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2003 Windstar - Bad compressor?? - advice needed

foeller32 on Thu October 04, 2012 6:08 PM User is offline

Year: 2003
Make: Ford
Model: Windstar
Engine Size: 3.8
Refrigerant Type: 134a
Ambient Temp: 70
Pressure Low: 68
Pressure High: 98
Country of Origin: United States

I'm having trouble with my wife's 2003 Windstar. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, but don't have much experience with auto A/C systems. Not that doing my own repairs scares me - I just want to make sure that I know what I'm doing and that I'm doing it right. I've done some digging through the forum already, though, so it's all starting to make sense. But I still have a bunch of questions...

Trouble started a few months ago. I noticed that the compressor was just running a little louder than normal. About the same time, we noticed that the a/c would go a little warm at idle, but worked fine when driving or with the motor revved up a little. It got progressively worse, though, to the point that now the compressor just makes a lot or racket when the a/c is turned on. I do have access to the proper tools - manifold gauges, vacuum pump, etc - so I checked the pressures. 68 psi low side and 98 high side before the a/c was even turned on. But then turning on the a/c made absolutely no difference in pressure. Well, maybe the needle wiggled a little, but nothing worthwhile. The clutch is engaging and the compressor is certainly making noise. No "cycling" action like you normally see, though.

Her grandparent bought the van new and we are the second owners. I know for a fact that the a/c has never been serviced, never had freon added, and certainly never had any stop-leak or anything dumped in. Roughly 175K on the van, too - for what it's worth.

My first assumption is that I'm dealing with a bad compressor. Is this probably accurate? Is there a way to really test it or should I just change it to be safe? Is it possible that I just have a blockage somewhere instead? Or do I assume that whatever is blocking things up would also have destroyed the compressor at the same time?

Then, if I need to change the compressor, I've read that I should also change the accumulator/drier and the orfice tube. Is there anything else that I should automatically change? (BTW, this van does have a rear a/c unit also) I've also read that the system needs to be flushed. From what I've read, laquer thinner and compressed air are okay to use. Anything else that I should be aware of when flushing out the system?

I also don't quite understand the oil. Does most of the oil stay in the compressor? If I need to add oil, how do I know how much to add? Do I just pour it in while the system is still open before pumping it down to a vacuum? I do have a pump, scale, and manifold gauges (borrowed from a friend of a friend) so I'm at least good when it comes time to recharge (and I've done that part before)

Any recommendations on brands of parts to buy? I don't want to buy junk, but I don't want to pay 3x the price for Motorcraft just because it might be better, either.

Sorry for asking a million questions. Just figured I might as well get them all out up front. Thanks in advance for any help. If anyone would like to provide links to other pages - even here in the forum - with information that might be helpful, I'd appreciate it.

ezautoac on Thu October 04, 2012 10:26 PM User is offline

Yes you are dealing with a bad compressor , but compressor don't usually go bad unless there is another problem. The fact that you said there is no change in pressure means its not sucking or blowing(bad compressor) will need to flush out the discharge line, all the way to the orifice tube. Also chances are your condenser is going to be semi plugged from the metal filling you going to find after you open up the lines. If i were you I would change the OT, condenser, compressor(remember to add oil as manufacturer specs AND IN THE RIGHT PORT!) and flush the lines from the compressor, all the way up to the orifice tube. After evacuating the system and charging it with the correct amount of refrigerant, let the system run and if it seems to be working fine check the temperature of the compressor while its running. should be around 60C degrees. once it comes back down to around 60C your OK. (and just don't add ounces and ounces just to reach that magic number 60C that's just an general rule of thumb, as in if you see it at 80 add oil if it comes back down to 65 after a few ounces, leave it).

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