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Replacing my own air conditioning compressor, and now the rest of the system...help?

Discussion in 'Technical Chat' started by billygoat, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. Apr 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM
    #1
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone here tackled the project of replacing a seized a/c compressor and corresponding components? I found a deal on an '05 Access Cab TRD Offroad 4x4 with a seized compressor and pulled the trigger, planning to install a new one myself, only to find that the old one had completely grenaded when I pulled it out...there was more than a teaspoon of metal bits in the suction hose. When I found this out I ordered a new condenser/dryer/accumulator, some aerosol flush cans, and a new expansion valve and evaporator. I have all the parts installed and the lines cleaned, except for the expansion valve and evaporator...and oh boy, I am not looking forward to tearing the dash apart. One thing that I find odd, but googled and found out is not uncommon, is when the compressor grenaded the metal bits all shot up the suction hose. I did not see any pieces of metal come out the pressure hose when I cleaned it out. Does anyone here know if the metal bits could have blown up the suction hose and into or past the expansion valve? Basically, I don't want to tear apart the dash to install the expansion valve and evaporator if I don't need to--it doesn't really fall into the "might as well since it's apart" category of repairs. If anyone has experience or knowledge about this type of repair I could really use some advice...most mechanics I talk to just want me to bring the truck in so they can fix it (which makes sense given how they make a living), only this is not in the cards for me right now after dropping the cash on the truck and new tires for it, and it won't be for a long long time ($1200 in labor just to do the expansion valve).
     
  2. Apr 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM
    #2
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I've done quite a bit of asking around, and not even on auto repair forums can I get a straight answer. Soooo, I started tearing apart the dash last night and am working on a how-to for anyone else who feels like saving themselves about $1200 at the expense of of a weekend. If anyone could tell me how to pop out the dash pad after removing all the other dash panels that would really help speed things along though.
     
  3. Apr 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM
    #3
    Rich91710

    Rich91710 Well-Known Member

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    Just remember... when you get the system assembled, leave the compressor unplugged and take it to a shop for a proper evacuation and charging.

    Without a proper manifold and vacuum pump, you can not properly charge the system in your driveway. There is more to charging an AC system than simply running it up "into the green" on the low pressure side on those $40 DIY cans.
     
  4. Apr 28, 2012 at 7:01 PM
    #4
    grizquad

    grizquad Well-Known Member

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    I work on Thermo King units, and usually when a compressor grenades, there has been metal and crap going through the system before it seizes, so there is usually a screen in the expansion valve line that should catch the crap before it goes through the evap. but I would try blowing out your lines before putting your parts back in, and definately get a good evacuation. If you have access to nitrogen, use that to leak test the system before evac and charging.
     
  5. Apr 29, 2012 at 1:37 PM
    #5
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I figured out how to pull out the expansion valve through the firewall, and even though there is a screen on the inlet of the expansion valve, the metal bits still managed to get inside the valve and evaporator core from everything flowing backwards through the system...yippie! I figured out how to get the dash pad off, almost had the evap core out, and then realized Amazon sent me the wrong one...I put the dash back together before I could forget how, and will be installing everything next weekend and taking pictures of every last bolt, clip, and plug in case I forget where something goes.

    Rich, do you mean leave the lines off the compressor or leave the clutch unplugged before having it evacuated and charged?

    Installing an a/c compressor in my Jeep for compressed air was so much easier...
     
  6. Apr 29, 2012 at 1:47 PM
    #6
    Rich91710

    Rich91710 Well-Known Member

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    You should complete the entire system to help keep it dry, just leave the electrical connector off of the new compressor so it won't kick on without the proper oil and R134a levels.

    If you have metal beyond the expansion valve, the evaporator CAN be flushed, but the accumulator/dryer must be replaced, and modern parallel condensors can't be effectively flushed the way you could in 1975.

    I've been told that brake parts cleaner will work for flushing the evaporator and hoses... but take it for what it's worth, I've never done it or seen it done. Personally, the evaporator is the ONLY thing I'd even consider flushing since it is normally the only part that is difficult to access (I don't know where the accumulator/dryer is in the Taco).
     
  7. Apr 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM
    #7
    lj973gm

    lj973gm Sold it, dont miss it yet.

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    One of the typical reasons the system goes bad is due to moisture, not likely in your case since it grenaded.

    The reason he states to not hook up the line is that moisture in your existing or new lines will migrate into the compressor. Valves take crap due to this moisture. Most new evap coils and lines have plugs in them as well as a negative charge/vacuum on them to verify no leaks and so the end used knows moisture did not get in.

    You can hook it all up the day you plan to get it evacuated and drive it to the shop so they do not charge you for installing the lines. Having them hook up for a bit and then evacuating them is ok.

    As he states if you just hook it all up and shoot it up with freon it will work but not for a long time. There is a dryer on systems but it is not up to par for catching a system full of humidity. There is also oil and freon in the system not just freon.

    Might want to replace any o-ring seals as well since your vehicle is older it is cheap insurance for the future.
     
  8. May 7, 2012 at 5:23 PM
    #8
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    So I have the entire new system installed, except for the filter that goes by the expansion valve--forgot to put that part back in. I'm picking up a new one at the dealership tomorrow and will be installing it through the firewall (~1hr), and then I'll hook up the condenser lines and get the system evacuated and recharged. I ended up tearing apart the dash and replacing the evaporator core--it is a plate and fin type in our trucks, much like the condenser, making a flush difficult and risky. Also there were about four handfuls of pine needles in there--I guess cabin air filters do more than I realized.

    If anyone has any questions about fixing their own system, feel free to ask--I learned more about our a/c systems in the past three weeks than I wanted to. I'll let you all know what happens after I get the system recharged.

    edit: Also I am working on a how-to with pictures, but it will be a while before I finish it as I have been, and will be, really busy for a while
     
  9. May 7, 2012 at 5:32 PM
    #9
    TenBeers

    TenBeers Well-Known Member

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    Dang, dude, that's the bravest DIY I have heard of. I would do a motor swap before trying an AC job, but you have given me some confidence (pending results, of course).

    I have never had a compressor go out, but I have used the "seal it and sell it" method before -- although I did tell the prospective buyer what I had done. Not disclosing would haunt me.
     
  10. May 7, 2012 at 7:05 PM
    #10
    Rich91710

    Rich91710 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed.

    When I sold my piece-of-shit '95 Suburban, I gave the buyer about $400 worth of parts (including a timing light) and a printed list of the issues that I had spent the last $3000 on, and all current issues that I was aware of.




    That was a looooong list :(
     
  11. May 11, 2012 at 5:02 PM
    #11
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The filter finally came in yesterday, I installed it last night, hooked up the condenser/dryer/accumulator lines this morning, and had the a/c evacuated and recharged this afternoon. On the drive home I started laughing--I used to take a/c for granted, but not anymore. And it's COLD. Replacing the entire system is not for the faint of heart, but it's something I would do again.
     
  12. May 11, 2012 at 5:04 PM
    #12
    jeckel7234

    jeckel7234 Well-Known Member

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    nice man congrats, i got in my parts yesterday and am going to attempt it tomorrow
     
  13. May 11, 2012 at 10:06 PM
    #13
    G17GUY

    G17GUY Well-Known Member

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    How do you clean the lines out? I have a locked compressor on an 07 single cab tacoma and have been thinking about doing this.

    Can you post up what parts you used and where you purchase them?

    Thanks!
     
  14. May 12, 2012 at 11:34 AM
    #14
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I used a couple aerosol cans of a/c system flush from O'Reilly's to clean out the lines--pull off each line and flush them individually for about 10-15 seconds, then stick your air compressor's blow gun in the line and run that for about 10 minutes (make sure you have a dryer/separator inline on your compressor so you don't blast water into the line), then let the lines sit for a little while to make sure all the cleaner has evaporated.

    I bought my compressor from a junkyard I found using car-part.com. I only did this because I found a compressor with 100 miles on it--if you can't find one with low mileage, just buy a new Delphi compressor from rockauto.com for about $350 (several mechanics told me to stay away from rebuilt compressors). I also bought the condenser/accumulator/dryer assembly (all in one unit) from rockauto for pretty cheap. I bought the expansion valve from Napa Auto parts for about $30, and the evaporator core for $180 and the filter for $7 both from the dealership. I think I ordered the o-ring/seal kit from advanced auto parts, but I'm not sure--I did a google search for the seal kit.
     
  15. Jun 6, 2012 at 9:10 PM
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    998cc

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    Great going, Gary. Just finished my A/C job; however, it pales in comparison to yours. My 1996 Tacoma's compressor and evaporator core were both leaking, so a new Denso compressor (Partsgeek) and junkyard (Pick-n-pull) evaporator unit (complete air box out of a 98 Taco) was installed. Fortunately, on the older Tacomas, it only takes about 20 minutes to remove the airbox containing the evap coil. Access is behind the glove box.
     
  16. Sep 5, 2012 at 3:39 PM
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    tweeek

    tweeek Well-Known Member

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    Reviving an old thread....

    When you replaced your compressor & condenser/dryer what did you do for oil? Did you add oil to the condenser & compressor and evap? Where did you buy it from? I cant seem to find rl187 oil anywhere

    I am about to tackle the same project, hopefully minus the evaporator. If the entire system is flushed & new, (Minus the evaporator in my case) how much oil needs to be added and where to get it.
     
  17. Sep 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM
    #17
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I couldn't find rl187 anywhere either. I lightly coated all the o-rings/seals and the inside of the compressor with generic a/c oil that was, according to the bottle, compatible with rl187, and then had the system charged with an oil/refrigerant mix. I think most oils are compatible, but my local Napa did carry a synthetic that was not. A good shop will be able to estimate how much to deduct from the oil charge, but it won't be exact. As a word of caution, be prepared to replace the evap core if you find any contaminants near the expansion valve--I found a small amount inline there, more inside the expansion valve, and the largest amount of metal bits was inside the evaporator core. I am working on an informational website where I will document how to do this, but it won't be functional for a little while still (could be a month). In the mean time, good luck and feel free to ask any questions.
     
  18. Sep 11, 2012 at 9:41 AM
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    DieselTaco

    DieselTaco DTAC

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    Thanks billy,
    I am considering replacing the evaporator core and the condenser/accumulator/dryer assembly also. I have a different situation but I expect if I don't do something soon, I will be replacing my compressor.
    I have taken my truck to the dealership and another guy but every time I leave the shop, I get the same results.
    Symptoms:
    I start the truck, hit the a/c button, and I got cold air coming out. if I hit the recirc button, in about 10-15minutes, the air begins to blow less and smells musty. It isn't cold but if I turn off the recirc button, it gets cold again within 5 minutes or less. It is only an issue during extreme heat when you really need the recirc to be working. But it isn't as if there isn't cold air so I think I have to replace the 'stuff' under the dash.
    I have had the truck sitting under a tree, I scoop pine needles and other junk out from the hood where it meets the windshield constantly. I am pretty well convinced this is where my problems started.
    But when I take it to the shop they always tell me the compressor is fine and the A/C is running cold.
     
  19. Sep 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM
    #19
    Rich91710

    Rich91710 Well-Known Member

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    Your 2005 doesn't have a cabin filter.
    You likely have a bunch of crap that's dropped into the intake and is blocking the ductwork.
    The recirc door right behind the glove box.

    If it's blowing cold when not on recirc, the AC system is good.
    The recirc system only operates the flapper that switches between the intake source.

    The musty smell could be due to the above mentioned crap partially blocking the evaporator, and being wet and moldy from condensation. The airbox drain may also be clogged.
     
  20. Sep 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM
    #20
    billygoat

    billygoat [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it sounds like the duct work is clogged. Like Rich said you can access the duct work right behind the glove box--I would stick a shop vac hose in there and suck up as much as you can. I found handful after handful of pine needles in the ducting of my '05 and eventually just sucked it all out with a shop vac. Quite a few pine needles made it all the way to evaporator core too...my drain was clogged and the air on recirculate smelled pretty foul--blowing compressed air up the drain hose in the engine bay solved that problem. You can fit a cabin air filter for the 06+ Tacomas in there so the system doesn't get clogged again.
     
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