2002 Honda CRV AC Compressor Plate Fell Off

While driving my 2002 Honda CRV (155000 miles) to work yesterday, I noticed the AC was working intermittently. Soon enough, I heard a loud clunk under the car and noticed a part had fallen into the street. I circled back and picked it up. After a bit of research I figured out it was the AC Compressor clutch plate. After doing more research I noticed that early Honda CRVs are known for having AC problems - and mine is not the first clutch plate to have fallen off.

My questions are as follows:

Is there any harm in (trying) to reinstall the clutch plate?

Does the fact that my clutch plate fell off mean something else is wrong (e.g., the compress has frozen up)?

If the compressor is bad does ‘black death’ always occur?

Finally, if I am going to replace the compressor. Do you recommend I just get an AC kit (compressor, condenser, drier, etc.)

I know this isn’t an easy repair, but I think I can handle it with my father’s help. That old fart can fix anything!

Thanks for any advice!

With no disrespect to your dad, I would go to specialized A/C shop and see if they can reattach it. I have my doubts, but the shop would know what parts need to be replaced. Don’t go to a dealer for this; they will rebuild the whole system. A general repair shop will also be out of its depth.

It’s impossible to say with any certainty without actually seeing the failure but odds are you will need a new compressor and the associated parts that go along with it. Twelve years of age, 155k miles, and a clutch coming apart will pretty much rule out any patchwork; even if it were possible.

You’re probably going to need an entire kit to fix this. The service bulletin on Hondas addresses clutch slippage problems; not outright failures. An outright failure in this case probably means a broken compressor shaft.

If this is going to be a DIY job I would advise that extreme caution be used when dealing with refrigerant. It only takes a second or two to suffer frostbite, lung damage, or blindness if refrigerant makes contact with body parts.
You might consider just farming the evacuation and recharging process out to a shop and hope that if you DIY that you have not allowed any system leaks to exist.

I agree that repair is unlikely. Parts don’t just fall off and get put back on again. Chances are the compressor shaft that the clutch attaches to is damaged. If not, the clutch itself surely is from the impact.

Use new parts, not new or rebuilt. Get a new compressor and receiver/drier. When you get the old compressor out if it shows any signs of internal failure you’ll need an expansion valve and system flush. That may be more than you can do at home. If the compressor is clean I’d pass on the exp valve.

As stated above, R134 is under high pressure.

Thanks for the feedback! BTW, I took my CRV to my dad’s this morning and after a brief inspecting it’s clear the compressor shaft is gone so there’s nothing to slide the plate back onto. I assume this means the compressor locked up and, now that I think about it, I did hear the belts squeal a bit before the plate fell off - which problem means the compressor seized up.

I am thinking about doing the repairs myself, but I will leave the AC evacuation/recharge to a professional. A local shop quoted me $132 to do that - which seems reasonable.

My only dilemma now is whether I should just replace the compressor (about $250) or get a kit (about $650), which includes the condenser, drier, etc.

Deciding on whether to pay the extra $400 for the kit is my dilemma. I wouldn’t be so worried, but I’ve read multiple stories about people replacing the AC system in their CRV for the 5th time! I don’t want to spend an extra $400 if I’m going have to replace everything again down the road. My logic is, just do the minimum necessary and if the whole thing craps out later on then I won’t feel so bad. If I pay the extra $400 and it craps out again I will be pissed!

Spoke too soon, Just found an entire kit for $375!!! I know it’s not OEM, but for the cost, I think it’s better to replace everything instead of just the compressor.

I just replaced the compressor on my Explorer, and the parts store let me know the 2-year warranty can be voided if the drier and orifice tube or expansion valve is not replaced at the same time. I purchased the kit.


Since your compressor literally came apart, you also NEED TO:

Flush the lines and hoses
Install an inline filter or screen to prevent any remaining debris from entering the new compressor and ruining it in short order. I’m going to venture a gues that those guys that had to replace the compressor 5 times did NOT flush the lines OR install a filter

The filter gets installed on the suction side

All this stuff is IN ADDITION to that receiver-drier and the condenser

Since you had a catastrophic failure, I would evacuate for an especially long time, at least 30 minutes.

i had the same thing happen on my '99 crv last fall as AC season ended, finally had to tackle it a month ago. i bought a junkyard compressor for around 35 bucks and had it waiting on my bench. with all the warnings about shards of metal blowing through the system i was definitely worried about how much flushing to do. so i took the old compressor out and disassembled it and what i discovered was a large piece of the spiral compressor vane had broken off and jammed up the works. a couple of smaller pieces but truly no little filings and crap that could have blown through the system, plus it clearly stopped instantly without pumping stuff through the condenser. just to be on the safe side i installed a suction inlet screen, and of course replaced the accumulator. two cans of freon later i have AC. total cost around $100 but i got lucky to find the used compressor. i don’t know if the failure mode on mine is similar to the failures on the second generation CRV’s. i also had an old vacuum pump i was able to modify to fit the C134 fittings on my gauges so i was well equipped, just never had actually opened an AC system before. good luck!


The most important thing you did was installing the suction inlet screen

Congratulations on an economical repair!

I’m with db4690. I’m not a mechanic but have had a few compressors replaced in my time and you absolutely need to flush the system clean plus replace all the other parts mentioned. Its not cheap but that’s just what needs to be done or you are throwing money away and will be doing the job again. I can’t really comment on the non OEM but just make sure it is quality products.