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Is A/C Failing?

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by clarkworthley, June 14, 2011.

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    1. clarkworthley

      clarkworthley New Member

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      I started hearing a new noise a few weeks ago under the hood but couldn't isolate it. I thought it might be a failing A/C compressor as this was a problem recently with my daughter's car. Took it to the shop and they took off the belt and said that the belt tensioner needed to be replaced. Sounded reasonable as my 99 Explorer has 150K (mostly excellent) miles on it. They replaced it but when I picked up the vehicle, I noticed the noise was still there. They said drive it a bit and if its still a problem bring it back. I did so today and lo-and-behold, the a/c needs a major repair which will set me back $1,223.93! This includes a new condenser which doesn't seem necessary. Mind you that this wasn't a concern last week and I might have led them to this diagnosis.

      Since it is still blowing ice cubes ever since I added some refrigerant last year, is this something that I need to hop on? The noise, which admittedly does sound like a soft metal-on-metal, doesn't seem to be getting any worse. What is the downside to holding off on the repair at least for now? What are the chances of a failure without further warning? Money is extremely tight but this is our only vehicle until I get a job.
       
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    3. gmanpaint

      gmanpaint Back in 5 minutes Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      If this is your only vehicle, & your certain its the compressor, just don't use the a/c at all.

      If your funds are non existent, do what most of us poor folk do...Learn how to do the repairs yourself. There is an a/c sub-forum here just for that reason.

      I would at least take it to a couple more shops for an estimate / diagnoses.
       
    4. clarkworthley

      clarkworthley New Member

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      Thanks for the reply gman. Let me clarify. My concern is not losing the a/c. it is disabling the car if the serpentine belt is rendered useless from a bad compressor. If was sure that the compressor is about to fail completely then i am ready to do the repair myself. That isn't the issue but the cost of the parts is. The compressor alone is $200 from Autozone and the other parts needed are an additional $100 or so. The purge and recharge of the freon will be at least $100. So my question to the forum is am I risking disabling the vehicle if I don't repair the a/c system or are there other problems (besides the loss of a/c) if the compressor is shot.

      As an aside, because of this forum I was able to stop the 4W high & 4W low dashboard lights from flashing. I disconnected the battery for 20 minutes and apparently this rebooted the control module and reset the lights. thanks for that
       
      Last edited: June 15, 2011
    5. gmanpaint

      gmanpaint Back in 5 minutes Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Just carry the tools needed to swap out a shorter belt and bypass the compressor if it breaks. 3/8 ratchet or breaker bar is all thats needed to loosen the tension on the pulley.

      Your asking a hypothetical question here. Hard to tell you what to do with "what if's". Like I said b4, get more estimates and another place to diagnose it.
       
    6. firepop5

      firepop5 Active Member

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      What engine do you have? My 96 5.0 has 2 idler pullies and 1 tensioner pulley. Any one of the three can make that noise. Be sure it's not just another bad pulley.
       
    7. clarkworthley

      clarkworthley New Member

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      It has a 4.0 SOHC 6 cylinder. Besides the a/c compressor, it has the p/s pump, water pump, alternator, idler, drive shaft and tensioner on the same belt.
      I like the shorter belt and breaker bar idea. Thanks
       
    8. ranger7ltr

      ranger7ltr Elite Explorer

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      Before jumping off the deep end...

      Check the entire serpentine belt for missing rubber..A chunk of missing belt can give that same soft metallic clicking sound...And every roller the missing part comes in contact with will generate a clicking noise...

      Now if it IS the compressor making the noise then you have a couple of choices...Use it until it stops, disable it with a shorter belt, get it fixed, or diy... The compressor knocking usually is due to lack of lubrication or overheating also due to lack of oil...And bits of aluminum and teflon will be flowing throughout the system as it beats itself into slag...

      Having to replace more than the compressor is very common... The condensor cannot thoroughly be flushed out; there will be debris trapped inside that you cannot remove... That is why the condensor needs replacing if the compressor blows up...The teflon and aluminum bits inside will coat the hoses and other components in the system and that can be cleaned if there is no evidence of leakage or external damage...Age, heat cracks in the hose, dirty spots all necessitate replacement of the rubber hoses or they will fail in the future...

      Obviously when you open the system you will replace the accumulator and the orifice tube... Look at the tube and see if there is any gray or black debris on it...If the debris is melted onto it the system got really hot and you can count on this crap being all through the system...

      About the only part of the system that would stay is the evaporator...

      Good luck on what you find...I hope it is not the a/c system...
       

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