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Oldsmobile compressor reliability issues

4.0_olds on Sun May 27, 2012 3:54 PM User is offline

Year: 1995
Make: Oldsmobile
Model: Aurora
Engine Size: 4.0
Refrigerant Type: 134a
Country of Origin: United States

Do some makes, models, or years of vehicles suffer from premature compressor failures? I’m pretty sure my compressor locked up so I went to an Aurora forum to study up on the replacement procedure and it seems that there are a lot of low mileage failures of the compressor on this model. Even though my car is a 1995 it only has 65,000 miles on it. It was cooling great and about 1 mile from home I heard a screeching noise and it stopped cooling. I opened the hood and saw smoke coming from the compressor area, either from the overheated clutch or belt. I turned the A/C off and idled the engine for a while so the belt wouldn’t burn up resting against the hot clutch. The engine is mounted sideways and similar to a Cadillac Northstar engine. The compressor is mounted at the bottom of the engine and the whole engine compartment has always seemed brutally hot.

About 2 years ago the clutch friction plate separated into 2 pieces and I bought a new plate from GM. It was a different style so I assume they had problems with the older style.
About 6 months ago my compressor pulley bearing became noisy and I replaced it. I didn’t have to remove the compressor for either of these repairs.

The compressor is a GM HD6 possibly made by Harrison. I always like to buy original OEM parts but in this case maybe I should look for something else?

Can someone please suggest a reliable compressor brand? Should I get remanufactured or new? Any other replacement tips appreciated.


Edited: Sun May 27, 2012 at 3:59 PM by 4.0_olds

GM Tech on Sun May 27, 2012 5:16 PM User is offline

Have fun getting the suction discharge hose bolt out-- I do that last after the compressor is pushed forward an inch to allow clearance. You may have had mismatched pulley and clutch plate issues- that had not been worn in together- if you replaced either one separately--and you may have had the original clutch bonding separated due to clutch slippage which came from oil that weeped out of leaky single lip shaft seal. all new compressors have double lip shaft seals. So and overheated clutch could have worsened th eleak in the shaft seal- which also caused the second clutch to slip and smoke....or the compressor could have seized due to loss of refrigerant and/oil necessary to lubricate the swash plate and shoe balls-- brass against steel needs plenty of oil. I don't know of any other compressor to use than a Delphi based unit-they are probably out there though-- I certainly don't trust rebuilt-- they grind down the pulley face too thin-- I've seen 5 in my life separate (at pulley face) due to being too thin at the welds- My-self- I'd go with used- but I rebuild the unit- put in all new belly o-rings and double lip shaft seals and new clutches and pulley bearings...

The number one A/C diagnostic tool there is- is to know how much refrigerant is in the system- this can only be done by recovering and weighing the refrigerant!!
Just a thought.... 65% of A/C failures in my 3200 car diagnostic database (GM vehicles) are due to loss of refrigerant due to a leak......

4.0_olds on Mon May 28, 2012 6:59 AM User is offline

Thanks for the tips! Yeah, everyone on the Aurora forum mentioned the close working conditions when taking the suction/discharge bolt out. This is the first time the clutch has overheated. When the plate failed 2 years ago the rubber bond let go and the compressor just wouldn't drive anymore. The A/C has been working great since the plate replacement with no slipping noises. Everything looked dry when I replaced the pulley bearing 6 months ago but of course something could have changed recently. I will fire it up again today and see if the compressor seems locked up. I don't think I can reach the clutch plate to turn it by hand without taking some junk off.

4.0_olds on Sat June 02, 2012 3:35 PM User is offline

Compressor did lock up. I'm looking at a new 4 seasons (everco?) or an OEM Delphi. I read that 4 seasons designs their own 10 piston vs. 6 piston replacement compressors. There seems to be some confusion about the position of the coil connector. Some replacement compressors say 10 and others say 2 o'clock. I can't see what mine is.

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