Need help! A/C not working and I am dying of the heat!

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by meloyellowjr, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. meloyellowjr

    meloyellowjr Guest


    I have a 94 SL2 Saturn and the A/C is not working. I press the A/C
    button and turn the knob on the fan, and all I get is warm air. The A/
    C light comes on, but I don't feel any load on the engine. I have
    looked under the hood and I the A/C clutch does not engage. The last
    thing I want to do is take it to a mechanic. I know some about cars
    and feel comfortorble doing the work myself. But I have never had
    this problem before. How do you recomend diagnosing the problem? The
    fuses and the relay seem to be fine. Nothing obvious from just
    quickly looking at A/C compressor or A/C lines. Any help greatly
    appreciated...the heat is climbing here!

    meloyellowjr, Apr 29, 2007
  2. meloyellowjr

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Generally speaking if your AC clutch will not engage and the fuses and
    wiring is all OK, then it is a sign that your AC refrigerant is low. There
    is a pressure switch that completes the circuit and does not allow the
    compressor to engage when the refrigerant is low. This is to protect the
    compressor from self-destruction since the refrigerant/oil mix is what
    lubricates the compressor.

    My guess is that you have a leak. The only way to determine the source will
    be to recharge the system with a leak detecting refrigerant and then use
    either an electronic sniffer or a black light to find the leak. The source
    of the leak will then need to be properly repaired mechanically, the
    receiver/dryer will also need to be replaced. The system will then need to
    be evacuated and tested to assure it holds the vacuum for 24 hours, before
    it gets refilled with new refrigerant.

    This is typically a fairly expensive process which requires the proper
    knowledge, tools and test equipment. I would not recommend that you try
    this yourself! Unfortunately, the cost of this repair depending on the
    component that needs replacement could easily exceed the value of your

    Good luck and post your findings.

    Bob Shuman, Apr 29, 2007
  3. meloyellowjr

    BläBlä Guest

    Agreed. A lot of things a DIY'er can do but the A/C system is not one of
    those things. It's probably has a small leak, if your lucky its a simple
    seal and not a unit. A 94 should have 134a which is a plus. A shop can
    put some refrigerant in (hopefully they check for contaminants) and
    check for leaks and then upon finding the leak(s), "recover" the
    refrigerant open the system up, replace the leaking unit or seals,
    replace the receiver dryer, add pag (double end capped hopefully),
    vacuum and recharge the system. If its an easy leak to fix like a seal
    it should run you about $150 bucks tops. Or you could get MVAC 609
    certified and spend about 5 grand on 134a equipement to do it
    BläBlä, Apr 29, 2007
  4. meloyellowjr

    Guest Guest

    I know I'm going to get shot for this and called a bunch of names by some on
    here, including text in big caps urging you not to do this by some, but you
    can take it or leave it...

    I had the same car (well, a '94 SL2) up to about a 1-1/2 years ago with the
    same problem...After the winter, got no AC. There was a charge in the
    system, but when it gets too low, it won't let the compressor kick in.
    What I did for the 4 years after discovering the no AC issue was I went down
    to AID Auto stores and picked up 2 cans of 134a refrigerant for a couple
    bucks each. If you don't have one, for about $20 you can buy the "charger"
    which is essentially a hose with a coupler to the can on one end, a coupler
    to the car on the other with a gauge in the middle and throw the charge in
    yourself for a total of around $25-30 bucks the first time, and under ten
    each year after. I originally did mine to determine if it was a low charge
    or if it was something major. Hooked the charge up, turned on the car,
    turned the AC on max and opened the nozzle. The compressor kicked in and I
    charged until the gauge was in the green and, vola! - I had nice very cold
    AC, then disconnected. Now, I obviously had a small leak that my charge
    would last all summer - yours might be different and be gone in a month, day
    or week in which case, buying cans of 134a will quickly add up to the
    "getting it done right" method, but it'll at least tell you what your
    working with.....

    ....and before anyone jumps on my case here about doing this, it's a 13 year
    old car.... and as was mentioned to take it someplace to get "properly"
    fixed will be costly. It's not a big deal and doesn't take a rocket
    scientist to charge a system. However if it was a newer car, it would be
    well worth the money to take it in and do it right per what was written to
    you below. But your car's worth to anyone but you probably is going to
    equal the cost of the fix..........Your choice...Good luck and post what you
    ended up doing....

    Guest, Apr 30, 2007
  5. meloyellowjr

    Bob Shuman Guest

    It all depends on the size of the leak! As someone else pointed out, it
    could be as simple as needing a new O-ring and/or tightening a fitting.
    Most times it is not that simple though and a couple cans of refrigerant
    will make it work for a few days (or less).

    Doing it the way you suggest is not good for the environment and may not be
    for your pocket book either. If you do elect to go that route, use a can of
    the refrigerant with the leak locating dye!

    Again, post what you find to benefit others and best of luck.

    Bob Shuman, May 1, 2007
  6. meloyellowjr

    Guest Guest

    That's why I said that I obviously had a small leak in which (2) 12oz cans
    lasted me from June through whenever (as of September it would still work
    and must have gotten low between then and the following June) This method
    was cost effective for me as I already had the charger, and it cost me $5-10
    each June to have AC for the summer.

    I agree with using the locating dye refrigerant though....especially if he
    does it this way and the AC only lasts a short time, it'll tell him where
    the leak is. My point is that if he did it this way he would know for
    relatively little money what and where his problem is. If the compressor
    doesn't kick in, then he knows he's probably got other more costly issues,
    but he can make the call then if he wants to drop a few hundred or more
    bucks, sweat it out for the summers or get another vehicle - but he'll be
    able to make that call for about $25 and 10 minutes of his time....As far as
    the environmental thing, he's not dumping 4 quarts of oil in the dirt behind
    his garage and I can pretty much guarantee you that he's not going to be
    putting in refrigerant every day, week or month as that would be
    ridiculously stupid as it will quickly add up to just having it fixed. But
    on a 13 year old car, if he puts a couple of cans in now and they last him
    the whole season, he'd probably be happy.

    (sorry for top posting)
    Guest, May 1, 2007
  7. meloyellowjr

    meloyellowjr Guest

    Thanks for all your advice! My buddy has a 134A charger hose and I
    will buy a couple of cans (the ones with the dye ink sound good) and
    go from there. If it takes just a couple of cans per summer I will be
    happy. As for the environment issue...well I don't think the car will
    last more than a couple of years anyways. It is just a college car.
    I'll let you know how it all goes.

    meloyellowjr, May 5, 2007
  8. meloyellowjr

    Bob Shuman Guest

    If you have access to an A/C vacuum pump, then you could alternatively
    evacuate the system and see if it holds the vacuum for just 1 hour or
    longer. If it holds the vacuum reading for 24 hours, then you may be able
    to get by with a simple charge.

    In any event, good luck and do let us know how it goes.

    Bob Shuman, May 5, 2007
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