A/C Mystery - 2003 Saturn VUE


I have a mystery for everyone - help if you can!

I own a 2003 Saturn VUE (4-Cyl Manual). The A/C works perfectly when the engine is running and at a stand-still. It works perfectly while moving as long as it is less than 20 MPH. Any speeds above 20 and the A/C no longer produces cold air. I have road-tested and found that the RPMs don’t make a difference, but the speed of my car does.

A little background:

I was in a wreck about a year ago (during winter) the first warm day after this wreck is when i noticed this phenomenon). I don’t think it is a refrigerant leak as the A/C has continued to do this for over a year now. I was told by Saturn that I needed a new compressor - but it would cost over $1000 because they quit using the type I have in 2003, so a conversion to the new one would be required. I was told by someone else that it might be vac. related.

Also - during my last service at Saturn they told me my battery would need to be replaced soon as I was not getting a full charge or not enough Amps or something along those lines.

HELP! What is wrong with my car?


The first thing I would do is to hook up some gauges and see what the operating pressures are. That might provide a clue right there.

The next thing I would try to find out is if the compressor is disengaging. If the compressor is disengaging it could be low on freon. It could also be in the control circuit, a defective sensor or switch might be shutting down the compressor.

If the compressor is still engaged when it starts to blow warm air it could be a blend air door problem. If the system uses vacuum to control the doors then I would be looking for a vacuum leak.


I want to add… why are you taking it the dealer? I garantee that if you really need a compressor there is one available aftermarket and it will be less expensive than the dealer.

Why don’t you take it to a independent shop, one that specializes in A/C repair and get a second opinion.


Why don’t you take it to a independent shop, one that specializes in A/C repair and get a second opinion.

Let me second that. Likely they will also know more about the A/C than the dealer as well as being less expensive.


Someone else suggested the vacume door might be the issue - not sure if that is how the VUE works, but I will look into it. Would electrical load cause a problem / issue with the doors / vacume?a

Also - I called the dealership again to ask what exactly they did / found out. They said that they found that something “internal” was wrong with the compressor when a load was applied (i.e. electrical or because the car was moving or something). But they also noted that the battery was not pushing the proper amps when under load as well. Do you think there is a connection? I am taking it by an AC shop tomorrow.


You know as much about AC as I do. You probably do want to get that fully charged battery. I got sick of my 03 Vue and got rid of it last June. I got too jumpy and wasted quite a bit of money. 29 MPG on the highway wasn’t a bad thing though.