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compressor damage source?

joytown on Fri September 21, 2007 7:12 PM User is offline

Year: 2001
Make: Honda
Model: Civic
Engine Size: 4cyl
Country of Origin: United States

Hello All,

My wife recently had an accident in southern California - ran over a large object on highway.

Radiator and condensor were trashed...

Body shop repaired vehicle
When my wife picked up vehicle she thought she heard some strange noises in the AC system after
a few days and returned the vehicle to the shop. They could not hear anything so they told her to take it to dealership.

Dealership says vehicle compressor has failed - metal shavings found and bearing problem - and will need to replace the condenser (again!)/ filter dryer / and the compressor w clutch.

We never had any problems with AC until the accident.

Body shop had replaced condenser / evacuated system changed oil and recharged.
I feel that the damage to the compressor while not due to accident could have been caused by
faulty repair - the filter / dryer was not replaced.
Could an improper repair of the system have caused the damage to the compresser?
Dealer says compresser failure is due to normal wear - could not have been caused by repair.
Dealer is also friend of bodyshop. Now I need $1400 repair of AC system that was working
flawlessly before accident.

Any opinions would be welcome. I need to respond to shop.

Chick on Fri September 21, 2007 7:45 PM User is offlineView users profile

Almost impposible to give you an answer to where the problem came from. Could be normal wear, could be something else. Compressors do die. And remember, it always works until it doesn't...
The time to say something to the shop is when you picked it up. That way they may have been able to get the insurance company to help with the bill, not likely though.. Did it get hit hard enough to hit the compressor? If so the shop should've seen the damage..Very hard call. Wish I could help you more, but......

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

joytown on Fri September 21, 2007 8:24 PM User is offline

No there is no physical damage to compressor. - Internal failure.

I have a friend in the Auto A/C field and he tells me - it should have been
tripple evacuated and for sure had a new filter dryer - after the system was open
to the atmosphere like that - contamination could cause the damage seen.
I wanted to see if anyone else held the same opinion.

My wife is temporarily living out west by herself (arthritis issue)
- and she did complain about the slight noise she heard within a week of picking it up.

Note: After 1 day she was back at shop because it wasn't shifting correctly - it was 2 quarts low on transmission fluid due to the accident. This has not filled me with confidence about the shop. I feel very frustrated needing 2 condensors in 2 weeks.........on top of all the other items now needed.

Thanks for your opinion!

Chick on Fri September 21, 2007 8:35 PM User is offlineView users profile

If you have to pay for it, then do yourself a favor and check out MACS shops in your area. Find a qualified AC shop that knows what they are doing. As far as changing the drier, yes, should be done, but even insurance companies will not pay for it unless there is phyiscal damage. we know when they should be changed, but when a customer is told they will have to pay for it, they 'usually" opt not to change it, so depending on how "strongly" we feel about the integrity of the drier, we will pay for it or leave it. Triple evac?? thats a wives tale.. A good solid vacuum is all you can do, as you can't remove the moisture once it's absorbed by the drier disicant. I would say they should have advised you about changing the drier if the insurance company wouldn't pay for it, or if there was no insurance involved, but that what makes some shops better than others...

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

Chick on Fri September 21, 2007 8:38 PM User is offlineView users profile

Just to add, depending on how bad the compressor failed, you may not need a new condenser, as some can be flushed..But you need a "real" Ac tech to check the system out, not a body shop...Just my opinion though...

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

JJM on Sat September 22, 2007 12:05 AM User is offline

Body shops should stick to what they do best: body work. Actually, few do body work even average, let alone best; trying to find a good body shop is likely trying to find a virgin in a Las Vegas strip club, but I digress. All too often, body shops delve into A/C work because they think having a recovery machine qualifies them to do A/C repairs, but more often than not, it ends up like the situation you're dealing with. And why cut into your margins by subbing the work out to someone who knows what they're doing.

My advice is anytime A/C work is necessary as a result of a collision, just let the body shop install the components, leave the compressor clutch connector disconnected, and let an A/C tech finish up the job - even if it means disassembling the system to flush, add oil, and so forth.

I realize it never rains in Southern California, but is there an off chance it did? If so, moisture and perhaps actual water could've gotten into the system. That would lead to premature failure in short order, particularly considering the dryer wasn't replaced (it should have been, either way). Was the area where the collision occurred dusty, or was there a sandstorm? With the system open from the damage, that would be a disaster.

How long was the system open for from the damage?

It's also possible the body shop used the wrong oil, or didn't use any at all. That'll finish a compressor off in a hurry.

Could the compressor have blown apart simply due to old age? Anything is possible, like me winning the California lottery here in New York, but it's not likely... not on an '01 Civic or Accord. CRV, on the other hand, absolutely.

No question in my mind the body shop screwed up - as many invariably do. But good luck trying to pin it on them. Hopefully, you can get the insurance to pay... they're supposed to repair the vehicle to its pre-damaged condition.

As for the ATF being low, that should give you an idea about the A/C work. I guess they just bolted the radiator in and never bothered to think about the fluid lost in the cooler. Speaking of radiator, I hope the transmission cooler didn't crack, because if it did and coolant contaminated the ATF, your transmission is headed for the same fate as the A/C system if the fluid isn't COMPLETELY flushed immediately. Is the coolant level even correct?

Doesn't sound like there was very much damage from the collision... seems most of the damage has been done by the folks attempting repairs.


When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you:

coley13 on Sat September 22, 2007 1:09 AM User is offline

unfortunately it's one of them things you probably wont be able to prove. i used to do air service for a smash repair business until they decided to make some extra money by doing it themselves. about a week later they bought a car into our workshop wondering why they couldnt pull a vacuum. i had a quick look and one of the liquid tubes were missing. point being alot of these businesses have absolutely NO idea what they are doing.

take it to an A/C specialist for a second opinion alot of dealerships dont have A/C specialists just mechanics that think they can work on A/C.

joytown on Sat September 22, 2007 8:04 AM User is offline

My wife called me last night - she had everything repaired by a Honda dealership. At least she
got a free rental for all the expense.

I was in Palm Springs when the car was sitting at the body shop - no radiator or condenser was
on the car and it had some damage to the body where these components mount.
There was definitely no moisture out there ( 115 during day 88 at night ) other than sprinkler
systems. I was thinking possible dust and dirt if anything might have contaminated the system while it
was sitting there for over a week.

I guess it really doesn't matter now as it has been repaired and payed for.
Thanks for all the input - I will ask my wife to have the coolant and transmission fluid checked out.

Thanks again

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