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Diagnosing A/C Problems

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by Reklaw, April 19, 2017.


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    1. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      I did not see anything specific to diagnosing A/C problems so I thought I would post one here.
      2004 XLS.
      Last year I discovered a terrible leak around my compressor and replaced it and the dryer. I pulled a vacuum for at least an hour, maybe 2(i can't remember). Then refilled and had cold air for a little while. I don't know if the system stopped working over time or if it stopped all at once over the summer because around the same time the control for my blend door stopped functioning and all i was getting was hot air. I had re-checked the system pressure at the end of the summer last year and it was still good. However, I noticed that my low-pressure lines were not cold which was leading me to believe that maybe my orifice tube was clogged which meant that maybe my accumulator/dryer went bad?

      I just wanted to see if anyone had any advice before I got the system emptied so I could work on it. Please if anyone has any advice I look forward to hearing it, and if there is a thread I missed to read up on or this should have been posted elsewhere let me know and I will correct.
       
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    3. imp

      imp Well-Known Member

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      @Reklaw
      Check clutch cycling rate. If compressor turns "on" and quickly turns back "off", and given normal amount of charge present, the Pressure Cycling Switch may be faulty, and should be checked. imp
       
    4. c_monster70

      c_monster70 New Member

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      IMO. Anytime the system is opened the orifice filter should be replaced.

      Assuming the system is fully charged then I think you're on the right track. However, aftermarket compressors are notorious leakers, so I'd make absolutely sure the system is fully charged before doing anything else. After that imp's advice would be a good second step prior to tearing the system back apart.
       
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    5. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      Thanks c_monster and imp. Yes, what has set me down this path is that the system is fully charged and as there is a little die in the system I did look at everything with the UV light this morning and did not see any leaks anywhere. Before I replaced the failed compressor it was evident that the compressor failed and was leaking. I did not replace the orifice filter because of course it was stuck and i was afraid of breaking it but I guess i'm going to just have to break it and use a long screw to grab it and pull it out, seems like that is what everyone does.

      As far as imp's advice, I will double check tomorrow or Friday when the weather is sunnier and hotter here in southern Pennsylvania. I'm fairly positive that my compressor is not cycling off quickly, hopefully I get a chance to check it in the next few days.
       
    6. plasticseng

      plasticseng Active Member

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      It's not unusual for a failed compressor to clog the orifice tube with shavings. It is an inexpensive part that needs to be replaced anytime you have a component failure. It can sometimes be a pain to get out, but the system just won't perform with any kind of debris in it.

      After a compressor failure, the whole system needs to be flushed out also. Changing the orifice tube won't fix it for long. Once any kind of shavings break loose from the condenser, evaporator, etc, they will clog the orifice and you will be right back where you started.

      I've been to Glen Rock / Shrewsbury on business a few times. You have some beautiful farm land up that way.
       
      Last edited: April 19, 2017
    7. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      Yes, Born and Bred here. Moved away for a few years but I don't plan on leaving again.

      Anyway, temperature here is about 75 right now and my compressor is definitely cycling so it look like my first step is to check out the pressure switch. Plasticseng, believe me, I purchased the orifice tube but when i couldn't get the old one out i just gave up and put the system back together. I'm fairly positive that it was just the seals on the compressor that failed so i'm stilling hoping things are not clogged up.
       
    8. Number Twelve

      Number Twelve Active Member

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      The best I can do is confirm what everybody else said. The last time I did a car compressor, the first 3 rebuilt compressors leaked, each one at a different place.:mad: And the orifice tube? I've never gotten one out in one piece.:( You just have to assume it's going to break and think about how you're going to get the pieces out.
       
    9. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      Hey Guys, I did some more advanced checking into my issue. Hooked my manifold gauge set up and found the low side pressure at 90. Obviously this is high but I don't know what the cause is. I did some googleing and it appears maybe it is the refrigerant control valve or something in the compressor. Anyone have any ideas?
       
    10. Joe in NY

      Joe in NY Active Member

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      Could be weak compressor, orifice is wide open, if you have rear A/C could be that the TXV is wide open (however this would flood the suction with fluid be cold). What was your high side ?
       
    11. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      I have a trick for getting orifice tubes out, I apply 150PSI of air in the low side to push it out. STAY OUT OF THE PATH, IT COMES OUT LIKE A BULLET!

      As for compressors, I buy OEM Motorcraft's from salvage yards, you can get them on ebay cheap.

      I'd never buy a reman/rebuilt compressor, if you don't use a used motorcraft I would buy a brand new motorcraft or a brand new 4seasons.
       
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    12. lincolnshibuya

      lincolnshibuya Active Member

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      I replaced my orifice tube 3x and I only used a long nose plier to pull it out, there's even a tool you could rent in parts store if you want it easier but the plier will do.

      with that high pressure on the low side the suspect could be a bad compressor and/or open orifice tube but we need to know what your high side pressure. If the are both high then it's overcharged which will not cool at all.

      on some models there is a pressure regular control valve (like on my LS and Jaguar S-Type) which gets clogged (works on high rpm but idle due to high low side and normal high side) and needs to be replaced but on the explorer there's none.

      I have bad luck with 4seasons, they don't last that long compared to Motorcraft, the 2nd replacement I have is a used one from the junkyard with 185k miles and still functions likes a champ. My 03 navigator with 220k and 98 Continental with 145k also works fine. I have bad luck with the motorcraft compressor on my mountaineer since it exploded at around 105k miles and sent a lot of debris in the system.. this is my 2nd set of condenser and accumulator/drier too.

      There's a also a filter at the rear ac which you access outside (near the rear driver side wheel) and that needs to be replaced too. It's a filter prior to the rear expansion valve.
       
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    13. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      Thanks for the replies everyone. The high pressure was low. Like around 100. I'll hook it up again today to verify the numbers and post on here. From what it sounds like though I will have to get the system evacuated so I can crack it open.
       
    14. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      Ok everyone. Thank you for helping an idiot that needs to be paying attention to what he is doing. First off, my Explorer does not have rear air and I have the manual controls.

      Now, I just warmed up the Explorer, hooked up the gauges and realized I was doing the diagnostic check wrong. I was opening up the valves underneath the actual gauges because in my mind the pressure had to flow through there. I read my instructions and realized I was doing it wrong so I shut those valves so i could do this properly.

      So, my low pressure is reading 30-35 and high pressure is reading 100-125. It's about 90 degrees outside.
      My compressor was cycling but not as often as i noticed it was the other day. Also, when my compressor shut off the low pressure reading jumped way up quickly. I know you guys will tell me what that means but i'm going to search for that in the meantime.
       

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    15. Joe in NY

      Joe in NY Active Member

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      Procedure for checking pressures:

      Driver window part way open (like half way), MAX AC selected, fan on MAX, temp set to Coldest, engine rpm @ 1,500 rpm. On a 90* day at idle it shouldn't cycle at all. At 1,500 rpm you should expect some cycling. (Long on, short off)

      Also, when the compressor cuts out the low pressure is going to rise quickly, as it should.
       
    16. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Was this 4Seasons "100% new" or "re-manufactured/rebuilt" ???

      Personally, I do not see how one can rebuild a scroll compressor... hmm maybe that's why I'm only seeing them in NEW on RockAuto...

      New Motorcraft $307.79 | http://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=1126581

      New 4Seasons $164.89 | http://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=1251888

      Used Motorcraft $35.50 | http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Explorer-2002-2003-2004-A-C-AC-compressor-02-03-04-/292067136010
       
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    17. imp

      imp Well-Known Member

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      @TechGuru
      Is there any compilation of compressor usage as to type: Scroll, Axial-Piston, or other? Only rebuild I could imagine on a scroll would be bearings, which one could guess would be a critical alignment issue if worn out. imp
       
    18. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      Joe in NY. The only part of the diagnosis procedure I did not do was rev the engine to 1500 rpm's. My low pressure line is also not cold at all which it should be and my high pressure line is very hot as i would expect.
       
    19. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Here is what my pressures look like at idle, max a/c full fan, about 75 deg out.



      R134a is supposed to be filled by weight not pressure, but here is a chart for reference.

      [​IMG]
       
    20. lincolnshibuya

      lincolnshibuya Active Member

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      the 4seasons is new, along with new condenser, orifice tube and accumulator. It didn't leak, the bearing is making noises (not the clutch pulley bearing) luckily I pulled it out before it will explode. the noises it made is not fun to hear..
       
    21. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      How much oil did you put in it and what kind?

      Calls for 9oz of PAG46 without rear a/c and 13oz PAG46 with rear a/c.
       
    22. lincolnshibuya

      lincolnshibuya Active Member

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      did that per the compressor's instruction.
       
    23. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      I know this thread go a little off topic but I figured I'd keep posting with my trouble shooting. Same results as before. I hooked the gauges up and about 30 low side and around 100 high side. I unplugged the sensor and jumped it so the compressor would stay running and the pressures did not change much. I waited until the high pressure line got noticeably hot and then checked the lines right by the firewall and they are the same temperature. Upon further inspection, the high pressure line is hot enough that you can't touch it running into the condenser and it is ambient temperature coming out of the condenser. My conclusion is that there is a blockage in the condensor? What is your guys' opinion on that?
       
    24. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this but I want to keep it up to day to help people in the future. I ordered the compressor "kit", and condenser from Rock Auto. They arrived on Thursday so in the afternoon I cracked open the system. Followed the instructions in the good old haynes manual for removing the condenser and replaced that. Finally got the orifice tube out and found metal shavings on it so I confirmed that was at least part of my problem. Pulled the accumulator and got the new one ready to go in. I had a bought a can of a/c system flush from advance auto and proceeded to flush my evaporator. Well, that little can was clearly not enough. So I called around on Friday morning and found one to rent and bought a quart of a/c system flush. Got it home, hooked up the compressor I barrowed from my dad and flushed the evaporator until I had clear liquid coming out. It was very flourecent green. I then continued to blow clean air through the line every time the compressor got back up to full pressure so that I could get the most solvent out of the evaporator as possible.

      Getting the a/c compressor was a paint. I couldn't get the stud out. Finally I figured out an acceptable was to get them out and when I tried draining the oil from the compressor it was almost completely empty. Now that the compressor was off the car I flushed the other a/c lines and proceeded with the new compressor. The new compressor had 5.4 ounces of oil in it already so I dumped it out and made sure I had 9 ounces because that is what is listed on the radiator shroud. Reinstalled the compressor, new serpentine belt while I was at it, hooked the lines back up to the condenser, put the new orifice tube in and connected everything up, checking the o-rings and oiling them up in the process. I then got my gauge set and vacuum pump ready to pull a vacuum as I am paranoid about letting humid air into the accumulator. Last thing I did was connect the accumulator and then immediately pulled a vacuum. System held a vacuum and the needle did not budge for at least a half hour while I cleaned up. I had to stop the process at that point last night so i'm going to vacuum the system for an hour this morning before I start the recharge process.
       
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    25. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Recharge by weight not pressure. Use pure R134a without added crap. Preferably DuPont Suva.
       
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    26. Reklaw

      Reklaw Elite Explorer

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      I know this update is 2 weeks late but as they say, better late than never.
      I had been using plain old 134a from Advance, the carquest stuff in the can with the blue label. I had an empty can so I used my kitchen scale to weigh it and then could zero it. I also weight the can tap so I could zero as much as possible. Now, the kitchen scale I was using was just a cheap one from walmart but a 12 fluid ounce can of 134a came in weighing 12.3 ounces of material so I figured that was pretty close.

      With a 2x6 laying across my airbox for the scale and everything hooked up I started adding the refrigerant and jumped the cut off switch to force the compressor on. After I no longer had to jump the cut off switch any more I got my wood working bar clamp out and set it up to keep the engine running at 1.5k and put the 3rd can in. I now have ice cold a/c. Just took a trip from Pennsylvania to Tennessee and had ice cold a/c all the way there and back.

      Thank you to everyone for all the help and I hope this thread can help many others along the way.
       

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