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2001 Duratec SES
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The AC in my ~70k mile, 2001 Duratec stopped blowing cold a while ago. When I turned it on, I would hear an occasional "click" under the hood, followed by a slight increase in idle. Because of summer heat, I took it to the shop last week. Here is their written diagnosis: "Inspect AC. Connect pressure gauges. Check pressures are off. Add one 12 ounce can freon. Pressures still are off. The AC compressor is not pumping internally."

They said I would need a new compressor, dryer, and condenser, and parts and labor for all that would be $1300. Thinking I would tackle this myself, I asked them to evacuate the system, which they did. My plan is to first remove the compressor, but I have a few questions.

Assuming I can get the compressor out, is there some way to diagnose whether the dryer and condenser actually need to be replaced? I'd like to avoid replacing them if they don't need it--especially the condenser, since it looks hard to remove.

Any tips for removing the compressor in a Duratec? I see differing methods posted here and on Youtube. I was going to attempt to remove it from the top after removing one or both of the fans.

Lastly, now when I turn on the AC, there is no "click" under the hood or change in idle. Is that because the system was evacuated, or does this seem unusual?

Thank you!
 

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make sure the AC clutch is actually engaged and center section spinning. compressor may not be bad
 

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Since they evacuated the system there is not enough pressure to close the low pressure switch, so it is normal.
The dryer should be replaced since it has never been replaced before. It is a good practice to do so but I have replaced the compressor without replacing the dryer and did not have an issue if the system has been historically leak free. If you ever want to even try to make a warranty claim on the compressor you need to replace the dryer, condenser and orifice tube along with a system flush of all piping and evaporator. However you will never be able be successful with out a professional receipt for all the work.
I have never replaced the condenser on any of my compressor replacement but I never had a compressor that disintegrated internally. They say the condenser can not be flushed successfully.
It would have been good to know what the system pressures were to tell if the compressor was actually bad.

One can will not bring up the pressures to normal if the system has leaked all out. A dye should be injected to find potential leaks. I never had a compressor in 40 years of repair my own that would turn and not function relatively well. I did have one experience "Black Death" which seized the compressor. Basically the compressor grenades internally. I replaced the dryer and compressor and flushed the system and got two years+ on the new compressor .
 

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^+1. It's recommended when replacing the compressor to also replace the accumulator (dryer) and orifice tube. The shop didn't add very much if all they put in was a 12oz. can of r134a. Your system holds 34oz. of r134a and a total of 7oz. of pag #46 oil.
 

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They may have pulled a fuse since the pumped the system down. You can check for power at the clutch. I don't know if there is anything that stops the system from running "dry" or not. (My older cars do not have anything that would do that.) A visual inspection of the condenser should give you an idea as to whether it may need to be replaced or not. A leak will usually be identified by a dirt/dust build up. The oil in the system will "wet" the area of the leak and attract dirt. Look around fittings more so than in the actual condenser as you will probably have a slow leak if that is in fact what you have. Knowing the pressures would have helped you in determining if there was a leak.

If your compressor's clutch works and the compressor turns I would pull a vacuum on the system and see how it holds before opening anything up. If you can pull a good vacuum or not then you can decide what to do next. I would definitely install a new dryer if you open the system. (I don't really understand how they were able to add a can of freon if the compressor wasn't pumping. I do not recall ever being able to do that and I would be surprised if the entire system held much more than 3 cans of freon.) I could see maybe needing a compressor and probably needing a clutch but not a condenser. In my experience the dryer is always replaced if you open up the lines. It sounds like they are selling you everything but the parts inside the car.
 

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^ If the compressor wasn't running, they may have jumpered the low cycle switch to get it to engage to take the can. I also wonder if your air gap is too large to pull in? Or if the cycle switch is faulty? Or you have a sizeable leak?
 

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I think I have always be able to get a full can into the system even before starting the car by pulling a deep vacuum on the system. I flip the can over and pull in liquid. But never if you don't pull a vacuum, you need the compressor to pull it in and then you want to pull in a vapor.
 

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As noted above, replace the accumulator / dryer and orifice tube when ever the system has been opened up.

I have always managed to get 1 can to 1.5 cans into an empty system before turning on the AC. I put 2 cans in warm water (maybe 110 deg F) and then fill with the warm cans upside down (liquid fill). Of course, before adding anything I will evacuate the system down to a less than millimeter or so of mercury and let it sit for an hour or so under vacuum to be sure the vacuum holds (i.e., no leaks in the system).
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I really appreciate the info. It sounds like before opening the system or removing anything, I should: (1) check if the AC clutch is engaging and (2) pull a vacuum on the system to see if it holds.

I checked both AC clutch fuses, and they both looked fine. To check the clutch operation, I assume I need to disconnect the connector on the compressor and check for power. I assume the connector is the one in the photo below, but please let me know if there's a different one hidden somewhere. Assuming there's power at the female side of this connector when the AC is switched on in the car, then do I somehow run 12V to the male/compressor side of the connector and see if the clutch engages? Any tips for doing this with the compressor still in the car? I couldn't remove the connector with my hands. Maybe it would come off with long needle nose pliers, or maybe the right side fan needs to be removed to disconnect it?

To pull a vacuum, I need to get a vacuum pump and gauge set, which I'll look for.

Thanks again.
IMG_7329.JPG
 

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Suggest looking at Harbor Freight for the gauges and pump. Best deal I found and they work just fine.

And, yes...the arrow IS pointing to the wire connector in the 2nd photo. The connector release tab faces down and is somewhat of a pain to get at due to close quarters. Can't remember if it can be better accessed from underneath.
 
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