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Discussion Starter #1
Some of you may recall the events several months back when I started a thread (on my dad's account) about what ended up being a locked up A/C compressor clutch. To this day the A/C compressor is still frozen solid. With the summer months [eventually] approaching, I'd like to be able to cruise for two hours without baking in the process.

As it is now, the clutch on the compressor is new. Immediately after the old clutch was replaced, I tested the A/C and the system ran normally: frosted up A/C lines under the hood and nice, cool air in the cabin. However the compressor locked up after about 10 minutes of running, so I disconnected the clutch's coil pack so I would be able to use defrost etc. without frying my new clutch.

As I said, I make a trip every so often that is two hours one way, and I want my A/C when those summer temps make their return. My questions (finally!) are these:

How involved is the process of removing and replacing the compressor?
How long should it take for a moron like me to do it?
Should I have a dealership discharge the system or will it be okay to release the refrigerant?

Another thing I was wondering is this - the A/C system had been intermittent since I've had the car. Is it possible that the oil level inside the compressor was low and on that last long trip with the A/C engaged, it simply burned itself out and locked up?

And thanks guys for all being so willing to help out with me and my car in the past. We both appreciate it. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So it's still best to have it discharged properly. As far as recharging goes, I understand you can do it yourself -- there are cans of R134a you can buy off the shelf?
 

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R 134a is CFC free, You don't need a special license to handle it and it doesn't harm the Ozone.

+ it's only about $8.00 a can
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sounds good to me. So basically all I need is to get my hands on a new compressor, discharge the system, unbolt the old one from the block and unhook the lines, then bolt the new one in and charge it up. Can it really be that simple?
 

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If you replace the compressor, it is highly recommended that you replace both the accumulator and orifice tube. If you don't, you may not have optimal performance with the new compressor. Also, to best charge the system you need to apply at least 25 in. of vacuum to the system for at least 30 minutes and let it hold for another 30 minutes. This both makes sure there aren't any leaks and removes the moisture that can enter when the lines are disconnected. Moisture in the system hurts performance and can cause premature wear. I would recommend replacing the actual compressor and other components yourself and then taking to a shop to get charged up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's what I was thinking. Do the "big bucks" work on my own then let the pros take care of the 'delicate' stuff.

I was thinking about a used compressor, probably from a local pick a part. Are compressors things that tend to fail often? I mean, would the chances of a used one failing within a couple years be great enough to warrant buying a new or remanufactured unit?

Also, the orifice tube - where is that located? Is it hard to get at?
 

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I don't think the risk of a used compressor is worth it. The cost of getting the system charged will be upwards of $50 (maybe less if you can get a good deal), and if you have to do it twice you've shelled out however much for the first charge plus the compressor. Besides it's hard to know how good any used compressor will be. You just don't know if the system had a leak, was low on oil, has bearing issues, etc.

The orifice tube is located in the small line that runs from the condensor to the evaporator. You can buy the orifice tube by itself for a couple dollars, but if I'm not mistaken on the 97 you'll need a "repair kit" to splice it in with the tube. The alternative and in my opinion better solution is to just buy the entire section of line. It will include a new orifice tube, will cost about the same as using the repair kit, and you won't have to deal with cutting the old line.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Is this that line? http://www.napaonline.com/masterpages/NOLMaster.aspx?PageId=470&LineCode=TEM&PartNumber=282610&Description=A/C+Liquid+Line+w/+Orifice+Tube

Seems like an awful lot more than just the tube, which was like $2.50. Getting to the end of that tube on the evaporator side to replace, is that going to be a big deal? I have no idea where it is, is it all the way behind the firewall? Sometimes I wish I had a heated garage with a lift.

It just seems like a shame about that compressor though; I spent $100 on a clutch thinking that was the problem when in reality it was the compressor. And here you always get a new clutch on a new compressor.

Anyone want a used (like new) clutch assembly? :zbash:
 

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Yes, that's the line. I think you could get that cheaper on RockAuto.com. Like I stated above, with the position of the orifice tube in the metal line, you can't just pull it out and replace it. You have to cut the line and use 2 compression fittings to "repair" it, hence the repair kit. I find this method uglier and it introduces more variables that could lead to leaks. The end of that tube on the evaporator side is right by the firewall. That's actually the easiest line of the whole system to remove in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I definitely agree with you about the repair kit - the more fittings and connections you put in the system, the greater chance that something will end up leaking. As far as I know there are no leaks in the system since it's kept its charge over the past 12 1/2 years, so I want to make sure I don't do anything stupid to compromise that.

Due to slight budget constraints (they're cutting hours again at work...) I think I'm going to replace the accumulator one day, go for the orifice tube line another day, then knock out the compressor another day. Plus, that reduces the chances that the car will be out of commission for any extended period of time when I might need it.

As far as discharging the system, what's the best way to do that? I did read that there's a valve or something (kind of like the valve on tires) that you press in to let the pressure out, is that the port that's capped on the line near the air cleaner box? ... Or should I just try and find a shop that'll discharge it for me?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
:rolleyes: Big 'duh' on my part there.

Okay, so, my plan!

1) Get system discharged, most likely at a/c shop.
2) Purchase and replace accumulator.
3) Purchase and replace orifice tube line.
4) Purchase and replace (remf'd) compressor.
5) Evacuate and recharge system at shop.
6) Enjoy the restored coolness in my car. :cool:
 

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Don't try to discharge it like that; that stuff is cold. Just have a shop do it.
It's cold and pretty bad fro your lungs. X2 on having a shop discharge it.

Fyi if there is frost on your AC lines when its operating that usually indicates that it has an improper charge. Might be worth checking out before you go buy a compressor.
 

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:rolleyes: Big 'duh' on my part there.

Okay, so, my plan!

1) Get system discharged, most likely at a/c shop.
2) Purchase and replace accumulator.
3) Purchase and replace orifice tube line.
4) Purchase and replace (remf'd) compressor.
5) Evacuate and recharge system at shop.
6) Enjoy the restored coolness in my car. :cool:
***use leather gloves and chemical splash googles *** freon out of a can will freeze eyeballs and skin. That is exactly how it gets the car cold. Work safe or don't do it.

Harbor freight shopping list: (you will be ahead of a shop doing it, and you will have it for other cars). I used this for 3 cars already, more than paid for itself. You just need a shop to do the discharge, should be less than 30 bucks.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=92649 ($39 or less if you wait, I paid $29).

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=98074 (There is a 2.7 model in the stores, a few bucks more, this one is actually more than enuf)

Both of the above are excellent, I know a tech who uses those tools daily for years. Do not use those walmart death cans and gauges...learn how to charge A/C with the dual manifold. You can get very close on the freon charge by using a diet scale. Do not use any additives, sealers, enhancers etc. in the system. Pure R134a. Use PAG 46 oil only. Prelube the compressor, add oil to the new accumulator. Do not flush unless you have black fragments in the system. You should add about 5-6 oz of oil (I believe there is 8 total but you will have some left). Its better to have a bit more than less). Check the oil capacity.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=97576

You can also search for 20% coupons, they come up here and there. Sign up for their specials.


Buy new O-rings for any fitting you open. Use NYLOG if you can get it on the O-rings, prevents leaks and dryout.
________
Aceline cam
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yikes, it looks like things just got a whole lot more complicated!

As I said, I think I'm going to leave the charging and discharging to the guys at the shop. But the replacement of parts I will most likely be doing myself.

Aside from the 'raw main' parts (being the compressor, accumulator and orifice tube line... I think I'm going to order them all from RockAuto), is there anything else I will need? I assume replacement O rings would come packaged with the new parts? And is there any prep I would need to do to the equipment before I hook it all up? Right now my mind pictures simply bolting and unbolting parts. As I said, I'll be taking the car to the pros to have them charge it up for me.

As far as the compressor goes, I know for sure that it's shot for good. It's still locked up tight as a drum - won't budge. The last time I had the clutch engaged it locked up the pulley completely and it was smoking my serpentine belt; obviously something you wouldn't want to persist for long (or repeat many times).

Also, good news! I just ordered both shop manuals off ebay. $30 for both, shipped.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)

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ackits.com is the greatest. I buy all my a/c stuff from them.


The harbor freight post may help others in the future who may want to do their own A/C work. Again, those tools were less than what places wanted to charge me to do A/C service. It starts at $125 here.
________
SexyBarbie
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Of course. It is yet to be determined what the places around me are going to ask to do what I need them to do, hopefully it's less than $100 for a simple evac/recharge. Heck, if I can find someone to just evacuate the system for me I'd charge it myself.

It looks like I'm going to have to replace all components related to the A/C system. A member on the ackits forums mentioned that all the crap that the compressor likely shot out as it was dying is now clogging up every part of my system. Everything needs to go, with the exception of the evaporator if I can flush it properly. However it looks like there's some special equipment needed to do even that so I fear I'll have to simply replace it.
 
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