A/C stopped working!

I have an '88 Civic Wagovan, and last year I had the A/C switched over from the “old sytem” to the “new system”. It worked great and blew cold air all summer. This year though, when I’ve tried to use it, it blows nothing but warm air (even with the A/C switch off and just the fan on it still only blows warm air). I don’t hear or feel the compressor coming on when I turn the A/C switch on. My question is: what is the first step, and what am I likely looking at in terms of replacement parts and complication?

Thanks in advance,


The A/C will not warm the air, all it can do is nothing or cool it. Maybe the A/C is OK and there is a problem with the heat staying on when it should not.

My suggestion is to take it back to whoever updated the A/C last year and have them take a look at it. They can do the test (like measuring pressure in the system) and look and listen where we can not. You may get lucky and it may be a cheap fix. I kind of expect it will not be too bad, but it is not really possible to tell from here.

If your refrigerant leaked out then what you are describing would happen. Have the garage that did the conversion look at it and leak test it if necessary.

If the compressor isn’t kicking on then you probably have a refrigerant charge that is too low for it to run. A/C is designed to disable the compressor when the pressure is low.

Not trying to insult your intelligence but is the temperature selector all the way in the “blue” range ?

If so take it back to the shop where it was worked on. They will most likely test the compressor by jump starting it manually and see if it runs. They will then charge the system with dye to detect leaks. If your compressor isn’t seized ($$$$) then you just have a leaking system and it may not even be worth fixing in a car this old if you can get a whole summer out of 1 a/c charge.

Oh yeah, make sure you run the a/c every now and then even during the off-season. This will keep the o-rings/seals and gaskets inside the compressor lubricated so you will be ready to rock when summer time rolls around. Hope this helps.

When they did the conversion did they put any UV dye into the refrigerant? Last year I had my '89 Accord switched over to the new coolant and they mixed in some UV dye and had me bring it back after a couple of weeks of use so they could look at it under a black light to see if there were any leaks. If you didn’t do this then it might just be a leak that needs to be fixed. That could be cheap or expensive purely depending on where it is leaking.

Probably just needs a recharge. I’m assuming they yanked the compressor to drain it during conversion from R12 to (probably) R134a and replaced the drier, but did they replace the system ‘O’ rings ? These can get upset by the lubricant change for the upgraded refrigerant, added to which R134 runs at a slightly higher pressure. This can get past worn compressor seals.

Your A/C system will have a high & low pressure switch, you can bypass these to check that the compressor fires up, but only do this for a few seconds. I have a 73 car that I converted a couple of years ago, the system works fine but does need an annual top up, though I’m only talking about a couple of oz’s. Leak tests kits are cheap enough if you feel capable.

On a final note, if you are not sure what you are doing, take it to a specialist, refrigerants are ozone hostile and can cause permanent blindness.