It's getting very warm outside.....need A/C help
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This is a discussion on It's getting very warm outside.....need A/C help within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I have a question for anyone or any service tech. No other tech reps at the dealerships will speak with ...

  1. #1
    Registered User HRTATAK's Avatar
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    It's getting very warm outside.....need A/C help

    I have a question for anyone or any service tech. No other tech reps at the dealerships will speak with me. I have a 2002 WRX and I'm having trouble with my A/C. There seems to be a clog somewhere because the compressor kicks on and stays on but no cold air comes out of the vents. i tried to find some sort of filter, but it seems these cars use an expansion valve. I don't know if this is the problem....or the condenser may be bad.....clogged line...I have drawn a blank. I don't even know how to get to the expansion valve. I bought a new compressor thinking that was the problem, but now the old one still wants to work....it had too much freon before (my fault) which caused it to lock up, but draining some made it work again ( you think the dealership will give me my money back for the new one?). Anyway, this thing is driving me crazy and any tech info would be GREATLY appreciated.

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    Registered User wrx wagone's Avatar
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    I'm just going to ask bacause you need to make sure the simple things are done first...

    Is the system fully charged with freon?
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  4. #3
    Registered User HRTATAK's Avatar
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    Yes, it was fully charged. I accidently over-filled it, drained it all back out, then put in the proper amaount. It took the freon fine....the tube between the low pressure valve and the compressor was ice cold, but the air from the vents was not even cool. Then, after filling it with freon, I checked the pressure on the low side and it wouldn't even register on the gauge.....the high side was a different story...lots of pressure. This thing is killing me. I really don't want to put it in the shop for something I may be able to fix myself.

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    Registered User HRTATAK's Avatar
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    Anyone else? Anyone with a service manual? I'm getting desperate.

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    Registered User leebo's Avatar
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    Exact same symptoms here. With some help from an experienced Mazda mechanic/friend, we pretty much determined the symptoms are pointing towards the expansion valve. Reading up on various Impreza forum posts, it sounds like a somewhat common failure.

    I went ahead and bought a new expansion valve from my dealer for about $85. Retail is about $105; he gave me a break on the price. I'm planning on doing the repair myself, but I'll need to borrow my friend's gauges (and probably use his evacuation machine). I don't have a service manual but was lucky to find this link w/ a complete 2002 Subaru Service Manual pdf file set.

    http://www.ken-gilbert.com/wrx/impreza_manuals.htm

    The expansion valve is shown in this manual (page AC-4), and if you follow the directions for removing the evaporator, you're essentually removing the expansion valve:

    http://www.ken-gilbert.com/wrx/mans/6%20-%20BODY.PDF

    As expected, this looks like this is going to be one pain in the a$$. Just thumbing through the removal procedures to get to the evaporator, the instructions basically say to remove the dash. What?!?! There's got to be a better way.

    I'll report back once the repair is complete.
    Last edited by leebo; 06-11-2006 at 09:11 PM.

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    did you check the line that runs behind the intercooler? do you have an upgraded tmic?

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    Registered User HRTATAK's Avatar
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    After some trial and error, i found that my expansion valve was stuck shut. This is going to be long, but I'll try to explain the best I can. The dash doesn't have to come out. Remove the glove box with a phillips screwdriver. After that, remove the blower motor and surrounding plastic. This piece only has one 10mm screw on the bottom right side and one 10mm nut on bottom left side. You have to pull and twist to get this thing out. Once that is done you can see the expansion valve next to the firewall. Remove the white plastic around the ex. valve with a phillips screwdriver...5 screws I think. One screw is accessible by turning your control knob to defroster..and one is hidden in the top right . Now pop the hood and remove the A/C lines with a 10mm rachet. Then remove the 2 allen screws. The allen screws go all the way though to the lines inside the car. Then pull the lines inside the car away from the ex. valve. Remove the ex. valve from inside the car...along with the pass-thru assembly. Replace the ex. valve with a new one and repeat these steps in reverse order...make sure not to pinch and split an o-ring. I didn't even pull a vacuum...I just pumped in 19 oz. of freon and my A/C is now working great. Hope this helps. Overall time for swapping the ex. valve was about 45 min.

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    Registered User leebo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ted dibiase
    did you check the line that runs behind the intercooler? do you have an upgraded tmic?
    Not sure which line you're talking about. Perhaps one of the AC lines? I have a stock IC. In fact, with the exception of fatter tires and kartboy shifter bushings, the entire car is stock. The system is indeed holding pressure; there doesn't appear to be any leaks.

    Quote Originally Posted by HRTATAK
    Hope this helps. Overall time for swapping the ex. valve was about 45 min.
    This helps big time! I figured there would be an easier way. Thanks for posting these tips.

  10. #9
    Registered User leebo's Avatar
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    Ok, I just finished swapping out my expansion valve. I still need to charge the system; will do in a couple days when I get a minute. Yep, it was still a PITA, but not too bad. I'm a lot slower though... I took more like 2 hours to do the repair but if I were to do it again, 1 hour would be realistic. BIG thanks to HRTATAK for the steps and tips. I took some photos and will try to add to his notes.

    Before you do anything, evacuate the refrigerent. I bled mine out and still had a little pressure when I opened the system... which was probably a sign that the expansion valve was still trapping some pressure somewhere.

    1) Remove glove box. There are 9 screws and 1 plastic finishing "screw" that pops out. A connector for the glove box light has to be disconnected.


    2) Remove blower motor and black plastic housing that blows air to the ventilation unit. There is a 10mm screw on the lower right, and a 10mm nut on the lower left. Disconnect the blower motor connector and another connector (brown in color) on the left where air blows. Removing this assembly was by far the biggest pain. Pulling and twisting is a must... as well as cussing a swearing. There was a metal brace on the right side that the glove box mounts to that I ended up having to pull (bend) a tiny bit to get the assembly out, but it didn't cause any reassembly problems later.



    3) You can now see the expansion valve (green arrow in pic). Almost there. Remove 5 screws (red arrows), and 1 clip (blue arrow) to free up a white plastic cover. This white plastic piece has to be removed and is also a pain to deal with (actually, it's more of a pain to re-install).


    4) From under the hood, remove the one 10mm screw securing the AC lines to the expansion valve spacer on the firewall.
    Last edited by leebo; 09-06-2008 at 12:55 PM. Reason: Missing images

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    Registered User leebo's Avatar
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    5) Once the 10mm screw is removed, pull off the two AC lines. Pull the lines out of the way and use a 4mm allen wrench to remove two long screws that go in the middle of the expansion valve spacer.


    6) Return to inside the cabin. Pull the evaporator AC lines from the expansion valve and remove the expansion valve. My spacer stayed in the car when I removed my valve.


    7) Swap out valves and reassemble in reverse order. Get ready to cuss again when putting in the white plastic cover over the expansion valve, and the blower motor housing. I broke two snaps that hold the blower motor housing to the upper white plastic air ducting, but I don't think it will be a problem. It feels pretty secure now with the nut/bolt in place and the other snaps and locating posts that didn't break.
    Last edited by leebo; 09-06-2008 at 12:58 PM. Reason: Missing images

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    Registered User leebo's Avatar
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    Just to follow up, I charged my system today (with help from a friend) and all is good. We pulled a vacuum on the system to reduce the amount of residual air and moisture then recharged it with R134a to get it to blow down to about 45 degrees F. The expansion valve was DEFINITELY the problem. The new valve that I put in looked a little different. There was nothing that looked obviously broken with the old one though. In the attached pic, the old is on the left, the new is on the right.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by leebo; 09-06-2008 at 01:00 PM. Reason: Missing images

  13. #12
    Registered User HRTATAK's Avatar
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    Good job with the photos. I too broke a couple of plastic tabs with the blower motor assembly but it still stays put. I also couldn't get the clip back around the white plastic piece (blue arrow in your photo). My new expansion valve looks the same as your new one (a bit different from the original). Glad I could help a little.

  14. #13
    Registered User subaru_crazy's Avatar
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    Few weeks ago when it was raining out I turned my AC on and nothing happaned, the compressor didn't turn on, so I pushed in the valve on the low side and just a bit of freon came out and that was it. So to me it looked like the system was empty other wise there would be alot of pressure comming out when I pressed the valve open. I added 16 oz of freon and it worked for about a week or so, and then it went dead again. So I went and got a 14oz bottle with die to see where the leak is, and now 3 weeks later its working fine. I have checked with the blue light for any leaks and can't find anything. Good thing you guys posted this becasue it might be the same case with mine, although it bothers me that now if that were the case I should have around 40 oz of freon in the system, which would blow the whole thing to hell, but eveything is fine. The compressor turns on and producess cold air, and I can't find any leaks.
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    Registered User leebo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by subaru_crazy
    ... it bothers me that now if that were the case I should have around 40 oz of freon in the system, which would blow the whole thing to hell, but eveything is fine. The compressor turns on and producess cold air, and I can't find any leaks.
    Yeah, sure sounds like you had a leak somewhere. Some of the refrigerent I've seen in the stores has a leak sealing additive that supposedly works pretty good sometimes (according to a mechanic friend of mine that works on AC's periodically). It could be you plugged it somewhere. If you had the expasion valve failure, you're right... you'd have a bunch of refrigerent in there. However, if you had too much, I bet the compressor would not want to turn and give you all sorts of hell with belt "slippage and squealage". I didn't mention this before, but the first thing I did when my AC didn't cool was to blindly add in some R134a without looking at any gauges. I bet I didn't get much more than about 3 or 4 ounces in there and the compressor locked up like a drum. I quickly shut off the system, bled some off and it started to work again. So, I guess I'm saying that if you shoot too much in there like I did, your compressor would definitely let you know how unhappy it is.

    Hopefully it will stay charged for a long time and not leak out. Intermittent problems are sooooo much fun.

  16. #15
    Registered User Droopy's Avatar
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    leebo and HRTATAK

    Thank you very much for your time.

    You saved me about $500 by giving me the courage to do it myself.

    Everything went as said except I removed the down bar on the right that the glove box screws into. It was in the way of the blower.

    Thanks again.

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