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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll start with a bit of history on this issue before I jump into my question. I have a 2000 Escort ZX2 with about 165,000 miles. The a/c stopped working in November 09. Didn't seem like a big deal during the winter months, and once it started warming up the cost of repairing the system made me think it wasn't a priority. We just assumed it was a problem with the CCRM. Apparently we were wrong, because we ran into trouble during a 5 hr road trip last weekend (Memorial Day). We smelled a hot/burning smell a few times along the way, my temp gauge wasn't going up and I just wanted to get home, so we kept going. 100 miles from home I heard a "ping"...which was caused by the serpentine belt snapping. When we opened the hood we saw brown liquid sprayed over about a third of the engine compartment. Got towed the rest of the way home (AAA more than paid for itself in that trip!).

Once we got the new serpentine belt, we discovered that the a/c compressor pulley wasn't moving. We had the a/c system discharged...pointless...apparently it had discharged itself all over the place already (still haven't found the blowout point). Took the a/c compressor out and opened it up (see picture below). Not good. Bought a new (refrib) compressor this afternoon, accumulator will be in tomorrow.

Now for my question(s). We're trying to figure out how to flush the condenser. How and where do we disconnect lines? What kind of oil do we need to use in the compressor? I vaguely recall seeing that it's a R134 system, but apparently there's 3 different kinds of oil? PAG oil??

Any other advice as we're moving forward from here? Other than leave it alone and let a professional take care of it...

(I may not be using the proper technical terms here, I'm doing the typing but my husband is doing the work on the car...I figured it was best/easiest to ask for help on here rather than continue searching online driving myself nuts.)

Thanks!

 

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That looks like the clutch bolted to the front of the compressor. When the clutch fail it doesn't contaminate the system. All you need is new clutch unless the compressor shaft snapped off.
If you already discharged the freon then pull a vacuum on it and re-charge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That looks like the clutch bolted to the front of the compressor. When the clutch fail it doesn't contaminate the system. All you need is new clutch unless the compressor shaft snapped off.
If you already discharged the freon then pull a vacuum on it and re-charge.
My husband said that the compressor shaft does turn when he tries to turn it by hand, but it doesn't turn easily. Not sure what that would mean.

If it wasn't a catastrophic failure, what would cause it to discharge everything out of the entire system? There was nothing left in the system when we had it discharged.
 

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With a failure such as that, there was most likely a great amount of heat at the clutch and shaft. This would cause the compressor shaft seal to fail. I would replace the compressor and inspect the system for signs of debris. If it is clean a new orifice tube would be a good thing. Many compressor manufacturers require an accumulator also.Then add PAG oil as per the recommendation on the new compressor-most require PAG in order to keep the warranty. Then pull the system on a vacuum 29.9 inches Hg, for 20 minutes to a half hour (I use a micron gauge) and add the amount of R-134a as per the placard on the car. If the system does look contaminated you can try to flush the condenser. Go to the following link and go to the flushing forum. You will get all the info you need:
Automotive AC Information Forum - ACKITS.COM
 

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Given the age and milage of the vehicle it would be best to pull the condenser and have it pressure tested, and if it is good then have it flushed. A radiator shop can do this. I would replace the high and low pressure lines. That way you replace the oriface and the accumulator (filter Dryer), and all seals. Most new and rebuilt compressor manufacturers REQUIRE all of the aformentioned for the warranty on the compressor. The evaporator should also be flushed. Most REAL parts stores have, or can get you, an A/C flushing kit. I assume you got a compressor AND clutch coil, pulley and shoe(face). Be sure to adjust the clutch gap between the pulley and shoe to specification.
Ditto on the vacuuming mentioned above. I vacuum for 30 minutes then check for leak down. If the system holds a vacuumm then I vacuum for 30 minutes more. This gets the moisture out of the system. When moisture mixes with the refrigerant it creates an acid that can eat away the parts in the system. Also note that FREON is a registered trade name for DuPont refrigerant. You can use any brand name of R-134a refrigerant, or whatever brand is specified by the manufacturer (rebuilder) of the compressor, if any.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the suggestions. From everything that we saw, it looks like royesses was right about the compressor shaft seal blowing. It doesn't look like it was really "catastrophic failure" - not like we read about in what described "black death" anyway.

When we took the orifice tube out it only had a few specks of debris in it. We were quite surprised with how clean it was considering how bad the clutch looked, only a few small specks of "stuff". We did replace the a/c compressor, clutch (obviously, since the clutch was the worst looking part of the whole system - I posted the picture), pulley and shoe as well as the accumulator (original post stated we planned to replace the accumulator), the orifice tube. The system has been flushed and was surprisingly clean.

We're now to the vacuuming part of the process, and since we don't have a way to vacuum the system here at the house we're heading back to the shop to have that portion finished off tomorrow. So far it looks like we're doing good with what we were able to do here on our own (well, what my husband was able to do on his own). He didn't connect the clutch wiring harness yet since the system hasn't been vacuumed and there is no refrigerant added yet - don't want to accidentally turn the a/c on and risk causing damage. But at least the compressor pulley is working and the serpentine belt is doing what it's supposed to do so I can drive the car to the shop!

Thanks again for the help!
 

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Make sure you get it evacuated as soon as possible after installation of the new accumulator. It has dessicate that begins soaking moisture as soon as it is installed. Ideally it should be the last thing hooked up and the evacuation process started immediately thereafter.
 

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Ford AC

Just as well plan on a new condenser while you are at it. Rock Auto had some closeout for less than half the price. :nono:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Make sure you get it evacuated as soon as possible after installation of the new accumulator. It has dessicate that begins soaking moisture as soon as it is installed. Ideally it should be the last thing hooked up and the evacuation process started immediately thereafter.
I'm sorry to ask a potentially stupid question on this, but how else will we learn right?

Anyway, if the system is not hooked up and not running, how does is it soaking up moisture? Just moisture that got into the lines during the repair process, or is it somehow able to suck air in from the environment when it's not running? The electrical harness to the system isn't hooked up yet, there's no way I could accidentally turn it on, so I know the system's not running. We figured it was more or less just a pulley at this point. We called several local shops trying to get in to get the vacuum stuff done today, but no one has any time available. We explained everything that has been done and no one at any shop expressed any concern about waiting until Wednesday when they could fit us in.

Last question - why should we plan to replace the condenser too? Just because it's going to need to be replaced eventually and we've already taken so much of the system apart? If it's just a "will probably go eventually" deal, I'm going to have to wait. So far this repair bill has been more than my bank account was prepared for right now, and the clutch in our Explorer started acting up while I was using it as back up while this car was out....meaning we're looking at clutch repair on the Explorer...and hopefully later than sooner, clutch work on this car.
 

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Allowable moisture content is 10 parts per million. That is what the desiccant can hold. It is always preferable to pull the system down (vacuum) as soon as possible. You should be ok waiting a couple of days to vacuum and recharge. I don't know why you would need a condenser - was it filled with debris? Damaged in any way? With no pressure in the system, the cycling switch will prevent the clutch from engaging so there is no worry about the system operating without a charge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Allowable moisture content is 10 parts per million. That is what the desiccant can hold. It is always preferable to pull the system down (vacuum) as soon as possible. You should be ok waiting a couple of days to vacuum and recharge. I don't know why you would need a condenser - was it filled with debris? Damaged in any way? With no pressure in the system, the cycling switch will prevent the clutch from engaging so there is no worry about the system operating without a charge.
Thanks again Royesses. Nope, there was no debris in the condenser, not damaged in any way. The only damage was to the compressor clutch, and to the serpentine belt after the compressor pulley locked up - and the most debris we saw was in the orifice tube and that was unexpectedly minimal.
 

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Great advice from everyone, but one thing is not mentioned. One thing you SHOULD ALWAYS replace when doing major repairs to anything over 8 yrs old is the O-ring seals (and all seals) on all the freon (134a) lines. These are cheap.

New compressor aren't much more expensive than rebuilt ones and I would highly recommend a new one. Many AC shops will not install rebuilt compressors because many of these are done in mexico and are not done properly ... resulting in many call backs. To get the warranty on the compressor, the accumulator and orifice tube must also be replaced

Replacing condenser and evaporator are judgement calls. Usually, those two will start to develop leaks over time. Could take 20 or 30 years. If the compressor locks up, it could send debris throughout your system. Some of this debris can get lodged in the evaporator, condenser, and orifice tube because these openings are not large. If the lodged debris ever gets loose, it could damage something. Because your compressor did not lock up, and the orifice tube looks clean, I would keep my condenser and evaporator and rock on.

The accumulator is sometimes called a dryer. It does have a desicant (like some shoes or other products you buy) to absorb moisture. The sooner you get the moisture out of the lines (the air in the lines will have moisture in it), the less "used" your desicant is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
In the ongoing saga....

I took the car to the shop yesterday so they could check over everything hubby did, as well as do the vacuum, recharge & leak check. Everything checked out fine, got a clean bill of health, a/c works great. Super cold, colder than I ever remember it being before. After 7 months of not having a/c I'm not really sure I like it anymore. Plus I was getting really good gas mileage with no a/c - about 340-350 miles per tank as opposed to 300-310.

Anyway. Here's the thing. When I left the shop with the a/c running, the car feels quite a bit different, like the a/c is sucking all the power out of her or something. Everyone here has told me that's normal and I'm making it into a bigger deal than it is just because I've forgotten what it's like to have working a/c. Probably true. But, here's the other oddity. She has a "hiccup" that I didn't notice before. It feels almost like a bump in the road, but it feels completely different in the gas pedal and shifter stick. It's like...well, like a hiccup - like losing a bit of power for a split second. I remember feeling something like this before when I had a small hole in a vacuum line and another time when my air filter was dirty so I'm hoping the air filter is just dirty. I have a K&N and cleaned it about 2 months ago, but I live off an unpaved road so I do a good amount of dusty road driving. I didn't notice this "hiccup" before going to the shop yesterday. I'm also 100% convinced that the air blowing from the vents when I just have the vent fan turned on and the temp setting set to cold is MUCH colder than it was yesterday before my visit to the shop. If the air had blown this cold from the vent before, I probably would have opted for the compressor bypass pulley rather than spending $400 repairing the a/c.

So here's my newest question in this repair - Is there any chance that something funky is going on and the a/c isn't turning off even when it's turned off according to the knob? If it's possible, what could cause the a/c to run constantly? The "engine" noises (I'm never sure what noises under the hood are engine noises and which are other under the hood stuff noises) are different now - there's definitely some sound that wasn't there yesterday, but it's there even if I have the a/c turned off.

What do you think? Am I just totally paranoid or could I have something funky going on? (When we replaced the alternator a few years ago we had to replace twice because the first one was a dud and died when we got up to hwy speeds, so I do know that funky stuff happens sometimes.)

Thanks again!
 

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Here's a few posibilities

The "hiccup" is when the AC compressor clutch kicks on and off. You will feel a small jerk as it kicks on, and a small burst of power when accelerating when it kicks off. That's normal.

On the vent fan blowing colder with the AC off. Measure the temperature in this condition and get back with us. It can take a while for the evaporator to warm up, so it could be coulder on vent for few minutes after turning the AC off. Best way to be sure that the AC is not running, is to wait for this to occur, pop the hood, get out of the car, and check to see if the AC clutch is spinning. If it is, the AC is still on.

Sounds: An AC will make a sound when the clutch is engaged. Hopefully its not a loud sound. It should not be loud. If so, the ac shaft bearing could be bad, or the compressor internals where not rebuilt correctly. Its hard to tell on this one because it is subjective to your ear. However, you should be able to trun the AC compressor easily with your hands when the car is off and cool.. It won't free spin, but you can easily turn it. If not, then perhaps there is an issue with the Compressor, and your "hiccup" will be larger than it should be. Again .. subjective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The a/c is definitely on all the time now. My husband flushed and refilled the radiator, turned the car on and turned the temp dial all the way to hot and it's still blowing very cold air. With the hood open we can hear the compressor click - kick on regardless of what setting we have it on (a/c, vent, defrost). The compressor clicks everytime the dial is turned. From off to foot vent - click, from off to foot & face - click, face only - click. You get the idea, the compressor clicks on constantly.

Also, the hiccup I was feeling happens when the a/c is turned "off" - theoretically off anyway since it seems to be on all the time unless the vent is turned off. We did notice a "hiss" from the a/c pressure line when we turned the car off at least once.
 

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Maybe this will help? Attached schematics for heat and AC systems. Maybe the ac relay contacts are stuck closed(welded) from the original failure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Maybe this will help? Attached schematics for heat and AC systems. Maybe the ac relay contacts are stuck closed(welded) from the original failure?
Thanks for the schematics, I'll pass them along to my husband in the morning.

What sort of potential short term risks am I running driving the car while we're trying to figure this out? I don't have an alternate vehicle right now - our alternate (Explorer) has a crapped out clutch - and I live about an hour from work. If Stein is right and the "hiccup" I feel is actually the a/c cycling on and off like it should when I'm accelerating, is having the a/c running constantly actually going to hurt anything? If we weren't heading into another spell of low to mid 90's, I'd be tempted to just unplug the dang thing again! :)
 

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personally, i would just go without the ac, but that's just me... higher MPG, more power, less to go wrong...
 

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Running the AC all the time won't cause any damage except to the fuel mileage. Many drivers never turn it off in hot humid climates. When it is humid i like to turn off the ac and just go to vent position a couple of minutes before my destination to help drain the condensate out of the evaporator/heater enclosure. Helps get rid of musty odors. When you floor the accelerator the compressor is momentarily disabled to give you more power for passing. That may be what you feel. However there is a 5 to 25 horsepower loss from the compressor running and this makes the vehicle feel sluggish. You most likely are not used to that since you had no AC for a long time.
 

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...Maybe the ac relay contacts are stuck closed(welded) from the original failure?
Hmmmm. And if this were the case, the A/C would not cycle with pressure, possibly freezing the evaporator
[the] cold is MUCH colder than it was yesterday
Further, if the radiator fan is not on, the high side pressure might very well escalate to the point of
like the a/c is sucking all the power out of her or something.
Which would be quite noticeable on a 4 cylinder engine.
-Just some thoughts.

KCNC06, you have done an extremely good job of describing your A/C problems and symptoms and keeping us informed.

Thank You.
 
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