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A/C repair for 2002 Kia Sedona

I turned on my a/c recently and all that came out was hot air. Usually when the a/c comes on, I hear it engage with a loud "thump and rattle" but no more. I thought I could live with out the a/c but then I noticed that my temperature gauge was a bit higher than normal. Not overheating or in the danger zone, just running a bit hotter than usual. So I checked the coolant and it was a bit low so I topped it off. Still no a/c and still a hotter engine.

I decided to take my car to a well known national chain service center and have them check it out. They did the diagnostic stuff with the dye etc and I was told I had leaks in the system, but they didn't indicate if they were small, large or where they were. They did recharge the coolant and said the air was cold but didn't know how long it would last. Finally, I was told I needed to replace the entire a/c system and that would cost $2,000. Now, anyone who owns a Kia knows it's worth about $50 no matter what the age so that repair wasn't going to be authorized. So I said I could live w/o the a/c (I lied) but was concerned about the hotter than normal engine. I asked them to check the temperature after it idled for a bit (I did do some research before taking my car in) and it was within a "normal" range. They told me they tested the engine cooling fan independent of the a/c system and it worked. I asked if it could be the thermostat or a temperature sensor that was preventing the fan from switching on. They balked at the notion. They said Kia developed the system to be interdependent so in order to have the engine cooling fan work I have to replace the whole a/c system. So, back to spending $2,000.

I asked them if I could continue to drive the car in it's current condition and they said yes. I asked about overheating the engine and they said it's possible so I needed to be careful. So I left and promptly tested the a/c. It wasn't cold. Which leads me to the question: doesn't the engine cooling fan need to be operational in order for the a/c to work?? I can live w/o a/c (I'm still lying) but I don't feel comfortable with the hot engine and the lack of a cooling fan. They seemed to be fed up with my inquisitiveness but I'm not satisfied with their explanation. I think more investigative work needs to be done but I'm not sure where to start. And I can probably live w/o the a/c if it's going to cost me two grand. And I'm not lying.

Can anyone help me figure this out??



There should be two fans (I’m sure your Kia has electric fans). That, or the fans run at two speeds. When your motor gets hot, sitting still, do the fans turn on? If they do, then at least that is normal. The A/C should turn on the other fan, or turn them to maximum.

The fans that cool the engine don’t keep it dead center on the gauge. It will be a bit on the high side, but not in the red. When driving at speed (pretty much anything over 25), it should be normal in temp.

The A/C will also fail to engage if the R134 is too low. The pump won’t turn on.

My best suggestion is to get to a real A/C guy. The chains will only want to replace the system. That’s where their money is. Your local mechanic who specializes in A/C makes his money by doing a good job, and you tell all your friends and co-workers. He may find something simple he can replace and your system will be fine.

You can drive it, if the fans come on as described above.

You said “a bit low”…how much is a bit? Are we talking like a cup or two, or a half gallon or more?

Above all, you car needs regular service. Keep up with that, follow the schedule in your handbook, and you should be OK.


The radiator cooling fan must run in order for the A/C to cool. The A/C condenser coil is in front of the radiator, and air flow must be maintained through the coil in order for the A/C to work properly.

HOWEVER, if your going faster than 20 mph, the air coming in through the grille is more than sufficient to keep the condenser coil and radiator cool. The fans are there to keep things cool at stops and stop-n-go traffic. If your van is staying too warm even on the highway, your problem is not the fans. If it has been a while, or you’ve never done it, you may need a cooling system flush-n-fill, with a new thermostat and radiator cap. A neglected cooling system can lead to problems like this.

Also, if the refrigerant level is now low, you have a leak. If the A/C stopped working within a day, you have a big leak.

Thank you for the advice and the speedy posts. To answer your questions, no, the engine cooling fan does not come on at all, under any driving conditions or while idling. That's why I'm concerned about the overheating scenario. I live in the deep south and we've got temperatures in the 90s already and without an operational cooling fan, I'm concerned. I was told the a/c compressor is electrically connected to the engine cooling fan and if the a/c compressor is toast, the engine cooling fan won't work. That doesn't make sense to me. I thought the engine temperature triggered the cooling fan, not an a/c compressor. But I'm not a mechanic.

As to the R134, they didn't tell me what the level was before they recharged it. But the leak has to be a gusher if I didn't have cold air w/i three hours of the recharge.

To fill the coolant reservoir was about 1/4 of a gallon jug or less. It was no where near empty. I have had the experience of an empty radiator with the temperature gauge going nuts and the fan constantly running to keep the engine cool. That was well over a year ago and it's been fine since then. I learned my lesson :)

I'll try and find a reputable local mechanic to help sort this out. As a woman, I'm always on guard about being taken to the cleaners by repair shops so I always try to come in with some knowledge beforehand.

There could very well be little to nothing wrong with the A/C. If the fans won’t come on at all, then the A/C system may be basically just refusing to power on.

Look in your fuse panel for fuses marked for the fans. They should be in the panel under the hood, not inside the car. Then check the relays (square plastic things) that control the fans. When you find one, look for another that runs something you don’t need right now, like the rear window defroster. If the codes on the back match, you can swap them. That will allow you to check the relays without purchasing new ones.

If the fuse and/or relays fix the fan problem, then that’s step 1. It may also fix the A/C, since the power will then allow the system to work. Maybe not, but 1 step at a time…my motto, anyway. I’m not Dr. House. :slight_smile: But, if two or more things stop at the same time, it’s normally connected.

Give it a shot. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.


Okay, I started the car and turned on the a/c. Checked the fan and it was not working. Then I swapped fuses as you suggested (I used the horn fuse). It was interesting that the fan fuse was light blue and had no codes on it. The rest of the fuses were all uniform and labeled. Go figure. Anyway, restarted the car, turned on the a/c and the fan came on. But the air was warm. So that's disappointing.

I checked the coolant level and it was about an inch lower than yesterday's top off so I will keep watch on that. I ran the car for about 15 minutes to watch the temperature gauge and it never exceeded where it's been routinely hovering (between the the 1/2 and 3/4 mark on the gauge) for the past two weeks. So I still don't know if the fan will engage if the engine runs too hot. I guess the next step would be a thermostat or temperature sensor check if I'm still seeing problems with the coolant level dropping? Or maybe there's a leak somewhere?

At least I have a better understanding of how the a/c system works and I was able to see the individual components this morning when I checked the fuse box. Knowledge is power!

Thanks for all the great info and suggestions! It made a difference :)

If you're losing coolant, then you have a leak somewhere. If it were my car, I'd make that the priority, and work on the A/C second.

Double check the fuses. Having one that's different only means that it's blown before. While it may not have been a problem, it may also indicate something's wrong. So now you know you need to get some spare fuses, if you don't have any. They will sell a box with various ratings in it. That might be a good one for ou, since you most likely won't ever need a full box of each rating. You always want to check the layout sheet (on the inside cover of the box), and make sure you use the correct rating fuse to replace a blown one. You don't want to run a 30A fuse in a 20A socket because it's designed to protect the equipment.

If it blows the fuse again, then there's either something wrong with the wiring, or the fan itself.

Next you can check into the A/C. That's the relay swap I mentioned above.


Hi Chase,

I was so bothered by what happened yesterday I went and spoke to the manager at the service center this afternoon (he was not there yesterday). He brought over the mechanic that worked on the car to talk with me. The mechanic told me that I was completely out of refrigerant and they boosted the system in order to check and see if the compressor would engage. It didn't. He said it was leaking and the compressor clutch was bad. He did say that the engine fan was not working prior to the boost and that was related to the compressor's lack of coolant. Once boosted, he said the fan did engage. He said I would have to leave the car for a couple of days to see if the thermostat or temp sensors were bad and were causing the increase on my temp gauge. He told me I was safe to drive the car I would just be very hot all summer.

Does all that sound kosher to you??

They both apologized for the pin head who talked to me yesterday and confirmed that he did a horrible job of explaining the problem and the repair and that he was totally wrong in saying I would have a/c, even for a short time. No compressor=No a/c.

I will get a box of fuses, to be safe, and a bottle of coolant to keep in the car. And maintain it as necessary and be vigilant. Unless you can recommend anything further for me to do? I'm open to suggestions.



It mostly sounds kosher. I wonder why they didn’t check the fuses, since apparently you just changed one, and the fans are working again. As you found out, that fans are connected to the A/C as BustedKnuckles explained above. You now do have some level of knowledge with regards to the system, so that’s a bonus.

Be sure and get a fuse in for that horn. It’s a safety device (at least a warning device), and you may need to get someones attention. If your state has inspections, they’re required.

I would still recommend finding an A/C specialist in the area. A local independent mechanic. Sure, he’s in it to make money, too, but he’s (almost assuredly) more experienced, and will serve you better than that chain. Ask your fiends, co-workers, kids friends parents, whomever, if they know of anyone around, and what they think of them. You can also see if Angie’s List has anyone out there for you. There’s a section on this site that has a list, however, any negative comments are removed, so I only recommend that with hesitancy, but it does exist.

I’m not an A/C specialist myself, I just have a pretty good overview of what does what, and to some degree how things are connected. Unfortunately, solving the problem from a keyboard is very difficult. Even if I had the car in my garage, I doubt I can fix it, if there’s a genuine A/C problem. A specialist will be able to tell you in short order, and exactly what you need to fix it. Most likely diagnose it all with a minor charge, which he may then roll into the repair, if you choose to do it.

I’m in the South, too, and we busted 100 over the last few days, so I’m quite familiar with the nasty heat. I’ll try and answer whatever questions you have, regardless.


Edit: Is the temperature more normal now with the fans working??


I have a 2002 kia sadona,we replaced our air cond unit 3 years ago cost 1700.00 now the air is blowing hot we have put 2 air compressures in withen 2 years the air will blow cold air for about 3 hours and then back to hot air blowing.the macanic said he checked for leaks after putting the the compressure on and found none he said the van is good to go. what is going on here...PLEASE HELP ME GETTING EXSPENSIVE!!! THE FAN IS BLOWING OUT hot AIR AGAIN.

Has the air mix/blend door been checked? If it is stuck you will get heat instead of cool. Is the compressor engaging when you turn on the air to max? If not it could be low refrigerant or just a bad fuse.