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Old 07-22-2010, 04:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Compressor replacement

I'm considering conquering the a/c compressor.

I got one opinion so far (Ice Cold Air of Tampa), who says the compressor is shot and it will be about $900 to replace. This sounds accurate based on previous issues I read about here.

I'll get a couple other prices, but I'm putting some serious thought into this one.

Napa says the compressor ranges from $300 to 450 depending on the model, referb, etc. Rent the free vacuum from autozone to vacuum and recharge the system when done. The manual says, to summarize, vacuum, remove alternator, remove compressor, reinstall compressor, reinstall alternator, recharge.

I'll save $400 +-, depending on the cost of refridgerant and other small parts I'll need. Any thoughts fellow DIY-ers?
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Snake07 is going to try this himself too on his 04. Not too many have tackled this repair. With a service manual you should be ok.
http://www.mdxers.org/forums/73-2001...echarge-c.html
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Old 07-22-2010, 09:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Why is your compressor in need of replacement? Has it siezed, poor cooling, leaking, etc? The Acura compressors are tough, quality parts and don't fail often. Even if shaft seal is leaking, seal can be replaced.

I definitely recommend DIY, but don't be surprised if this is hardest job you've ever done. I looked at MDX compressor and it won't be a "walk in the park" job.

You can pay for shop manual, ac manifold set, and vacuum pump which will last a lifetime and do the job right, and still retain some change in your pocket.

First job though is to figure out what is wrong. Many replace perfectly good compressors because of other problems.

I love AC problems because they present such a huge difference between cost of shop repair and DIY. I learned (mainly self taught by reading) diy AC repair 30 yrs ago and it's paid off over the years hugely.

good luck
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Old 07-23-2010, 01:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks Midnight... I went and posted over at Snake's thread. I read the beginning a while back but didn't see the recent activity.

Texas... I have had a good vibration when the compressor kicks in for months... to the point where the force snapped one of my alternator bolts and it had to be tapped and drilled out! But the ac still worked... Until yesterday. Joining traffic on the interstate, I heard an unusual noise, and the air went warm. Only have the one opinion so far, which says the compressor is broken. He described the inside of the compressor seizing, and the clutch part breaking from the inside piece, allowing the clutch to still spin but not engage. Perhaps a pile of hooey... I should look at the diagram of the inside of the compressor. Will be getting another opinion tomorrow.

I orignally suspected the clutch, a barely educated guess. It was cooling well, fan of course working fine. But vibration when compressor kicks on. I was guessing the clutch was getting stiff or something... again... barely educated guess, causing stress on the belt, causing the slight squeaking. I study my manual like I have an exam coming, but still, experience is best.

I'm happy to hear your 2 cents. Or more.

By the way... 135K miles on my '02. And I have a manual, and my dad has some ac equipment, but I was going to just rent the machine from autozone.
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Check the compressor by rotating the inner clutch plate by hand. If it turns easily w/ just a slight resistance as you compress gas, it may be sound. If it's hard to turn or won't turn at all, the compressor has siezed.

Siezure is bad as not only a new compressor is needed, but system needs to be cleaned of compressor debris to avoid the same problem again. This can be a problem since flushing the evaporator is not feasible and condensor is also problematic. Best practice would be to pull and replace the evaporator, but that may be another big job. Condensor is also difficult to flush and may be best to replace. Hope its not a siezed compressor.

If not siezed you may only need to replace the clutch assembly to restore operation. Looking at position, I think you'll need to pull the compressor to replace the clutch. This requires system discharge.

If you need a compressor, check car-part.com for a used compressor. You should be able to find a good unit for <$50-$100.

I and others would like to know what you find.

good luck
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Old 07-23-2010, 01:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Can I do what you describe- rotating the inner clutch, while the compressor is still on the car? Or does it need to be removed?

Also- your explanation clarifies why the Ice Cold Air guy said the condensor may need to be replaced... I thought he was full of it.

A good used compressor for under $100? Geesh. I'd be pretty darn happy about that. I guess if its just the clutch that would be even cheaper- making me even happier. I will gladly spend a Sunday with my back in the dirt to save that kind of cash-o-la.

Snake said he went new to be safe... I've always thought refurbs are good, but didn't disagree with his better be safe then sorry point of view.
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Old 07-24-2010, 07:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yes, that's the whole point of the test. Reach the compressor face and try to turn it manually.

Well, about the debate between new, rebuilt, and used. New is good if your pocketbook can stand the pain. I've found that rebuilt can be nothing more than cleaning and slapping a coat of paint on. Used, there is a chance of faulty compressor. However, at the low price you can afford to make a mistake and still save money. I've never had a bad used compressor, but have had several bad rebuilt compressors. Never again.

If you determine the clutch is faulty, it can be replaced, but used clutches are generally not available. You have to buy the compressor to get the clutch, so you might as well replace the compressor and clutch.

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Old 07-29-2010, 12:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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So I can't get my arm in there. Can't get to the compressor from underneath and from above I can't jam my arm and hand low enough... I'm not a big person... I swear. I can just touch the edge of the clutch.

Obviously, as you say, the whole point is to do it without having to remove it.

BTW I don't think I mentioned that there are black particles that look like shavings around the edge of the clutch. Not sure if that's the belt or from the clutch itself. No squealing or anything when I'm driving now and the air is off.

Any other ideas? Maybe I should just get the used compressor and do the replacement. Snake did a great job with his steps, so between that and the service manual I feel confident tackling this.

Happy to hear any other thoughts.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Black particles could be rubber from clutch assembly. This might be caused by bad bearing, but could also be caused by heavy compressor drive load.

You might try moving the frame brace that Snake moved to access the compressor. This may allow access to the clutch face. You should be able to tell whether this is case or not.

I think you have a good plan to find a good used compressor and simply replace it. I hope it's not a siezing compressor.

If it's siezed and you find aluminum compressor debris (check receiver/drier), I would replace the evaporator and condensor also. Your expansion valve will be blocked by debris and evap won't function.

good luck
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Old 08-15-2010, 11:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hey all- so I replaced my compressor this weekend. After spending an entire day chasing used compressors - just to show up and find they were no good, I gave up and went by Napa and bought a rebuilt. 90 degree and rainy weather with no ac made me happy to give up and buy a rebuilt.

So I had to buy the kit if I wanted the two year warranty.

Anyway, local AC place had a recover/vacuum/recharge for $69. So I had them do the recovery, as soon as he was done laughing at me for attempting to do this myself. Ahh... delightful man he was.

So I pulled the MDX in the garage and onto the ramps. Got the belt off fairly easily. My breaker bar was too bulky... so I used a wrench with a metal pipe on the end. Worked great. Took off the lower most bumper/fender thing.

From underneath, like snake did, I tried to remove the 3 bolt sub-frame bracket. BUT of course my luck... The two bolts toward the inside have spot welded nuts inside of the subframe and of course the middle one broke free. So I ended up putting a jack stand under the frame and having to remove the outside bolt and inside bolt- leaving the middle loose and spin it out of the way. Still worked luckily.

Got underneath, removed the hoses (covered them with rubber gloved and electric tape) and wire, then the four bolts. Weazled the beast out of there. Spinning the inside of the clutch you could see the movement inside working, but the clutch spins free. The rubber thing on the clutch is all beat up. My rebuilt didn't have a metal piece that is on the compressor (not sure what its called, but one of the hoses conencted to it), so I took it off the old and put it on the new. Cleaned it off and changed the O rings, used some oil on them.

Put the thing back up in there, tightened the 4 bolts, hooked up the hoses and wire again. Ta da.

Put the bracket back in place and bolted it back in place. Used the torque. Seems like it was worth the torque wrench since it is the subframe and all.

Put the bumper piece back on. I forgot to buy extra clips and of course some broke, others I stepped on.

Then I changed the filter drier. Easy enough to do. Basically remove the hood latch, radiator and condensor bolts, couple bumper clips, disconnect two hoses and slide it up. The only wierd thing was you need a large hex wrench... if thats what they're called, to remove the filter drier cap. I had one that was close enough, probably not metric. But I undid the bottom of the filter drier piece, used long narrow needle nose pliers to get the old out, then just slide the new in with new O rings.

There were metal shavings in the filter drier which concerned me. I was glad to see the compressor was moving, thinking that was good news, but then saw the metal shavings. Not sure what to think. Thoughts?

But anyway, I put the condensor back in, hooked it all back up. Note- the hood latch I just screwed in, then found the hood wouldn't latch. Had to loosen it, raise it a bit then tighten it back down. That did the trick.

I'll go to the AC place in the morning and have them vacuum and recharge it.

I have the expansion valve but really didn't want to have to do it. I guess you have to remove the evaporator and I am really hoping to avoid doing that. I'm hoping the filter drier will catch any debris.

I'll update on how it goes Monday. I didn't bother taking pictures since Snake did such a nice job. But happy to answer questions if I left anything out.

Thanks to Snake for the great pics- and I used my service manual which I love dearly.

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Old 08-16-2010, 06:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by kelaykay View Post
I'm considering conquering the a/c compressor.

I got one opinion so far (Ice Cold Air of Tampa), who says the compressor is shot and it will be about $900 to replace. This sounds accurate based on previous issues I read about here.

I'll get a couple other prices, but I'm putting some serious thought into this one.

Napa says the compressor ranges from $300 to 450 depending on the model, referb, etc. Rent the free vacuum from autozone to vacuum and recharge the system when done. The manual says, to summarize, vacuum, remove alternator, remove compressor, reinstall compressor, reinstall alternator, recharge.

I'll save $400 +-, depending on the cost of refridgerant and other small parts I'll need. Any thoughts fellow DIY-ers?
You also vacuum AFTER you reinstall and BEFORE charge.

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Old 08-16-2010, 06:56 AM   #12 (permalink)
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A vital step is adding lubricant to the system. If you haven't added any, then the AC shop should install 4-5 oz of PAG.

Metail shavings are not a good sign, but maybe you caught it early. Removing evaporator is big job, and I would probably try to avoid also.

good luck
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:40 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You also vacuum AFTER you reinstall and BEFORE charge.

G
Absolutely. Really just need to recover freon is in the system before repairs are made. Then after, the system needs to be evacuated and held in a deep vacuum to remove any moisture that got into the system when it was exposes to the atmosphere. And in a humid climate like Florida, it's a guarantee that moisture got in there the instant the first seal was broken.

The appropriate amount of PAG oil should be added bases on the components replaced.

Metal bits in the system are a major red flag to me. It means the compressor was destroying itself. But it also means that those particles can get into and cling to other parts of the system and eventually recirculate to get back into the replacement compressor, destroying it again. The expansion valve is a total pain in the ass to replace since it involves removing the dash, but is usually required in that situation.

At the dealer, when we have a compressor failure like that, we usually require replacement of the drier and expansion valve or we just cannot warranty the work. Sometimes even the entire system (don't forget it has components for the rear A/C too!) if the debris we find is severe enough.

I know you don't have much, if any experience repairing A/C systems to really judge just how much of those metal bits you saw is enough to justify further part replacement. It sounds like the compressor wasn't too much money and has a standalone warranty. So maybe it's worth just rolling the dice and leaving it as is and not replacing that expansion valve. Just be prepared to do it all again in a few months or sooner if some metal is still in the system. I actually like to get my rubber tipped blow gun and blow compressed air though the lines of the components that aren't being replaced just as an extra measure.
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:50 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I didn't add any lubricant. The compressor of course had some oil in it already.

I did the recover beforehand. And I ran out of time today, but tomorrow morning I'll have them vacuum it real well and recharge. No doubt there is moisture in the system... Florida 100% humidity.

My theory- though likely flawed- was that if there was still debris in the line, it would clog the old expansion valve... then I could replace it. At least that way I'm not stuck buying 2 new ones. Can't say this lazy way is a way I'm proud of.

Supertech- do you guys flush the system in a situation like this? The compressor warranty meant I had to buy the flush also. I should have flushed the system... but you have to do it with the compressor off... and I didn't want to drive up to the shop with no compressor or belt on. I know... I'm bad.

BTW when the compressor died, I turned it off right away and never on again. I knew how bad it was to turn back on. Of course the AC people turned it on to test it when I got a quote. The metal shavings were no minor issue... there were quite a few. Wish it wasn't but a few specks... but it was a decent amount.

The air compressor idea is a great one. Would have done that if I thought to. Darn.

I'm no expert at this... but it wasn't a painful job at all. If I need to do more down the road, I'm fine with that. Frankly I am almost done with my house remodel, and once I'm moved it won't be such a pain to do more work on my MDX. I look forward to catching up on some things once I move.


Here's hoping the filter drier does a great job.

Thanks for the input. Keep it coming!
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:31 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Supertech- do you guys flush the system in a situation like this? The compressor warranty meant I had to buy the flush also. I should have flushed the system... but you have to do it with the compressor off... and I didn't want to drive up to the shop with no compressor or belt on. I know... I'm bad.
I've had no problems with just replacing the components based on my judgement and blowing compressed air through the rest. I don't like and won't use chemical flushes. Just adds moisture and unwanted crap to the system which means I'll have to evacuate it for a couple hours to be safe I got the system bone dry before recharging it.

If your expansion valve checks out or is close to it, they'll know it based on the high and low side pressures when they recharge it. Or you'll know by hearing what sounds like a gurgling/blowing bubbles sound behind the glovebox when the A/C is on.
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