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Subaru Outback compressor noise

MikeC5 on Sun September 12, 2010 6:25 PM User is offlineView users profile

Year: 2002
Make: Subaru
Model: Outback
Engine Size: 2.5
Refrigerant Type: R-134
Ambient Temp: 72
Pressure Low: 15
Pressure High: 160
Country of Origin: United States

Picked up this car at a good price since AC was not working (according to seller). They had an estimate from Midas saying bad compressor, etc. I checked static pressure at around 100 psi (engine not fully cool). I tried running it for a for a few minutes and compressor does engage, pressures about 15 psi low and 150-160 high at 70 degree ambient. Vent temperature down to 42-43 F before it would cycle and low pressure line from evap was cold/sweating so I know it is at least partially working. No strange noises while compressor is running.... WTF?

Today while under the hood for other reasons. I tried rotating the compressor by hand. It turned with little effort and was making a definite metallic noise as I was turning it. Noise was coming from the compressor for sure and almost felt like a bad bearing. I checked my other cars and found that as I suspected a compressor on a properly working system has a fair amount of resistance to rotation by hand. Shop manual says it is a vane type compressor. How can this compressor be generating any pressure? I suspect it isn't a good idea to run the system again... I realize compressor replacement is in my future but I'm curious about this behavior...

1stbscout on Sun September 12, 2010 11:47 PM User is offlineView users profile

vane type compressors do not have the same about of resistance as other types when turning by hand. I would agree with you to a certain point. If the compressor is not making noise when engine and a/c is running I would not think it has a problem. Listen to it with a stethoscope or a long screwdriver held against your ear while it is running. If it is still quiet I would run it.

MikeC5 on Mon September 13, 2010 9:44 PM User is offlineView users profile

Yea I'm going to do that. I checked a friend's 2002 Forester (with good working AC) and although the compressor had a little more resistance to hand rotation, it did make a similar sound.

MikeC5 on Thu September 16, 2010 1:53 PM User is offlineView users profile

No unusual sounds when running when checked with stethoscope. I'm going to go ahead and replace drier, TXV, flush, new oil & recharge and see what happens.

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