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Intermittent growling sound - FIXED (I believe)

Cussboy on Wed August 29, 2012 9:10 AM User is offline

Year: 1998
Make: Nissan
Model: Frontier
Engine Size: 4 cyl
Refrigerant Type: R134a
Country of Origin: United States

I'm looking for a second opinion here. 1998 Frontier 4-cylinder, 177K miles, factory AC, all original components except for idler below.

Yesterday developed an intermittent growl (not a squeal) only when the AC is operational, about 2% of the time. Cooling is not affected, and doesn't happen when the AC compressor is manually switched off.

Last March when my daughter had it in Flagstaff, she said the Frontier was making a noise, I told her to take it to a shop, but a few days later she said the noise went away by itself. when she brought it down, I found the AC belt off and the aC idler pulley seized solid, so it must've come on with the defroster. I bought a new pulley at CarQuest, so 5 months later that's my prime suspect.

But I removed the pulley, and it's not seized, doesn't feel too bad, but like I stated: it's an intermittent. So I'll be swapping in a new idler pulley today.

I figure that if it was an AC clutch bearing that the noise would be the opposite, like go away once the AC clutch was locked up. Or can an old compressor growl intermittently like this?

Any comments? Thanks.

Edited: Wed August 29, 2012 at 10:58 PM by Cussboy

Dougflas on Wed August 29, 2012 2:12 PM User is offline

Did you check the tightness of the compressor mounting bolts?

Cussboy on Wed August 29, 2012 2:32 PM User is offline

Originally posted by: Dougflas
Did you check the tightness of the compressor mounting bolts?

No. But I will, good idea.

Cussboy on Wed August 29, 2012 11:04 PM User is offline

OK, the compressor bolts were tight. Mrs. Cussboy picked up a warranty replacement AC idler today, and I installed that, under 10 minutes. 5 mile test drive with AC on showed no issues, no sound.

I think I may know why though. The replacement idler pulley is different design than the original Nissan one, and actually will fit on either way facing front, but the two "faces" are different, different "depth compared to the edge. One side is a little raised, and the other side is a little recessed, maybe under 2 mm. So even though the idler CAN go on in two different ways, only ONE is correct. So I believe that I got it correct this time, don't know about before. I scratched "FRONT" into the front side of the new idler pulley, may help me in the future. Maybe - just maybe - if suppler had spent 2 cents for paint on the first replacement idler that said "front" or a small piece of paer showing this, they wouldn't be getting the former part back as defective.

I checked the Nissan 1998 Frontier service manual too, couldn't locate anything about the AC idler pulley.

Edited: Wed August 29, 2012 at 11:05 PM by Cussboy

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