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Old 08-16-2010, 01:03 PM   #1
dizturbed
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2006 ION-3 Quad Coupe
Cool Heater Core/ Air Conditioning Issues

Howdy All,

I have always found these forums helpful and am a fairly new Saturn owner, so it seemed a perfect fit.

Anyway, I have a 2006 Ion-3 with the suicide doors (which is one of the reasons I bought the car - I LOVE THEM!). It has the 2.2 and A/C...but recently, I've noticed a wet area on the passenger side under the glove box (signifying a potential Heater Core), but with very little coolant loss, if any at all.

Around the same time, while driving and A/C working seemingly fine, I get a weird smell and the A/C goes warm and never comes back cool again.

Are the Heater Core and A/C connected/related?

And if so, will replacing the Heater Core and recharging the A/C do the trick or is there more to it?

One last question, how hard is it to do?

Thanks,
Bob
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Heater Core/ Air Conditioning Issues

Condensation? Sometimes the condensate drain gets clogged so moisture collects in the HVAC box instead of draining out resulting in a pool of water overflowing into the driver or passenger area. The drain valve should be down the outside firewall and may need some prodding with a pencil tip to open the duck valve that closes to prevent small mosquitoes from crawling in. Debris may be clogging it. Try fiddling with the rubber valve and see if more water drains out.

The HVAC box encloses the heater core and evaporator core along with either actuator motors or cable operated doors to channel air flow and control mixing cold and heated air.

See if the drain is clogged then come back if the a/c runs intermittently. A/C work isn't just about recharging if a leak continues to release refrigerant each time a refill empties out.
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:32 PM   #3
dizturbed
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Dizzy Re: Heater Core/ Air Conditioning Issues

I will check the valve tonight and get back with you here.

Just for the record, I haven't charged the A/C yet and really don't know if there is a leak or not. I have not charged it at all since I bought the car a year ago. It worked fine and then just quit working and smelled funny for a minute before it stopped working.

How would I check for a refrigerant leak?

Thanks again,
Bob
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: Heater Core/ Air Conditioning Issues

The funky smell may be normal bacterial growth that occurs in almost every car with a/c; if the condensation from the evap coils isn't dried out by running the blower a minute or so after shutting off the a/c, the petri dish within the HVAC box promotes foul odors. If your a/c suddenly stops cooling and warm air flows, the moldy smell starts growing. There are various remedies like Frigi-Fresh and Ozium to spray into the outside intake vent for distributing disinfectant to help kill foul growth. The dealers have chemical treatments that require a hole in the HVAC box to spray a coating onto the evap coils to ward off bacterial growth.

Other than using a set of refrigeration gauges to check low and high side pressures against published temperature/pressure charts from the FSM, you'd have to be very experienced to interpret pressure readings without the charts. The store refill cans do absolutely nothing to help you as valid pressure readings are done at elevated rpm (FSM spec) and not at idle speed. We all know that our a/c systems works great at speed but the store refill cans won't tell you to raise rpm for fear of the big word, "LIABILITY". So reading the green/yellow/blue color code on the cheap refill cans does nothing but empty your wallet without a clue as to which way to proceed. What you do the moment you try refilling is automatically becoming a refrigeration repairman because more often than not a refill may last anywhere from 1-day to all summer but not next summer. Unless you're willing to go the whole route to correct a/c repair, you're left to either attempt finding the source of the leak and then determining if repairs/replacement of parts are within your abilities and leave the technical work to a shop or to leave everything to a repair shop.

In as few words as possible, a leak is usually marked by dye and oil from the system as pressure forces these two markers out the point of weakness. 98% of the a/c system is in the engine area. The other 2% is the expansion valve on the firewall and the evap coil inside the HVAC box.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:46 AM   #5
dizturbed
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Dizzy Re: Heater Core/ Air Conditioning Issues

Well, I really would give ANYTHING to find the Condesate Valve to check it...

I Jacked up the car, looked all over the firewall...nothin that even seems close...

I looked from up-top (and have a pretty good veiw of everything on the firewall)...nothin...

I found the heater core lines and the lines to the radiator...

I watched video's on youtube and looked it up in the Hayes manual, as well as online...can NOT find this stupid thing or anything that looks like it on the firewall...

Is there ANY way you can provide me with a descriptive way to find the CONDESATE VALVE?

Thanks,
Bob
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Heater Core/ Air Conditioning Issues

If the HVAC box sits in the middle of the car then the drain hose for condensation should be somewhere in the lower middle section of the firewall. I don't have any information at work as all my info is at home.
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