Can you help me diagnose the source of my a/c problem?
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This is a discussion on Can you help me diagnose the source of my a/c problem? within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Hello, this is my first time on the forums and I have a hopefully quick question to ask. I own ...

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    Can you help me diagnose the source of my a/c problem?

    Hello, this is my first time on the forums and I have a hopefully quick question to ask. I own a 2002 Outback Impreza the wagon with the bug eye lights not the sport version. I love it. But the a/c isn't working and I want to start fixing my car problems myself. So in other words I don't really know that much about cars but I have some mechanical experience with dirt bikes and I'm willing to learn. Thought I would ask you guys so I can pin down the problem and see what I need to do to fix it. So the heat works fine the a/c didn't work until I took it to shop and now it "kinda" works. When I turn the a/c on cool air will come out in waves but its not normal and it makes a loud screeching sound that comes from the front of the car. Could this be the a/c clutch belt slipping? What else can I do to troubleshoot my problem. Thanks for reading.

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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    Sounds like you're off to a good start.. the screeching sound should either be the belt, or the clutch itself. Usually to properly troubleshoot A/C problems, the first thing you will need to do is hook a good set of gauges up to the high and low pressure sides of the A/C system and verify that the pressures are behaving as they should. A lot of A/C places will do this kind of diagnosis for you for free (assuming that you will pay them later on to fix it).

    I would watch the A/C compressor while you have it on just to see if it's the belt slipping. If the belt doesn't slip, but the clutch does (and you know the pressure in the system is correct, not over filled), you can try tapping on the front of the clutch with a screw driver to see if you can make it kick on. It's magnetically controlled, so sometimes all it needs is a little extra metal there to grab. If it clicks, grabs, and start blowing cool air, then it's likely that the clutch and coil just need to be replaced (about $200 in parts). Although, if the compressor is seizing up, causing the clutch to slip, you may need to just go ahead and replace the whole thing.

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    Cool thank you for the information I will run it today i'm pretty sure i will need to buy a compressor though unfortunately.

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    Just took a look at it. The refrigerant is full belt was running fine for a while a/c was strong in the car but every once in a while there was a screech and the belt would stop. Guess I need a new compressor? But a/c works fine and belt continued running even though it stops every 30 sec. I am hoping I can still run it for now without causing harm correct? I don't really want to buy a new compressor right now its not my top priority.

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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    It could just be that the pressure is slightly too high, or it could be that the clutch is wearing out.. or it could be that the compressor is going bad. You would have to hook it up to a good set of gauges to tell.

    It shouldn't really hurt the compressor to run it like it is, but you might end up ruining the clutch and coil if you keep making it slip.. although they might already be going bad.

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