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98 windstar AC clutch would not engage

97windsatr3.8 on Sun June 29, 2008 5:47 PM User is offline


I am new and just found this site today.

I ahve 1998 windstar GL(3.8 engine, auto). Yesterday, I just found the AC stop wrok and the clutch would not engage.

Also, the drive belt sufferd more friction than normal.

My question is what cause the AC clutch would not engage? If the clutch can not engage , could this cause the AC compressor make more friction to the drive belt?

Below is the post I made in another windstar forum.



Thank you.
You suspect a problem with the ac clutch as your belt broke.

Was your ac on when you started your van? -->NO, I turn my car when A/C off.

I assume you put a new belt on the ac and it turned ok? -->The new belt work ok. But it suffer more friction as the old belt and the cold start noise still there.

The clutch pulley turns easily and smoothly? -->I did not check it when I replace the drive belt because in that monent I did not notice the A/C clutch have problem.

Have you tried engaging the ac clutch/turned on the ac since the breakage? -->Yes. After I replace the new belt, I notice the new belt syfferd more friction , then I troed turn on the A/C and found the AC clutch woult not engage

Have someone engage it while you watch to see what it does and to turn it off immediately. -->Yes, may be NO. I let wife turn on the AC and I watch the AC clutch. The AC was turn on/off several times during 5 minutes peroid . After that, Wife drive the car with the AC on almost half hours until the airbag warning light on. Then I found fuse 21 keep blow(I replace new on and it bow after 5 minute drive)

Just in 15,July, The AC work perfict.

Later, we found there is noise when start it. After I replaced new belt, I found noise still there when start. I checked the new belt and found there are more friction there and cause the start noise.

I dig down and found the A/C stop working and clutch would not engage when I turn on the A/C switch.

So, I doubt the A/C clutch and the A/C puller cause too much friction and cause the old belt broken.
Now the new drive belt suffer more friction and the cold start noise still there.

ALso, I found the fuse 21 under the dashboard keep blow after the drive belt was changed from yesterday.

My plan is :

1: check the circuit (but I even do not know the circuit diagram and where thay located and how thay fuction in my 98 WS.)

2: How to check if the circuit is bad or the A/C clutch is bad?
Other word, how to by pass the A/C control circuit and to check if the clutch engage or not by directly connecting 12V battery ?

3: IF the control circuit is ok and the clutch is ok, how to check the compressor bear is ok or not?

4: IF need chnage the clutch or compressor, .....

Sorry, too much questions and to-do list. It is not funny :-(

Chick on Sun June 29, 2008 9:09 PM User is offlineView users profile

To much information, take the belt off and try to turn the pulley, and then the outer clutch plate, the pulley should turn freely, like any pulley, the clutch should turn with no binding, smoothly..Post back what you find..Also the pulley should not have any noise, and again, turn freely and quietly..Let us know what you find..

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

Chick on Sun June 29, 2008 9:10 PM User is offlineView users profile

BTW if it's blowing the compressor fuse, the pulley may have worn to the point that it's shorting the coil...

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

mk378 on Sun June 29, 2008 9:53 PM User is offline

Like Chick said, the pulley should spin freely and very quietly. This can be checked by taking the belt off and spinning it by hand. If you have friction with the compressor off, the pulley bearing is bad. When the bearing/clutch has burnt up to the point that the coil is shorted out too, that's likely to have made enough heat to melt the compressor shaft seal. So consider replacing the entire compressor instead of just the clutch.

Also fuse could be blowing because of shorted wires that were damaged by the belt breaking.

97windsatr3.8 on Tue July 01, 2008 9:50 AM User is offline

This morning, I taken the drive belt and check the AC compressor. I found the pulley is not tightening. I can very easily budge it up/down or left/right. It seems the bear is damaged. Also, The clutch is hard to turn by my hand.

Does it mean that the pulley bear damaged or clutch bear damaged?

I did not take the whole compressor out to check what happened yet.

Any one have similar experience?

I will try take the whole compressor out later and post back further information.

Any suggestion what need to do next step?


mk378 on Tue July 01, 2008 10:50 AM User is offline

Sounds like you need a new compressor, as the center part is hard to turn too. Check if there is any refrigerant left with a manifold gauge. If it's all gone it's probably because the seal on the compressor melted and blew out. Don't actually remove the compressor yet, as you don't want to leave the lines open. You can try taking the clutch off with it still in the car.

Edited: Tue July 01, 2008 at 10:51 AM by mk378

97windsatr3.8 on Tue July 01, 2008 1:01 PM User is offline

Originally posted by: mk378
Don't actually remove the compressor yet, as you don't want to leave the lines open. You can try taking the clutch off with it still in the car.


Could you please tell the reason why do not leave the lines open? If I must replace the compressor, how to avoid open the lines?

I never work on AC before.


97windsatr3.8 on Thu July 03, 2008 11:15 AM User is offline

Thanks every one.

I checked the AC and found the R134a freon still there. It might be just the AC compressor bear has been damaged.

I will replac ethe Drier/orifice tube/ compressor.

My question is:

1: where the orifice is located on 1998 windstar (3.8 engine.) Or , generally, where it loacted?
2: how to release the ac pipe coupler to change all of O-ring and replace orifuce tube?

3: Sinece the R134a still there, if I just quickly replace the compressor/orifuce tube/drier, Do I need reflash the whole system? I know I must pull a vacuum before recharge it.


Edited: Thu July 03, 2008 at 11:17 AM by 97windsatr3.8

Chick on Thu July 03, 2008 1:39 PM User is offlineView users profile

If there is refrigerant in the system, you need to bring it to a shop to recover what is in there. It could be dangerous to open the lines under pressure, and you can also have them confirm that your compressor is shot. The O tube is in the line going from the condenser to the evaporator. Should have three dimples in the line, unless it sticks in the bottom of the evaporator..Hope this helps.

Email: Chick


Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

97windsatr3.8 on Sat July 05, 2008 11:06 PM User is offline

got used compressor from JY yesterday and checked it in good condition. I keep the wire and test it by 12V in home and the clutch engaged.


I cleared it and refill 6OZ PAG46( totally need 10OZ, since there are some reminder in Drier, I just refill 6OZ on it.).

Then I remove the old one and replaced it.

After removed the 10mm center boult and the clutch driver, I found how the puller was broken .
. Photobucket

This is why the drive belt sufferd more frictrion and finally broken.


I will pull a vacuum and refill R134a and bring the cool back later.

Is here any FORD tech? I have problem to seperate the ac pipe in order to replace the drier.
Actualy , my question is how take the coupler out and re-install it later.


Edited: Sat July 05, 2008 at 11:07 PM by 97windsatr3.8

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