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Old 05-11-2022, 06:33 PM   #1
Mike R
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Default No cold air

2001 Sl1, A/c not cooling, I had a compressor front seal fail, I bought a reman compressor, it leaked, after two more under warranty failed I replaced it with a known good used compressor, it pulled a vacuum held it and I recharged with clean R-134 and boom, low side pressure 35, high side, 105. I have owned this car for 10 years and rarely drive it, the last time it was registered was 2 years ago. Unless it was added before me, it has zero overhaul in a can in the system. I'm leaning towards the expansion valve, I have a new one on the shelf and I'm going to install it because...well because, any other thing it might be?
...
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Old 05-11-2022, 10:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: No cold air

Were pressures measured with engine idling or at 2k rpm (service manual procedures)? Since no one drives at idle speed, compressors vary discharge pressures as engine rpm changes so 2k rpm is recommended and operating pressures are compared to service manual charts relative to ambient temperatures and humidity, the other two factors affecting operating pressures.
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Old 05-12-2022, 07:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: No cold air

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...I bought a reman compressor, it leaked, after two more under warranty failed I replaced it with a known good used compressor...
Hmmm. Any advice on what brands to avoid? I need to replace my compressor on my 1991 SC. It was converted to R-134 via an SAE procedure according to the sticker under the hood. Now, I'm not sure how to order the parts.
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Old 05-12-2022, 11:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: No cold air

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Hmmm. Any advice on what brands to avoid? I need to replace my compressor on my 1991 SC. It was converted to R-134 via an SAE procedure according to the sticker under the hood. Now, I'm not sure how to order the parts.
Nearly all of them. Reman'd compressors and new Chinese compressors rarely work in my experience. Either they leak or they don't produce good pressure. Even seen then blow apart throwing bearings everywhere.

I've had so-so experience with Four Seasons. ACDelco is a good choice but will cost you more than the value of the car. I have occasionally had good results at pick-n-pull but the economics wouldn't work if you're paying someone labor.

BTW: The four seasons compressor as the pressure line clocked wrong so the line will run across the top of the radiator. No issue until you want to change the radiator.

-Robert
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Old 05-12-2022, 12:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: No cold air

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Nearly all of them. Reman'd compressors and new Chinese compressors rarely work in my experience. Either they leak or they don't produce good pressure. Even seen then blow apart throwing bearings everywhere.

I've had so-so experience with Four Seasons. ACDelco is a good choice but will cost you more than the value of the car. I have occasionally had good results at pick-n-pull but the economics wouldn't work if you're paying someone labor.

BTW: The four seasons compressor as the pressure line clocked wrong so the line will run across the top of the radiator. No issue until you want to change the radiator.

-Robert
Thanks. What about the conversion? If I give them make, model and year I'd expect an unconverted compressor. How do get one that fits my year with R-134 compatible parts?
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Old 05-12-2022, 03:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: No cold air

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Were pressures measured with engine idling or at 2k rpm (service manual procedures)? Since no one drives at idle speed, compressors vary discharge pressures as engine rpm changes so 2k rpm is recommended and operating pressures are compared to service manual charts relative to ambient temperatures and humidity, the other two factors affecting operating pressures.
Yes, pressure tested at 2000 rpm, just a slight movement on the gauges when revved up
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Old 05-12-2022, 04:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: No cold air

My guess is your original r12 system converted to r134a was the typical low and high side valve additions to the r12 screw on fittings to follow mandated regulations to force using quick connect fittings. This ensures amateurs and diyers without a clue of using r12 hose fittings and gauges won't work to inadvertently use r12 and avoid misconnections to introduce an explosive situation. While a real pita to everyone familiar with ac repairs, hidden hazards befall those refusing to listen or ignoring any advice related to vehicle ac systems maintenance or repairs. The conversion also required installing ester oil into r12 systems using mineral oil. R12 mineral oil lubrication isn't compatible with r13ra as it uses pag oil, a synthetic. There's very little info on how long old r12 systems retaining incompatible oil that supposedly allows it to continue lubricating with ester oil. Virtually every vehicle r12 systems are gone with a few being completely disassembled, flushed of old oil, replacing everything as new for r134a including pag oil and dye to complete a new rebuild to vehicles that may be fully restored to factory condition. You may be one of less than a handful of Saturn owners with an r12 system still using original oil with r134a.

Unfortunately, without any info, it's guessing whether or not your old system works with old oil and any ester oil, becoming detrimental to the compressor. In addition to this, there's no known history of when a thermal expansion valve wears out. Suffice it to say that a 30 yr old system should be overhauled, disassembling everything to flush out all old oil, replacing the filler/drier and txv at the least. Condenser coils are not the same tube configurations as r12 coils and may need to be replaced as they interfere with flushing solvents This is a major rebuild and may be your best option if you want factory air. Anything else is a gamble as retaining old oil may already compromise any compressor used since. No one's ever said converting r12 to r134a would last forever as wear and tear takes its toll on vehicles while many moving on to newer transportation rather than deal with an expensive repair.

My personal guess based on your operating pressures are that the txv is fine otherwise it wouldn't regulate pressurized liquid fluid to release and control pressures to 35 psi. Normal high side pressures fall between 125-250 psi with txv creating the low side/high side divide. This suggests either refrigerant loss resultinb in lower high side pressures and/or a compromised compressor. Whether or not the compressor is compromised from design or incompatible r12/ester oil mix is unknown.

Best low side pressures are below 35 psi because liquid refrigerant regulated to this low pressure allows it to quickly revert back to its gaseous state while absorbing heat from the finned evap coils. Higher low side pressures reduces cooling efficiency.

Last edited by fdryer; 05-12-2022 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 05-17-2022, 08:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: No cold air

My car came with R-134A from the factory
...
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Old 05-17-2022, 09:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: No cold air

My bad. Post #7 was meant for dtuuri with his '91. '94-'95 when r12 was switched to r134a.
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Old 05-17-2022, 02:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: No cold air

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My bad. Post #7 was meant for dtuuri with his '91. '94-'95 when r12 was switched to r134a.
Thank you! I thought it was for the OP, so didn't read it. I'll study it tonight.
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Old 05-17-2022, 11:34 PM   #11
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My bad. Post #7 was meant for dtuuri with his '91. '94-'95 when r12 was switched to r134a.
Not sure everything you wrote applies to my car because you mention pressure readings and I've not made any.

I checked my records and saw that in May, 2001 I had a new compressor installed by a reputable AC specialist. At that time, 2# of R134a was serviced and a conversion kit was installed. A sticker was attached under the hood stating the retrofit was done according to SAE J1661. The mileage then was about 107,000. Some years later, at 214,000 miles, I received an estimate for a new compressor which I opted not to get at that time and after driving another 6,000 miles and not driving at all for four years I'm now finally ready to fix the AC. Do you think any of your previous comments are affected by these facts? I can't seem to find any copies of SAE J1661 online, but I did see more than one version exists and the latest is dated 10 years after my car was retrofitted. The version prior was a year and a half before my car was done.
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Old 05-18-2022, 12:41 AM   #12
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Default Re: No cold air

dtuuri, again my apology for the mixed post. My reply in post #7 answered two different posts and I didn't separate the reply into two posts. Please ignore the last two paragraphs. The first two does apply to your retrofit from r12 to r134a. SAE J1161 refers to specific measures for repair shops to have separate equipment to prevent cross contamination; r12 gauges, hoses, vacuum pump, and reclamation canister with additional r134a gauges, hoses, vacuum pump, etc. No mention of the actual procedure of converting r12 systems to r134a other than what I described. The motor vehicle industry agreed to a procedure after considering the costs to vehicle owners having to bear costs of compliance along with the chemical industry coming up with a safer ozone friendly refrigerant. Older Saturn service manuals and bulletins describe the procedure in detail for every GM vehicle required to have a retrofit if the owner wants ac that used r12 and accepts costs to convert to r134a.
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Old 05-18-2022, 09:08 AM   #13
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Thanks, @fdryer. (My apologies to the OP for hijacking his thread, too.) I've forwarded your comments to my parts store owner who is always helpful with good advice on how to proceed. FWIW, my recent investment in tires, exhaust, wiper motor, brake lines/shoes/drums, alternator and now AC compressor including vacuum pump and gages most certainly exceed the perceived value of my 31 years old car. Did I mention my labor? Or the rust repairs to the rockers and rear frame rail? Or the odometer gears? Yet, I feel it's a good investment. The car purrs like a kitten, gets good mileage, doesn't burn a lot of oil and I get complements too. People can't believe how old it is for how it looks. Other folks driving Saturn S-series and reporting their experiences here have convinced me there's a good chance it can make it another 80,000 miles. I like the odds. Thank you SaturnFans contributors, one and all!
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Old 05-18-2022, 02:44 PM   #14
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dtuuri, with additional car history, I think you're less than a handful of vehicle owners willing to spend personal labor, time and money to maintain a vehicle well past its projected life. Personally, and I don't expect you to follow my suggestions, would be to rebuild your ac system, disassembling everything to flush out all old oil and residual buildup of aluminum shavings from our vane compressors constantly rubbing against aluminum chamber walls even though lubed with a continual flow of lubricating oil. This is seen as grayish oil tinted green from dye.

Disassembly allows flushing hoses and evaporator core. The condenser coil should be replaced as parallel flow condenser coils are not designed like older r12 system serpentine coils. Parallel finned tubing are flat and can collect debris to block/interfere with liquid refrigerant and oil flow to decrease overall cooling. The filter/drier should be replaced too. R12 hoses already absorbed oil for lifetime sealing so its your choice to keep or replace them. The evaporator core rarely fails so flushing it of old oil and any debris can restore its function. This would be a good time to view the evaporator coils with a borescope, gopro, small digital camera or cellphone. Snapping or videoing the evaporator coils may reveal if it collected debris, blocking and interfering with airflow. The thermal expansion valve should be replaced. While there's no evidence of how long txvs last, rebuilding a system justifies replacing the condenser coil, drier, and txv. If reusing the compressor, drain it of oil. There are no procedures or suggestions of flushing compressors because the solvent used may not completely evaporate and may interfere with restoration. Perhaps draining then refilling with pag oil and rotating the compressor shaft and turning the compressor to let oil coat and mix with remaining old oil may help to flush it of remaining oil before refilling with new pag oil. All new seals are needed to replace disconnected fittings. A seal kit should have every seal needed. Condenser coil, drier, txv and compressor may have seals included when buying each part. Pag oil for prelube of O-rings only. Flat seals are not prelubed.

If I left anything out, let me know. There's always something I might miss and can always learn from others.

Last edited by fdryer; 05-18-2022 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 05-18-2022, 04:31 PM   #15
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Default Re: No cold air

@Fdryer - as your humble student and having just completed a total restore on my AC - aren't the o-rings supposed to be lubed with mineral oil and not the PAG oil?

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Pag oil for prelube of O-rings only. Flat seals are not prelubed.

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Old 05-18-2022, 05:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: No cold air

PAGs can be either water-soluble or water insoluble. The water-soluble is definitely not compatible with mineral, so mineral must not be used on the O-rings with that PAG type. I don't know if your PAG (or all automotive A/C PAG) is water-soluble, but why risk it? Use the same oil you are putting in the system to lube things, in all cases.
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Old 05-18-2022, 06:45 PM   #17
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@Fdryer - as your humble student and having just completed a total restore on my AC - aren't the o-rings supposed to be lubed with mineral oil and not the PAG oil?
My replies are becoming less informative with more misinformation. Perhaps my seven decades on 'dis little orb we call Earth has already begun deteriorating of my mind. Mind you, I've never visited any ski area 18x until this past season. Most visits averaged around 5-6 hours with a break for lunch. And not as a casual skier as my quadriceps scream at me after several hours. NJ doesn't have a large ski area so steep terrain is relatively brief requiring repeated returns to enjoy carving.

You are absolutely correct for reminding me of mineral oil prelube on r134a O-rings, NOT mineral oil as I mistakenly posted. I cannot take offense if anyone were to address me as Blockhead for these infractions. Blundering idiot may be another description for me.

Pag oil is synthetic and readily absorbs moisture. If used as prelube on r134a O-rings, it can attract moisture and accelerate corrosion. Mineral oil doesn't attract moisture and always recommended in repair procedures despite the errant post I made.

My last ac repair wasn't successful last year as a discontinued compressor attracted me and didn't work. This led to a suspicion of a worn out txv requiring major work as I damaged the fittings when tightening the replacement into the evaporator coil block: several hours of delicate tube reforming allowed reusing the evaporator coil otherwise the coil would have to be replaced. I left the hvac side panel off to observe for any leaks of dye after recharging the system. None found. The timing belt I put on worked over a year or so before letting go (approximately 1500 miles). A replacement engine cost me around $2500+. A replacement compressor was standing by from last winter but engine death earlier this year halted repairs so I gave the compressor to my go-to shop to put it in since the engine was being replaced and the ac system was opened. The replacement engine worked flawlessly as I put on over a thousand miles since getting my car back. For whatever reason, ac was supposed to work but it didn't. My repair shop mentioned to me to return the car for them to check, suspecting a leak (maybe it was never filled as very little refrigerant was left when I put gauges on). With my uv light and time on my hands, I searched for dye markers everywhere but didn't find any. I evacuated and monitored the vacuum with one or two suspicious hiccups but went ahead before refilling. I guesstimated refrigerant amount from my 80lb canister by comparing low/high side pressures with service manual specs charted with ambient temps and humidity to avoid over filling. That was last week. Today was the second time to use ac on a warm day, without detecting any loss of cooling. I have a temperature probe in the center vent. Garage temps showed 50F center vent@70F ambient. Today showed the same 50F center vent temps@75F ambient. I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed that the hiccups during evacuation were inexplicable events and not a hint of an intermittent leak........ My flawless records of ac repairs are broken with my L300. It's no different from any other vehicle ac system but my good fortune has run out.
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Old 05-19-2022, 10:13 AM   #18
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...The timing belt I put on worked over a year or so before letting go (approximately 1500 miles). ...
What was the cause? (I too have an interference engine with a timing belt...and, because of it, live in constant fear )
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Old 05-19-2022, 03:00 PM   #19
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I can only guess because the engine died on the road and I had to call for a tow. My choice was to tow it to my repair shop I trust and used over the years on things too difficult for me to work on (or brought home for me to examine the damage and if engine damage occurred to tow the car to the shop). My shop called and said the timing belt went and would first try a new belt to see if the engine would rotate. The result was engine damage and suggested junking the car. I said there are used 3.0L engines and he found one.

I can only guess two possibilities why the timing belt broke; although new and stiff out of the box, it may have dried/cured without showing any signs or I didn't perform timing correctly and maybe over tightened idler pulleys. Several crankshaft rotations were needed to ensure tdc was correct while adjusting two fixed idlers and one idler tensioner. I did miss a tooth out of all four camshafts as initial startup didn't indicate anything until I drove when rough running indicated something wrong. Timing was redone and engine running was perfect. In both procedures, I rotated the engine many times, each 720 degrees of crankshaft revolutions equates to setting top dead center. I never felt any hint of bumping valves to pistons on the first or second attempt. In the second attempt to reset timing, I went over everything many times and found it difficult to find one tooth off. Seeing timing marks from an angle, I thought I accounted for paralax errors. Since a very brief slow drive indicated timing was off and resetting seemed to go right, I figured everything was fine. Watching fuel mileage helped to compare before and after with nothing unusual. A specific round trip drive of around 120 miles several times before the belt went seemed to indicate all was well until the engine croaked. I went over my procedures many times in my mind right after my shop told me of engine damage. I honestly do not know if I would have done it any different. As it stands, I'm responsible for what I did and can only suspect over tightening the belt, the belt was sitting on the shelf too long or I damaged the belt from having one tooth off.

Others here did not have issues replacing their 3.0L timing belt.
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Old 05-21-2022, 10:26 PM   #20
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Default Re: No cold air

fdryer, ^that is terrible.
The last time I did one, I was one tooth off. I replaced all the valves and all the pushrods...head bolts...and belt. A memorable experience
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