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A/c total failure - compressor not working

The other day my wife came home and…“oh by the way the a/c in my car has not been working for the last few days…”. So, here I go and start troubleshooting her 1997 Acura CL with about 231K miles on it. I know the car has a slight a/c leak because once a year I add about 5-8 ounces, but because of its age and high mileage I have not worried too much about it to get it professionally fixed. Here is what I found and did so far:

  1. Because last year she was a little low on freon I figured it’s the same problem again. Following directions, I started the engine, turning the a/c on high and pulled the trigger of the can of freon and…nothing happened. No hissing sound or attempt to suck in the freon. The gauge did not indicate any pressure whatsoever. Out of curiosity I quickly depressed the valve stem and nothing came out.
  2. Checked the clutch and noticed that it did not engage. I tried to give it a little push with a long pry bar and nothing happened. I assume the pressure switch prevents the clutch from engaging.
  3. Trying to troubleshoot the clutch mechanism, I temporarily connected the positive terminal to the battery. When activated, the clutch attempts to turn, but never gets completely engaged.
  4. Also noticed that the condenser fan needs to be replaced. It does not start turning when activated, but start spinning when I give it a little push.

Seems, I have 3 problems…low freon, bad clutch or coil and bad condenser fan. Because the car is so old I do not mind working on it myself and attempting to learn as much as possible. I have manifold gauges and vacuum pump. It will be a dog to get easy access to the clutch and I like to do my work only once. Can I assume that it IS the clutch or coil or did I overlook something that points to a bad compressor?

So where do you think the Freon went?? A bad clutch wouldn’t release the gas. A bad compressor might. That small leak may be a big one now.

Hook up a vacuum pump and see if you can draw a vacuum that will hold overnight. If you don’t have one nor a set of gauges, I’d suggest you take it to a pro.

Pulled compressor and replaced clutch assembly. First try did not work because the new coil was bad and I had to wait for a replacement.

Vacuumed the lines and pressure held nicely over 36 hours. Original clutch was completely ruined. Bad bearings, coil was beginning to disintegrate and showing bare wires and the clutch was worn down. I am surprised that thing worked as long as it did.

Replacing the a/c clutch on this Acura CL took me about 3 hours, including evacuating the a/c lines. Wasn’t too bad after all, but I took the easy way and pulled the whole compressor out and replaced the parts on a bench…much easier than trying to do this in a confined space under the hood and at 85 degrees heat.

Also replaced condenser fan and now it’s blowing nicely cold again. Case closed. :slight_smile:

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