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Old 07-30-2012, 02:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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AC compressor and condenser replacement with pics

AC Compressor and AC condenser Replacement, 2003 Acura MDX.

NOTE: You do not need to remove the alternator or the condenser fan shroud for this job!!! The shop manual is full of .... That's probably how they make more money in labour after all.


Parts needed:

New AC compressor - $275
New AC condenser - $115
5 new O-rings (dealer item) - $20-30 (Canadian prices suck)

No special tools, some ratchets and sockets, some extensions. One wrench to hold the tensioner pulley in place.




0. Disconnect the battery.

1. Have your AC evacuated professionally before proceeding. You don't want to have a high presure in the AC system when you start disconnecting the lines as the impact of escaping freon could potentially harm you! I hooked up a gauge to the low pressure port to verify.

1. (Step optional) I have removed the bumper cover for this procedure, gave me a lot easier access to the condenser (don't ask me why mine looks like crap). If you are doing the compressor only, totally keep the cover on. My cover was easy enough to remove as it was missing a lot of plastic clips anyway, otherwise, you just lift up the middle part of the plastic clip with a screwdriver high enough to where the whole clip will come out. Reuse them. They should not break if you are gentle. Before the bumper cover is dropped to the ground, make sure to disconnect the fog lights. I hate those connectors which are sometimes stuck on - so I ended up twisting the two bulbs rather than disconnecting the power.




2. For condenser removal, unscrew the bolts holding the two condenser brackets to the radiator support (they will be near your hood latch mechanism).

3. Remove the two 10mm bolts on the AC lines going into the condenser from the front and pull out the connectors out of the condenser. WATCH FOR THE REMAINING PRESSURE IN THE SYSTEM SO IT DOES NOT EXPLODE ON YOU (step #1)! The manuals will say that you should cap these lines temporarily to not allow moisture to get into the system.






4. Pull out your condenser by moving it upward.

5. Disconnect the power to the compressor by unplugging the connector that sits at the bottom of the condenser fan shroud (the wire goes to the compressor).




6. Use 10mm socket and a small ratchet to undo the bolt from one of the lines on the AC compressor (this pic is fake, it shows the next step already completed), but I did remove that bolt first as I thought it was easier that way.



7. Use a long extension and 10mm socket (which might need to be a bit deeper) to disconnect another ac line from the compressor.




8. Get a breaker bar to relive the tension from the belts by rotating the tensioner pulley. (I made a mistake of getting a regular ratchet and then artificially extending it). Breaker is imporant (or some extension bar on your ratchet) as the pulley will require A LOT of push to give in (have another person do that). Push the breaker bar away from you - towards the windshield, while you will gently remove the belt from the compressor down below the car. Push the pulley ONLY FAR ENOUGH to get the belt removed - you don't want to push the pulley too far and allow the belt too much slack and consequently remove it and then spend hours figuring out how to put it back!!! (it's really tight in there so don't make that mistake). After you have removed the belt from the compressor, have the person up the top allow the tensioner pulley to go back a bit, and use a wrench to stop it from travelling too far to the front (it will want to). I got it pressed against the metal radiator support which was strong enough to fight of the force of the pulley. That setup will allow you to continue working while the serpentine belt stays on and the breaker bar is not harming any wires next to your pulleys.





9. Remove the two bolts holding the cross bar on the bottom of the radiator support and loosen the opposite bolt just enough to move the bar away (you may need to loosen that bolt quite a bit, or force down the cross bar a bit).




10. Remove the 4 bolts holding the compressor in place. One of mine broke. I was still able to remove the compressor with ease, but then I had to drill the remaining sucker out of the bracket on the engine block in order to make room for the new compressor. You MAY be able to remove the whole bracket if this happens to you too, but I don't guarantee it - it may be used by the alternator too, so don't take my word for it.




11. Your compressor will come out the bottom. In my case, the pulley end went last.

TAKE A BREAK and HAVE A BEEER. 50% of the job's done.

12. Compare your old and new compressors, take all the parts you need. I needed a small bracket to hold the wire in place, one small portion of the wire with a connector and the metal port housing (I have no idea what it's called) which is held to the old compressor by 2 tiny (5 or 6mm) bolts. Do not touch the torx (50, I believe) bolts, they stay on the housing without the need to ever touch them!



My compressor came with oil - I kept the oil in.

13. Reinstall things in the opposite order:

attach the new compressor with 4 long bolts
push the breaker bar towards the windhshield again to loosen the serpentine belt
reattach the belt on the compressor gently from the bottom
slowly retract the breaker bar towards the front of the car
verify that the belt did not slip from any other pulleys and sits firmly with a decent pressure
use new O-rings on all ac line connections (I think I needed 5 in total and got them from the dealer) and lube them in compressor oil, I used a tiny scredriver to remove the old ones
reconnect two ac lines with 10 bolt & nut on the compressor
put the new condenser in, reattach it to the top of the radiator support with provided brackets (or reused from the old one)
reconnect two ac lines using 10mm bolts.
put your bumper cover back on the car, reattach it with plastic clips and insert your for light bulbs back








I left my compressor intentionally unplugged for the trip to the AC recharge place, but I was told that was not needed as the compressor would not come on anyway (due to no pressure in the ac system). I still felt better about having it unplugged. If you do so, do NOT forget to tell the AC people that it's unplugged!
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Congrats man! Looks like you fixed it perfectly. Good job.
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yup. So far so good. The AC blows cold air.

Thanks again for your countless advice. I am glad to pay back with this write up as there was no full procedure described with great detail here yet.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Good work! Subscribing.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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This needs to be a sticky


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