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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2013 Limited, 2nd owner, had for 2 years
Back story: bought it two summers ago, tested AC at dealership and it worked, but not super cold. I put a little charge in it and it has worked great since until yesterday. We live in Maine and have not needed the AC this year until yesterday. I was at a recertification course for shipboard fire fighting. Why does this matter, you ask? My wife insisted on coming so she could watch, and as it got hot outside, she got in the car and turned on the AC. It worked for a while then she noticed "smoke" coming out the vents. She assumed it from the training I was doing. She shut off the air and went back outside. Fast forward a couple hours, training is done and I get in the car to drive home. I cranked the AC and got blasted with hot air, still unaware of the earlier "smoke" issue. I assumed it was the first time we'd used the AC this year and it just needed another charge. Stopped at orielly and got a recharge kit. The cheepo gage showed low, but not empty however the entire bottle didn't increase it at all. The AC clutch was engaged the whole time. Got home last night and started troubleshooting today. Another smaller can made no difference either and I consulted the almighty Google with not luck. Stewing over lunch, my bride informs me of the "smoke" the day before and said the AC quit before she shut it off. I popped the charge valve with a screw driver, got a shot of refrigerant out accompanied by some leak dye which must have been put in by the dealor shortly before I came along and bought the car (great price by the way... Now I know why)

Ive scoured the engine bay and lines along the undercarriage looking for more neon green and found none.

That's where I'm at: both lines in and out of compressor are hot, can't get the pressure to come up, though it isn't completely empty, compressor clutch remains engaged whenever ac is "on" which tells me it's trying as well as not empty or overcharged. I have not opened up the dash in search of the evap and the condenser fins have a few bugs in them but not restricted. Cabin filter is newer, but I took it completed out for troubleshooting.

Maybe unrelated but worth mentioning: spare tire well was covered in condensation. Here is my guess and hoping someone will verify or politely call me an idiot and correct me: rear ac line was leaking all along and it finally got worse and in a hurry. If so, can I block off the rear AC somehow? If I'm way out in left field, where should I look next? I've ordered a set of gauges and they are a couple days out so I'm limited until then to feeling pipe temps and looking for dye. Can anyone shed some light and hopefully tell me I'm not stuck with open windows all summer, or taking out a second mortgage for a deal or repair?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update: problem solved!

Anyone scouring the internet who has similar symptoms and stumbles across this feed:

Bad compressor. Easy way to tell is with the engine off, try to spin the inside of the clutch. Not the pulley, but the middle section Inside the pulley. It will spin by hand but with some restriction. If no restriction, basically can spin it with a finger, than your compressor is worn out. Another way to tell without a set of gages is with the engine idling, turn on Max AC. The engine speed should drop and take up the load of a normal, working compressor. If the AC clutch engages and there is no noticible load added to the idling engine (like mine was) than there's your culprit.

If you or a buddy have a set of gages (high and low side, not the crap gage that comes with a recharge kit) put your gages on and see if the static pressure is roughly equal across both sides. Turn on MaxAC. No change? Bad compressor.

I'm not a professional auto mechanic but I changed the compressor out myself. There's three bolts holding it onto the engine and the two ac lines, all 13mm. I used a ratchet wrench, deep socket, ratchet, and various extentions. There is some clearance challenges getting at upper, outside bolt. She's boxed in like a turtle's pecker and you can't get much swing. 3/8 ratchet or breaker bar to release the belt tension. I was able to recover, pull vac, leak check and charge too but even if you don't want to get into that you will still save a pile of money doing the swap yourself and having a shop pull down the system and charge it. Compressor is about $225 on RockAuto and Amazon, 3 x 12oz cans of r-134a from any auto parts store or Walmart.

Hope this helps someone. Credit to YouTube and a lot of googling.
 
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