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2002 Sienna a/c compressor seals, big savings at compressor shop

The last few months in Mexico, my 2002 Sienna with over 200,000 miles on it, once in a great while would stop cooling, and the button on the dash for a/c would start blinking instead of a steady green light. I assumed the gas was getting low as it did at around 100,000 miles. If I turned it off for 5 minutes, it would start working.

When I came back to McAllen, my SIL told me of a place that worked on a/c much cheaper in some cases. To find it, one goes to Pecan in McA. which is also highway 495, then drives west to the end of highway 495, and turn right for about one block.

It is a compressor shop and there are numbers of large semi truck tractors parked in front for compressor repairs.

Manuel, who speaks virtually no English, looked at it with an ultraviolet flashlight and announced the compressor seals were leaking. He said it would take around three hours to remove the compressor, replace the seals which he had in stock, reinstall it, pump it down and fill it with gas.

It actually took three hours, but I had a book to read, so no sweat.

Total cost $185. With a full one year guarantee on their work. He said the cost of seals was trivial; the job was mostly labor.

I am nearly 1400 miles north of McAllen visiting for the last time family and friends. A/c works perfectly.

I am curious. Would most shops install another compressor instead of replacing the seals? Closer to $1000 I suppose. I had this thought right away, and knew exactly where to ask, heh, heh.

I assume the trucks have compressors not only for the a/c, but also for the brakes. So, there must be compressor shops all over the country.

I don’t know if they do other work on a/c or just compressors. But that savings was significant. I bring it to your attention as an alternative to investigate. I’d like to know more. My SIL when he told me about it also mentioned that a friend also paid like $200 instead of the $800 estimate at a regular shop. So, that also sounded as if it were also to replace seals instead of replace the compressor.

Sometimes a compressor shaft seal kit may not cure all of the compressor problems or they may not hold up over the long run. Compressors can develop body leaks and shafts may have miniscule wear grooves or pitting which means that over time they may start leaking much sooner; or very soon.

There’s also the issue of high miles compressors which may be on shaky ground. Seal leakage means refrigerant oil loss and the mechanic may have no idea what shape that compressor is in internally due to low oil.
There’s the fear of installing a seal kit on a high miles compressor and the unit disetengrating a month later with many customers then having a tendency to blame the mechanic for a poor job.

In some cases, seal kits are not even available.

For the price I think you got a deal and a half; especially with a guarantee and a cold A/C which is a necessity in that part of Texas. Nice job… :slight_smile:

Okay, thanks, OK. I believe it wasn’t extremely low on gas, still working. And, with his experience he would have known that, I think.

He did show me the compressor as he walked by me into the place where he was going to replace the seals. He turned it and showed it produced pressure with little effort.

My interpretation of his guarantee is that he did not guarantee the compressor, only the seals. He worded it very carefully, and it was obvious to me what he meant.


Even if the compressor lasts only 1 year and a day, you still got off cheaply, and you had a long time to plan for a new compressor . . . or not

Considering most places would charge over $100 just to evacuate and recharge an A/C system, that’s a really good deal.

Did they recapture the refrigerant removed from your system?

Wow! Oblivion, I didn’t know that. Thanks for the information.

Thank government regulations due to environmental concerns for the huge jump in A/C service prices. Back at the time just before R-12 sales were banned to the general public most A/C inspection and top-off services ran about 15-20 bucks around here.
After 134 arrived along with a handful of regulations that same service jumped immediately to 75 and up; and that was quite a few years ago.

How do you know you are visiting family for the last time?

Because I am not coming back. I have driven 300,000 miles since I retired. I could still do it, but I don’t want to any more. I have told everyone this is my last visit. Anyone who wants to visit can come visit us in Mexico. It is the same distance both ways.

There is an international airport 2 hours from my home, and we will pick them up and return them when it is time to leave. I will transport them in my nearly new 2002 Sienna, which has a mere 209,000 miles on it.

Our house has room for 12 to sleep in comfort. Four bathrooms including a so-called Jacuzzi. Two water heaters. Telephone. Internet faster than Earthlink in McAllen. Fireplace. Refrigerator; microwave; stainless steel double sink; automatic washing machine, roof clotheslines, and you can see Popo in the distance.

And, heh, heh, some of the most beautiful high school girls in the world walk past my house every afternoon. But, I don’t look. Really I don’t. I swear…

I own fossils which would cost your local university thousands in export permits, one quarry owner said perhaps $20,000. I can own them, but it is a felony to take them to the States. So, I don’t.

There is some evidence that the house next door, now ruins, was there before Cortes entered Mexico. One of the doors of that house, several centuries newer than the house itself, is now installed in my house after the 1999 earthquake.

One of my wife’s friends told us yesterday that she once drove the 3,000 miles to McAllen and back and it was boring, boring, boring. I told her multiply that by one hundred times and you have what I have done. She laughed. I didn’t.

Also, I am very happy in my home in Mexico. I call it my personal paradise. I am in the central Midwest for my last visit, and I am extremely homesick for Mexico right now.

I once enjoyed the long trips. That was like 200,000 miles ago. And, I am now 72 years old. Too old to be homesick, but I am.


Sounds like you’ve got everything set up just right

What more could anybody want?

By the way, are you dual citizen?

The reason I ask . . . some years ago, I heard that only Mexican nationals are allowed to own property in Mexico. Or maybe that was only certain parts of the country? I also heard that a lot of US citizens permanently reside in Mexico, but they don’t actually own the land, but instead it’s some kind of long term lease.

It’s called “pachten” in German, but I don’t know what it’s called in english

I lived in Mission, TX as a kid and we went into old Mexico all the time along with going fishing in the Rio Grande, Falcon Lake, Port Isabel, and so on.
Some of old Mexico was pretty fascinating to me even though I was pretty much a clueless kid at the time. North of McAllen is some godawful boring countryside though so I can’t say as I blame you for having enough of it.

Sounds like you’re in a sweet situation and the thing about the door is fantastic.

To keep this car related, my much older second cousin used to hot wire his dad’s Studebaker and haul a load of friends into Reynosa on the weekends to get tanked up… :wink:

@Irlandes; it sounds like you have a pretty nice place there and I get the impression that you are pretty happy with the choice.
My daughter has been to Mexico city …visiting friends a few times. She really liked it and she speaks really good Spanish, so at least she can communicate well.

Did you ever run into the garbage truck guys and get their truck fixed. You know the guy’s I was teasing you about, leaving them stranded waiting for you to return with the parts.


The garbage truck is owned by the city, and the city won’t fix it.

Foreigners can own property in Mexico, except along the ocean and at the border. But, before you get your name on it, you have to go to the federal offices and sign an agreement that any conflict must be settled in Mexican courts.

I think the name is something like fidecomisco, which means the bank owns the property in trust for you, a trick to get around the prohibition. But, that may no longer be allowed.

No, I am not a dual citizen. Yet. The immigration law was dramatically changed a year or two ago. The old FM-3 etc. no longer exist. I have a family unity residence based on my wife’s citizenship. Being an illegal in Mexico is no longer a crime, but a civil offense with a financial penalty, not jail. The legislator admitted the US was correct when it responded to criticism for our treatment of illegals by pointing out Mexico treated its illegals much worse than we did.

You can still import your car temporarily on my residency, but they told me I must go to permanent residence in two years, then to citizenship. When I go to permanent residence, my temporarily imported car becomes illegal, so by that time it must be permanently imported.

Next year, I plan to legally and permanently import my 2002 Sienna. You can now import a car from around 8 years old to 26 years old with temporary or permanent residence. It becomes a Mexican car.

In the US, my 2002 is virtually worthless, what with 209,000 miles. In Mexico, people ask me to sell it to them. If I can get parts for it, and it doesn’t get crumpled into a ball, that Toyota may well last a long time. My niece had a 1976 VW Beetle, fixed up good as new at one time. And, a cousin drives a 1976 Chev. pickup for all sorts of very heavy work.

Mobil-1 costs around $28 for a five quart container in McAllen, even EP. In Mexico, it is well over $65. The oil filter, by memory now, is the same as used on my previous 1989 Dodge Caravan, though I use Toyota filters.

It is hard to find tires for my 2002 Sienna. You need to go into a big city, then accept a modest quality tire instead of my Yokohamas.

I was losing around one tire a year, until they paved the hill to my driveway, and now no more problems, which obviously led me to believe there was a lot of junk in the dirt on that street.

However, though it is hard to import a car into Mexico, they let Mexican cars into the USA, with proof of insurance. At this time, $300,000 liability for 30 days costs $100 USD, no collision or comprehensive available as far as I can tell. So, I can drive the car into McAllen once it is nationalized in Mexico.

But, if I choose to drive beyond McAllen, I will rent a car. I have been stopped and harassed illegally with a Texas car, the Sienna, (illegal stops in both Mississippi and Ohio, 2007 and 2009,) and would not think of driving a Mexican licensed car into the interior. The Bandits in Blue would be on my case in every jurisdiction.