1997 Chevy Cavalier air conditioner

Hello -

I just moved from Seattle to Phoenix at the end of January. The A/C in my 97 Cavalier had been working fine for defrosting in Seattle, but shortly after I moved to Phoenix I started having A/C problems. At first, it was still working fine, but then I heard a loud "Whooo"ing sound when I ran it. A few times after that, I still had the sound, but the AC didn’t cool down for a long time (about 20 min, by which time I got home). I didn’t run it again until my father came to visit, at which time there was no sound, and no cooling. He thought either the compressor was shot or there was a leak. I took it to a local mechanic with good reviews and a good BBB record. He said he saw signs of a leak and refilled it, including a dye, to help find where the leak was. But, he says that if there is a leak, I’ll probably have to replace the whole compressor and he won’t be able to just fix the leak. Is this legit? I’ve been reading some things which suggest that leaks in Cavaliers can be more than just a simple o-ring problem, but my father didn’t think a simple leak would be a big deal (then again, he’s not kept up with cars since the 80s). I’d appreciate any thoughts or advice. Thanks.

If the compressor is leaking, most general mechanics will simply replace it with a rebuilt unit. A dedicated automotive A/C shop may do their own rebuilding, it may ending up costing the same.