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Leaking compressor?

Thecosmicenergy on Tue April 07, 2015 7:02 PM User is offlineView users profile

Year: 2001
Make: Chevy
Model: Malibu
Engine Size: 3.1V6
Refrigerant Type: r134
Ambient Temp: 55-70F
Country of Origin: United States

(Note: I'm somewhat new to A/C r&r). Excuse the novel I am about to write, but I want to thoroughly explain the situation. This issue is with my mother's car. Last year towards the end of summer, it started putting out less cooler air, so she took it in to a trusted general mechanic's shop, and he added some r134. Worked fine for the rest of that season...this spring,...when A/C was first used...NO cold air at all....I checked & verified that the comp clutch was not engaging.

She took it in, and he put 1.3lbs of refrig. (full/total capacity) in it and said he used a sniffer to test for leaks, found the high side valve was, I guess, leaking, because he replaced it. Said thats all he saw then, but put some green dye in the system and told her to come back by after a period of time so he could check it again. Since the weather was still in the 55-70F temps here, she never even used the A/C at all until 2-3 days later after it was in the shop initially, but when she did, it was not cooling. I verified that the compressor was not engaging again. She took it back to the shop right away, and he said the refrigerant had all already leaked out again, and it appeared to be leaking from the back of the compressor. He described it to me (over the phone) as a block off "plug" where a high pressure sensor, if used, would have been? Does this sound correct? He also said that the shop had never had "any luck" in fixing this type of leak by just replacing the seal on this "plug". Does this sound correct/plausible?

The shop is quoting around $500 to replace the compressor, accumulator, and orifice (he said about $150 of which would be labor), so wanting to help save her money, I sourced my own compressor kit from Autozone (Compressorworks with lifetime warranty) that includes new Compressorworks/4Seasons compressor, accumulator, orifice, o-ring kit, and 8oz PAG 150 oil. Paid just over $200 after all was said and done.

I just realized though, that I am relying on his diagnosis of this failed, non-repairable "plug", as the basis of my expenditure. I know my way around a vehicle pretty well, and feel like I am quite competent to do the majority of the "labor" myself, but I find myself worrying "what if he is wrong about this plug being the fail point". Before I start replacing these components, I was hoping to get some "second opinions" on this "plug" failure.

Edited: Wed April 08, 2015 at 1:50 AM by Thecosmicenergy

Dougflas on Tue April 07, 2015 10:24 PM User is offline

You can purchase a flashlight with the proper LED in it and a pair of yellow glasses to find the leaking dye. ABe advised you will also need a vacuum pump, a set of guages, to replace the refrigerant.

James89dx on Wed April 08, 2015 4:20 PM User is offline

Yes like Douglfas said - go to Autozone and buy one of their cheapo UV light/yellow glasses sets. Wait until it's dark outside and hunt around you should have zero problem instantly finding (or verifying) the leak, assuming the system does have dye in it. It's nearly impossible to miss neon green amongst a sea of darkness.

Although I am also dubious of the "plug" not being fixable assuming it is not physically damaged. If it's just a screw-in type with an o-ring and it is truly leaking at that spot, there is no reason to believe a new o-ring shouldn't fix it.

Thecosmicenergy on Wed April 08, 2015 6:37 PM User is offlineView users profile

It has been 2 weeks since the dye was put in, will it still be in the system at this point?

So do these V5 compressors have a known issue where they leak from a plug in the butt-end? I was mainly hoping for a little reassurance that this mechanic knows what he is talking about.

mk378 on Wed April 08, 2015 9:03 PM User is offline

Dye moves in the system's oil, so it needs the system charged up and running before the dye will come out of a leak. When the car is parked, typically only gas will come out, unless the leak is in a low spot that stays covered with dyed oil.

With that said, a leak that leaks out in a few days is typically easy to find with a sniffer.

V-5's typically leak from the case joint or the shaft seal.

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