partially full or empty. The only way to know how much refrigerant is in a system is by removing it then recharging by weight. A can that's half empty will show the same pressure as a full can of refrigerant. The same applies to vehicle ac systems. Pressure gauges do not tell anyone of a system is half empty, 3/4 empty or 3/4 full. Only a very experienced person can determine with near accuracy whether a system is full or not, requiring a system in full operating condition. Until your system is running, all you have is pressures shown at standby, nothing more. At the least, pressures are where they should be, possibly indicating a lack of any leak in the system. Refrain from injecting refrigerant until you determine why the compressor isn't powering up.

Turn on the interior blower motor then check for cooling fan and compressor operation, measuring both connectors for 12v if necessary.

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Old 06-18-2018, 03:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

richpin's videos for checking/ troubleshooting the engine fan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E6vbQoXSqQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4pSWFE4kdQ

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Old 06-19-2018, 03:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Much progress, thanks to your suggestions. Toggenburg and fdryer, you are correct in saying that both the cabin blower and A/C push button must be on in order to start the A/C equipment. Attaching the manifold gauges with the engine running, I measure only about 55 psig on low side and 110 psig on high side. Ambient temperatures are over 90 F, and temperature of the air coming out of the dash is quite close to that of the ambient air. It thus appears to me the compressor isnít compressing very much, as I understand there should be more like a 100 psi rise from the compressor, and that vent air temperature should be down in the 40ís.

fdryer, I agree that the pressure in a sealed container containing a liquid and its vapor in thermodynamic equilibrium, with no other substances, will be a function only of the temperature, and that increasing temperatures result in increasing pressures. If thereís air in the system, only the partial pressure of the liquid will equal the saturation pressure at the experienced temperature, and the partial pressures of both liquidís vapor and air will equal their respective mole fractions. I donít have much practical experience with different refrigerants, and I was merely stating what I read somewhere, and not thinking critically either. So thanks for making things clear.

alordofchaos, I found the videos on cooling fan diagnosis useful and did verify that the fan works when I bypassed its relay in the fuse/relay box. And now I know that the ďbox fuseĒ I mentioned is really a relay.

So now Iím preparing for the adventure of buying a compressor, and Iím willing to change it myself. If anyone has any tips on buying and changing compressors, Iím all ears. Thanks for the help and great response.

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Old 06-19-2018, 04:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Are those pressures measured at idle or 2k rpm? S-series ac systems are measured at 2k rpm. And did not assume the compressor is faulty. Too many assumptions made without refrigeration knowledge gets more people into deeper trouble.

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Old 06-19-2018, 06:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Hi fdryer, I just now had my wife press on the gas pedal and maintain 2,000 rpm while I looked at the gauges and I read 35 psig on the low side and 100 psig on the high side. Then at idle, the low side goes up to around 50 psig and the high side goes down to about 95 psig. At all times, the vent air in the cabin is barely below ambient.

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Old 06-19-2018, 09:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

2k rpm, low side@35 psi and high side@100 psi means your system lost refrigerant. It leaked out. If you don't have one, buy and use a uv blacklight to find the source of the leak. Your compressor is fine. It's operating as designed. Pressures vary, indicating compressor operation. Since low side pressure is correct, a lower high side pressure means refrigerant was lost. Injecting more refrigerant will increase high side pressures so you have a choice - use a uv light to find the leak or refill..........a leaking system. Dye glows under uv light illumination.

Your system is somewhere below full capacity of r134a otherwise the high side would show higher pressures, between 150-275 psi while low side remains around 35 psi and cold air would emanate from the vents.

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Old 06-20-2018, 09:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Gotcha. Excellent! Thanks for restraining my impulsive conclusions. There's nothing like tested experience such as yours. I'm off to get a black light, hopefully at my nearby Pep Boys.

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Old 06-20-2018, 10:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

YMMV, but both my Saturns developed slow leaks at the Schrader valves. Worth looking at if you don't see any glowing patches elsewhere

Replacement AC valves are available at the FLAPs for about $4 a pair, with new dust covers. There is a tool that allows you to remove the valve without opening up the system and loosing the last of the R134a
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...postcount=4861

A slightly more ghetto patch is described here
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=200638

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Old 06-20-2018, 11:26 AM   #11
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Replacement AC valves are available at the FLAPs for about $4 a pair, with new dust covers. There is a tool that allows you to remove the valve without opening up the system and loosing the last of the R134a
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...postcount=4861
I'll never forget the time that I found the same small leak. I took the vehicle to get the tires rotated and asked the guy at the tire shop about replacing the valve stems. When he said it would require evacuation and recharge to do so, I told him never mind. You must not have the tool to do it without evacuating the system.

He stated there is no such tool and proceeded to become argumentative. I simply stated Google is your friend and left.

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Old 06-22-2018, 02:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

More progress. I got a uv light with glasses and searched for leaks. One leak I know I have is through the high side Shrader valve. So, thanks to alordofchaos for preparing me for that. I heard a pfft when I loosened its cover, and I can even see very slight bubbling down on the bottom inside the valve. The low side valve seems okay. I even had my wife listen as I opened it, since she has much better ears than I do.

On the firewall, there's a connector with a rubber cap in the line coming from the cabin evaporator and headed to the low side of the compressor. Is this the A/C pressure switch Toggenberg mentioned? I see luminescence on and in the periphery of the cap, but there's not a hint of luminescence inside after I remove the cap. Should I interpret this as a leak?

I'm puzzled also because there's a lot of illumination on the body of the compressor, in the area about the high side valve that has what looks like little tits of white oxidation marks. Same with the back face of the compressor where the low side connection is. There's no illumination on the high and low side dog leg connectors. There are even other pieces of aluminum elsewhere under the hood that have this oxidized look and that luminescence. I checked all the other A/C connectors, tubes, etc. and they seem good.

Judging from the time it took to lose A/C cooling, this is a slow leak, and I can believe the Shrader valve accounts for all of it, and from suggestions here, I can hope to change that valve without draining the system, which for me would be a last resort. But the possibility of a leak at the firewall A/C connector makes me wonder if I should try repairing that. Can it be done without draining the system? If not, maybe itís worth recharging now and seeing what comes?

I appreciate very much the tips from this group. I was late responding because I got side tracked into changing my oil. I saw a signature file from someone that said old Saturns donít die. Theyíre killed by people who donít check the oil. So I checked the oil and gasped at seeing the level below the low add range and wetting the bottom of the dip stick only about 1/8 inch. So I bought the oil and filter, but then discovered my hydraulic floor jack wasnít working. It was seriously air locked, not being used for years. I added jack oil and tried all kinds of ways to get the air out, but the only thing that worked was to turn the jack on its front end so that its bottle jack is upside down (wheels away from the crank on the ground), then open the release valve and pumping, which cleared air from the pump piston. For the ram, I manually extended the cylinder (against its spring) and pressed it closed a few times (again with release valve opened). This worked very well, yielding very solid jack action (no sloppiness or sponginess). I was then able to change the oil. With full synthetic, of course, as I learned from this forum. But actually, before getting to the oil again, I had to tend to the squirrels that were clearing the apricots off my apricot tree, damn them!

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Old 06-22-2018, 02:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Whatever you do... do not use R134a with leak stop in it. Use pure R134a only.

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Old 06-22-2018, 03:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Can you take pictures? Warning! Every digital camera and cellphone creates large image files too large to include as thumbnail files (150kb limit). Resizing images is relatively easy if you know how to use Paint or similar software to resize images having several megabytes of info. Reducing image size to around one megabyte and reformatting to jpeg works well to attach as thumbnails. Other formats work too but resizing to less than a megabyte helps. Some experimenting will determine what size works. For whatever reason, when I resize large files to around a megabyte in jpeg format, the size magically becomes much less than 150kb and accepted. Preview button allows you to see the image in full size on a pc screen, the same image everyone will see. This also brings out every poorly focused image. If pics are out of focus, don't bother to attach them to posts. Take new pics and preview them before attaching them for show and tell.

That third valve isn't the pressure sensor. It should be on the other end of the high side discharge line going to the condenser coil. You should have seen it as you shined the uv light on all the ac plumbing parts. It will have a two wire connection on it. I don't know what that third valve is.

If you can buy replacement ac valve cores and see if AutoZone loans out the valve core removal tool, you can save yourself grief by replacing the valve cores without removing/losing refrigerant. Technically, any time a system is opened for any reason and whether or not refrigerant is released, a vacuum pump is needed after repairs to remove all air and moisture that enters otherwise moisture and refrigerant chemically reacts to become acidic and slowly destroys the ac system from within. Not evacuating a repaired system is guaranteed to create future problems. Valve core replacement using the special tool avoids this procedure especially when a system isn't damaged, requiring major parts replacement that opens the system to the atmosphere. The white spots may be faded dye and oil staining aluminum over time. Oil can act as a coating to prevent oxidation of bare aluminum. If you are sure there are no other leaks, valve replacement may be the lowest cost repair with the next steps following valve system replacement.

With a system still retaining a partial amount of refrigerant, connecting gauges (presuming a purge of lines are performed), can allow you to top off with refrigerant. Beware, do not buy any refrigerant containing any sealer. Buy only r134a without sealer. Sealer only creates more headaches. Before continuing, once the high side valve core is replaced, brush off all the areas that showed dye using detergent and water to remove as much dye as possible. This prepares the system for any future leaks. Dye remains mixed in refrigerant oil so adding dye isn't necessary unless all the oil was lost.

Last edited by fdryer; 06-22-2018 at 03:29 PM..

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Old 06-22-2018, 03:36 PM   #15
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

You'll want to keep an eye on the oil - I check weekly and usually end up adding 3~6 oz every week. (I keep it slightly above the FULL line, so by the end of the week, I am back down to the line)

AC parts diagram

https://www.wholesalegmpartsonline.c...rimLevel=25210


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Old 06-22-2018, 05:02 PM   #16
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

^ Excellent parts diagram. My bad as I presumed the pressure sensor was on the other end of the discharge hose. The sensor is labeled#16 and on another hose leading to the firewall connections. If this was capped (sensor removed), look for a two wire connector, possibly tied off against a harness with a paper clip or wire jumper inserted into the connector.

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Old 06-29-2018, 09:07 AM   #17
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

I'm finally back on this project, now that the Summer heat here in Jersey is on the move up. I hope I haven't kept any of you waiting too long. I made pics of the blacklight results. The first (4784) shows the low pressure connection to the compressor, the second (4785) shows the high pressure connection, next (4789) is the expansion valve (#10 on the parts map), with the rubber cap on, and last (4790) is the expansion valve with the rubber cap off.

Although the connectors on the compressor show luminescence on the compressor body, I'd be surprised if this indicates a leak, because that luminescence seems to be from the oxide coating on the compressor body and there's no luminescence on the connectors themselves. The luminescence on the Expansion valve also puzzles me. First, there's no oxide coating there, and so I do think the luminescence is the result of leak proofer, but the fact that there's no luminescence under the rubber cap suggests to me that the leak proofer was dumped there possibly when the system was first charged, or was worked on in the past, before I owned the car, which I bought in 2006. How long do traces of this leak proofer last on the metal surfaces?

But I'm an amateur at this, and so I'd respect the opinion of more experienced people on this forum. If I'm right in all this, and from the fact that I know the high pressure Schraeder valve leaks, I'd consider changing both low and high pressure valves, topping off the refrigerant, and see what happens. But there's confusion even with this high pressure valve. As I mentioned before, I know it's leaking because when I loosen the cap, it gives a pfft, and I can see bubbling at the bottom of the internal valve cavity. Even though the valve itself leaks, can the cap sealing be enough to prevent any refrigerant release, even at the high pressures of operation? If so, I should re-consider if there are other leaks that must be fixed.

Concerning replacement of the Schraeder valves, there are tools on the web that cost down to $35, but they vary in construction. I think it's best to get one with an extra service port, and it's mandatory that one tool be able to be used on both valves, or have two separate connectors for that. If anyone has a tip on where to buy this kind of valve, please let me know. Home Depot advertises an American made brass tool, but they don't indicate if it can be used on both low and high pressure valves. I'm tempted to just assume it does, but I'd like to see confirmation before I buy.

Thanks again for all your suggestions.

Tom
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4784.jpg (55.9 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4785.jpg (62.9 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4789.jpg (53.1 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4790.jpg (59.4 KB, 8 views)

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Old 06-29-2018, 09:55 AM   #18
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

It's great when anyone takes snapshots of difficult to capture pics of dye leaks under uv light illumination. How did you find info about leak proofer or oxide coating that glows under uv light? I don't know what leak proofer is or oxide coating that glows. Unless you used a uv light on a new vehicle that hasn't suffered any dye leaks from its ac system, you may be mistaken in presuming dye isn't from an ac leak. I can state with certainty that your descriptions and pressure measurements points to another ac system leaking with tell tale dye marking where leaks occurred. Everywhere dye is seen are at every mechanical connection using O-rings. Nothing lasts forever. Leaks occur and if vehicle ac systems were built using copper lines and brazed for a permanent seal like every refrigerator and room air conditioner, they would last almost forever. Since our vehicles need light weight designed systems, vehicle ac systems requires compromises using aluminum, fittings and O-rings to join everything together and allow repairs when we have accidents. The compromises to vehicle as systems risks a greater chance for leaks to occur. 98% of all vehicle ac system problems are leaks. You've found yours. The easiest repair (but not permanent) to restore cooling temporarily would be replacing both Schrader valve cores using possibly a loaner tool from AutoZone. Here's one link to a set of tools to replace valves without losing refrigerant; http://www.toolpan.com/Mastercool-81...xoCAe0QAvD_BwE. The red and blue colored fittings are the two different sized couplers to mate to the high (red) and low (blue) fittings. There are several types of designs, all to make it easier to change valve cores without losing refrigerant. The valves serve as the main shut off for servicing a system and service caps with O-ring back up to help seal against leaks. The caps won't prevent leaks by themselves if valves leak.

In addition to replacing the valve cores, ensure the caps can seal otherwise replace them too. As to fitting leaks where they occurred (both fittings on the compressor and thermal expansion valve), scrub any dye from surfaces and use the uv light after drying off to see what remains. I can't recall right now what works to remove dye. A clean area becomes your baseline on future leaks with surfaces cleaned of residual dye. Any new leaks will be fresh and glow brighter. Once prepped and new valves are in place, go ahead and refill the system carefully. Refilling is a guessing game and requires attention to details. Once filled and ac cools, you're in the only position to determine how slow or fast refrigerant leaks out as you're the only person to detect how long cooling lasts before cooling is lost. Personally, I suspect you'll be seeing fresh dye sooner or later and in the same areas......

Last edited by fdryer; 06-29-2018 at 10:03 AM..

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Old 06-29-2018, 10:12 AM   #19
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

I'll post a chart later, as your guide to determining how much refrigerant to inject to arrive at a specific range of pressures @2k rpm and ambient temperatures. Too much or too little refrigerant adds additional problems. You'll inject refrigerant a few ounces at a time then stop to allow pressures to stabilize and observe if they're where they should be in comparison to the temperature/pressure chart or inject more refrigerant until the target range is met and interior cooling is felt. All this should be done under shade or inside garage with a fan blowing into the front of the car.

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Old 06-29-2018, 11:39 AM   #20
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Default Re: '97 SW1 A/C doesn't do anything

Although the procedures below are for '98, it applies to '97's.
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