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Explorer 2012 AC compressor Smoking


April 21, 2014
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
2012 Ford Explorer Ltd

I have an explorer 2012 ltd (48K miles) that I took to go on vacation.

While driving I saw smoke coming out of the front side of the engine. At first I though it was a seized brake caliper (because both rears had that issue) but the rim was cold. Then I noticed melted black rubber underneath the engine compartment. (I guess from the seal inside the compressor), because the main belt is fine.

Afterwards I only had hot air and also noticed the pulley ( I'm assuming ) was making clunking noise.

Would this be a total AC overall, or just the clutch assembly, or maybe just the AC compressor?


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Sounds like the compressor clutch failed. They don't normally fail without a reason.

My best guess is that the compressor locked up causing the compressor clutch to grenade.


That would make a lot of sense.

Now, should i only replace the AC compressor assembly (I guess it includes the clutch and pulley)? Also is there a way to change the compressor without losing the freon, or do I need to have it vacuum?

Best advice is to replace the compressor and the clutch, they usually come as an assembly unless you specify otherwise.

You will also need to replace the accumulator assembly (AKA Dryer) and the orifice tube.

Best guess is that when the compressor went out it deposited a lot of metal shavings in the system and they will eventually get caught in the O-Tube and clog it.

The entire system should be flushed to get rid of any metal fragments lurking around.

All O-Ring seals will need to be replaced and the entire system once reassembled drawn down to a good solid vacuum for at least 2 hours to get rid of any moisture and recharged with the recommend amount of oil and freon .

Sorry, no way to save the freon. It's more than likely bad anyway.

Freon and water vapor make an acid that eats the system from the inside out.

It's a very intense job to do unless you have the proper tooling.

You were dead on, the compressor failed thus they will replace the compressor, clutch and the dryer. They said its an expension valve and they will be able to clean it.

All this will run cost about 900$-1000$.


Just as insurance I would just go ahead and replace the expansion valve.

Your this far along already.

Your Welcome,

That's why we are here.


Here is the finale update,

The shaft of the compressor had broken (unsure if the compressor seized or not), so the rubber isolator on the pulley was running on the side hence why the smoke and the melted rubber.

They said the system was cleaned and they only changed the compressor assembly.

Thanks all.

Figured I'd search as this just happened to me. Peter should be proud of me! I didn't start a new thread!

My '15 Sport is in the shop due to a failed compressor. It made a terrible noise as I was stopping to pick up the kids. Smoke began coming out of the hood. Smelt like a burnt clutch. Luckily I'm still under warranty.

2012 Ford Explorer. where exactly are the oriface tubes? Plural?