Engine Size: 3.1
Refrigerant Type: R134a
Ambient Temp: 75
Pressure Low: 20
Pressure High: 20
Country of Origin: United States
Lots of great information here I found through the searches but still had questions.
Purchased this car just before winter and the AC seemed to cool but haven't tried it again until a few weeks
ago. Added 1 can of freon and noticed that I have a leak from the compressor. From what I see it appears to
be the shaft seal or the large compressor O rings (v5 correct?). From the tutorials I've seen, I believe I could replace the seals
myself as do try to do work on my cars when I can but haven't done much with A/C.
My questions, how would I know if the compressor is completely shot or is it only a bad seal?
I was thinking of checking the orifice tube to see if any metal was in there. If no metal, would a seal replacement suffice?
If no metal should I flush?
Also, one of the lines to the compressor has one of those mufflers on it. Can this be flushed or must be replaced?
The evaporator, condenser, and lines are the only items to be flushed correct? I know to replace the Drier o-rings, and Orifice tube.
The way I tell if pump is okay is to put the factory charge in it- see if it pumps- then I pull the charge out, remove the pump and replace the o-rings and the shaft seal-(I can do this because I own a recovery machine). There is no need to ever flush for a leaky system- just fix the leak and you'll be fine.
There are V-5 rebuild kits on-line.
You have a Lumina- I assume W-car sedan- the orifice tube is a PITA to get to- so I'd ignore it- since your failure mode is a leak. It would not need to be changed unless there are serious pressure issues.
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......
Charged the system and it seems fine but seeing this is an OE compressor from 97 I question how long before it would go internally, not sure how long a compressor
is supposed to last.
83 Degrees Ambient Temp with 44% humidity. The temp at the center vent was 42 degrees while the car was parked and 43 to 45 degrees driving around.
Being new to AC work I'm still not confident what the gauge readings mean.
This is the reading after I charged while engine running:
This was static after charging.
Compressor still leaking pretty good at the seams. I'll have my mechanic pull the charge so it all
won't leak out in the air.
Think it's still worth doing the seals? If so, when I break it down, is there anything inside I should be aware
of that would note a bad compressor and need replacing? Also, I had read something about a double lip seal and I'm unsure of what I
would need. This is a Delphi.
Edited: Sun April 28, 2013 at 4:56 PM by Chriskc
How many miles on the car ?
My wife drives a 1996 Lumina with 140,000 + plus miles .
Earlier in the year I replaced the clutch / pulley bearing .
Recently I replaced the seal on my 1991 Caprice ( inherited from Dad ) with 40,000 + miles . Seal went bad while the car was in storage .
You can rent loaner tools from the local parts store . Except the seal remover tool . I bought it online for less than $ 30 .
I am pretty sure your compressor has the lip seal , not the carbon / ceramic seal . My 91 Caprice has the lip seal .
If you have the tooling , this can be done DIY . I already had the common tools plus the vacuum pump and gauges .
Remember do a lot of reading and research before you start .
PS You said the compressor is leaking at the seams ? The body of the compressor ? I have no experience with that .
Or is it leaking where the hoses attach to the compressor ?
Edited: Sun May 12, 2013 at 9:59 AM by WyrTwister
My 1997 Lumina has 90,000 miles on it. Didn't get a response for a while on this thread so I went ahead and
ordered a compressor seal kit and a shaft seal kit. Broke it down and put it back together. Inside looked good
no metal shavings and no scarring. Rented some tools if I didn't already have them.
Yes, this one was leaking at the body seams at the large o-rings, not the hoses. I didn't get a seal removal tool. Since I took the body apart
I just tapped the seal from behind with a screwdriver and came right out.
I got the double lip shaft seal and it was kind of a tight fit over the shaft protector. Even though I lubed the protector, I somehow managed
to roll the seal outward on the outer lip so I've ordered another since it was damaged and didn't want to chance it.
While I got the system apart I'm gonna go ahead and replace the accumulator and orifice tube since they are so easy to get to.
Still need to search around and find out how much oil to put back in the compressor and accumulator.
Thanks for the response!
Edited: Sun May 12, 2013 at 7:08 PM by Chriskc
I found that video. I will try that before I install it. Should help.
Nice chart on component oil capacities. I replaced the orifice tube and took off the accumulator.
Most suggest measuring how much oil comes out. Well, I could not get 1 drop of oil out of that
accumulator which leads me to suspect my whole AC system is pretty dry on oil. I only got half
an ounce out of the compressor when I disassembled it. That chart says to put 3oz in the accumulator
but I may need to add extra oil.
The only PAG oil I could find has the ICE additive to it. The 8 ounce package says that 7 ounces is oil
and 1 ounce is ICE additive. It's a bit confusing because my system holds 8 ounces of oil and the bottle
tells my I'm only adding 7 ounces of actual oil. Then 1 bottle for the system would be too little oil? Don't know, weird.
The orifice tube on the 97 Lumina should be the same on your 96. It's so, so easy. It's about 4 inches from the high
side valve toward the firewall. Just unscrew the fitting and pull the pipe off. You can see the tip of the orifice tube right inside the line.
Just get some needle nose pliers and pull it out. It goes in only one way so remember how you pulled it out.
When I replaced the compressor on the 2002 Buick Century , I bought an 8 oz container of PAG 150 at O'Reilly Auto Parts .
When you say about 4 inches from the high side valve , you are talking about the high pressure / liquid line service port ? On the driver's side of the engine compartment ?
The 96 Lumina had been parked also , until some one ran into ( and totaled ) the 2002 Century , last winter .
I got the Lumina back to running , after replacing the compressor clutch pulley bearing . First time I vacuumed it down & gassed it up , I added some red dye . It leaked down in 2 - 3 weeks .
At about where you are describing , I found the fittings and what was possibly a trace of red . I tightened it up the best I could ( the car had a slow leaked before we parked it ) . Since there was still a little pressure in the system , I gassed it up ( did not vacuum it down ) again . It would yield approximately 40 degree F air at the vents .
Last time I asked my wife , she said the A/C was still working . So , I hope I had found and repaired the leak ?
So , the fittings where I tightened probably is where the orifice tube is located ?
Thanks , :-)
Edited: Tue May 14, 2013 at 6:54 AM by WyrTwister
Yes, the high side service port. Sounds like the fitting you tightened is the one where the orifice tube is.
Try to clean the red dye off of the fitting you tightened to see if any more red is coming out. I used the UV dye with a
UV light. It works great
Just an update post:
Everything seems to be working as it should!
When installing the shaft seal I "prestretched" it as noted in the post above. Went on much easier. I pushed the seal down on the lower end of the shaft seal protector
before I placed the shaft protector on the shaft. That way I wouldn't have far to push on the seal to get it into place and also to know the seal didn't roll on me like the first
When I replaced the accumulator not a single drop of oil came out and I only got 1/2 an ounce out of the compressor when I took it apart so I felt there was
almost no oil in the system so I added 3 ounces to the compressor and 5 ounces to the accumulator (my system holds 8 oz total).
Put it on the vacuum several times and could not get it to hold. Sometimes it leaked fast and sometimes it only lost a little then stopped at a certain point. Because
of the odd loss each time I suspected it was the port valve cores. I replace both my high and low port valve cores just to be sure and that fixed the vacuum leak.
It's possible I bent a core putting on the Manifold Gauges.
NOTE: A bicycle core removal tool is too short and will not reach the core. Went to Advance and purchased the kit with the cores and a removal tool for around $4.00. Autozone and Pep
Boys have these same kits. DO NOT BUY IT. THE CORE REMOVAL TOOL IN THIS KIT DOES NOT WORK. It is too large in diameter and stops right at the core and will not grab it. I
returned it and went to O'reilly's and purchased a valve core torque tool. It's basically a screwdriver with a core remover on the end. Around $3.50.
Put a full charge on it and is cooling great! Watched it for a few days and did notice a slight bit of UV dye coming from one of the compressor case bolts.
I torqued them to spec but I have a cheap torque wrench so maybe that was the issue. This is on a Chevy Lumina so it was easy to get an open end wrench
on the case bolts to tighten without removing the compressor. Though to get to the back bolt I removed the tire and reached through the fender well.
Cooling got down to 42 degrees but varies slightly depending on how hot it is outside which is normal.
Edited: Mon May 27, 2013 at 4:05 PM by Chriskc
I used the kit from O'Reilly's , but the schrader valve on the high side port was different than the one I changed on the low side port ? Actually , the port was different , kind of a 2 piece assembly with the schrader valve " sandwiched between the 2 pieces ?
The bottom piece seemed to be welded to the tube ( makes sense ) . The top piece screwed into the bottom piece . Tried to unscrew it , but it was too tight and did not want to mess it up and have to replace the line .
Any help would be appreciated , please .
I finished replacing the compressor shaft seal last weekend & put 2 cans of 134a into the system . Probably needs another 1/2 can .
A little over a week later ( Monday ) I was still getting 40 - 50 degree F air at the vent .
By the way , can you give part numbers or photos , of the schrader valve tools ?
Thanks , :-)
PS When I removed the R4 compressor from the 91 Caprice , to replace the seal , it had zero oil in the compressor and the old accumulator .
I got the Santech valve core kit from Autozone. Here it is. This is for a 97 Lumina double check your year. Santech Valve Core Kit
My low side had a normal valve core like a tire and the core is the only thing replaced.
Looking down into my high side port it looked like a ball in there. Like the part shown in the kit above, the high side
unscrews from the line and the whole round metal piece is replaced, not just a core. Base on the look of the round metal piece it appears there is a special
tool designed to remove it but I got an adjustable wrench for this. It wanted to round off but I was able to break it loose without rounding the edges. You could
probably get a good grip with a pair of pliers and it would also work.
My Lumina takes 1.88 lbs of 134a so I put a full 3 cans in mine. I've read it takes a little extra because of the lines. 3 cans did fine on mine. Plus there
is no way to get 1.88 lbs from 3 cans without getting some in the atmosphere and I didn't want that.
Here is what I used to remove the cores. Found it at O'reillys: Valve Core Remover
Edited: Tue May 28, 2013 at 5:06 PM by Chriskc
Thank you very much for the valve core info ! :-)
There is 12 oz in a can of 134a , so , 1.88 pounds comes out to almost exactly 2-1/2 cans . In my case , I would estimate 1/2 can in the Lumina and put the remaining 1/2 can in the Caprice .
Right now , our Lumina has about 2 cans in it . Vent is blowing 40 - 50 degrees F . Gassed it up a week ago from last Sunday . If it leaks down again I will try to replace the high side service port schrader valve with the kit you indicated .
I may be wrong , but it seems the vent air gets a tiny bit colder , if the system is a tiny bit under charged ? As compared to a tiny bit over charged ?
Thanks again , :-)
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