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Fried Compressor Clutch

Cloner on Mon October 13, 2008 6:56 PM User is offline

Year: 2000
Make: Dodge
Model: Intrepid
Engine Size: 2.7
Refrigerant Type: 134a
Ambient Temp: 80
Country of Origin: United States

Pressures on low/high side have been within limits for the past 2 years. On a recent road trip, the air coming out of the vents indicated that the A/C cycle wasn't operating so I hit the "compressor disengage" button on the control panel (a nice feature on the Intrepid). I thought the freon had bled out so I planned to stop at the next town to buy a couple of quick charge cans and be on my way. Well, before I got there I started smelling a bad odor coming from the engine compartment and double checked that I had turned off the compressor. Too late. When I lifted the hood the clutch was smoking like a teenager behind the shed and it was still turning despite my having turned it off. I was just going to slide the belt off but the A/C belt is on the inside of the other accessory belt so out came the knife and I cut the belt off.

So I threw the gauges on this afternoon and there's 85 psi on both sides so I think the charge is in the neighborhood (or at least enough to not have caused the clutch failure). I then tried to remove the clutch but the bolt is turning the shaft so that's going nowhere fast.

Question (finally). Is there a way to change the clutch or is it just more cost effective to replace the compressor? The one answer I'm half expecting is that the only way to remove the clutch is to remove the compressor from the car. If that's the case, (and I can't imagine getting a clutch for under $100 anyway), I guess I've just answered my own question.

mk378 on Mon October 13, 2008 8:59 PM User is offline

Sounds like the pulley bearing has failed. That part turns all the time whether the compressor is engaged or not.

They make a tool to hold the plate so you can unscrew the bolt without the compressor turning. Clutches can usually be replaced on the car if you can reach the compressor while it is installed. Sometimes the bearing can be purchased seperately. Servicing just the clutch can cost less but it is a lot of fiddling around compared to just putting a new compressor/ clutch on if you are already equipped to evacuate and recharge the system.

JACK ADAMS on Tue October 14, 2008 11:18 AM User is offline

Just an FYI, you are best to look at the compressor nose shaft before you just replace the compressor clutch shaft….. The clutch burn out may have damaged the nose cone of the compressor. Again, just an FYI. Hope this is not the case but you never know…..

Cloner on Tue October 14, 2008 11:36 AM User is offline

Thanks for the info. While I was tossing and turning it occurred to me that perhaps the shaft seal is leaking and oil could have made the clutch slip contributing to its failure. Plus the bearing was making a noise prior to the belt "surgery." I did have to tighten the belt earlier this year as the belt would squeal on initial engagement but would go away when the head pressure came down (those 100 degree days do strain the system) so perhaps the added tension was too much for the bearing. I have added about 12 oz (freon) over the past year and my sniffer didn't pick up any leaks at the shrader valves or other connections (I overlooked the shaft seal since the compressor's only a couple of years old). So if I do go through the trouble to just replace the clutch (and the seal's bad), I'll be doing it again sooner than I'd like and the time/trouble factor exceeds the cost of just replacing the whole shootin' match.

Thanks again for the input/feedback.

bohica2xo on Tue October 14, 2008 1:12 PM User is offline

You have plenty of work to do. You have been topping up a leaker, and it has finally bit you in the backside.

Your assumption that 85psi static is good enough, is not true in any way. You can have a couple ounces of refrigerant in the system, and see 85 psi. No oil will be returning to the compressor and you will be destroying the compressor.

Since you say the compressor is only a couple of years old, what was the reason the compressor was replaced? What work was done when the compressor was replaced?


"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, M. K. Gandhi, page 446.

Cloner on Tue October 14, 2008 6:29 PM User is offline

You're right. The replacement was because the original compressor ate itself, seized, and shredded the belt. That was my introduction to ACKITS. I bought a new compressor, drier/accum, seals, expansion valve, and nylog sealant. I also got the Hecat flushing system and a vacuum pump. But I'm embarrassed to admit that I think I put in the wrong viscosity oil (too high). And since the compressor came "precharged" with oil, I probably added too much into the drier on install. I did flush the system, replaced the condenser and expansion valve. I'm further embarrassed to admit that the replacement O rings didn't seem as large as the original ones I took off. They were green vice the original black ones and although seemed the correct diameter, they weren't as thick/have as much material as the ones I was replacing--despite having ordered the correct year of Dodge manufacturing. They didn't fill the grooves like the originals but did offer some resistance when I put the tubes together but I would have preferred a bit more snugness. The system held the vacuum so in went the freon. I know, just because it'll hold 29" vacuum doesn't mean it'll hold 150-200 psi on the plus side. And apparently it didn't.

Standing by to be berated for my novice mistakes!!

TRB on Wed October 15, 2008 9:18 PM User is offlineView users profile

Just responded to you email Cloner.

Thanks for the support!!!!!


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

HECAT on Thu October 16, 2008 6:32 AM User is offline

Originally posted by: Cloner
Standing by to be berated for my novice mistakes!!

WHY? How do you think many here know what they know? Trial and error (aka mistakes).

When it come to fluid and gas connections, "good enough" may be applied to tapered pipe threads. Most o-ring sealing applications require a min-max tolerance of .003". So if you can see a difference in the o-rings with your eye, it is out of spec.


HECAT: You support the Forum when you consider for your a/c parts.


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