AC Compressor Smoking



I just bought a 96 civic. The seller said he used the ac last year, after they charged it, with no problems. The ac was not cold now. I have the filling cable that only goes on the low pressure side. We turned the car and the ac on. I noticed that he had been driving the car with the ac turned on even though it was not cold. I connected the hose and it read 0 psi. It began to fill and you could tell it took some Freon nicely, maybe an ounce or 2, then, the compressor behaved like it was working real hard, the engine began working hard, the belt squealed for a minute, then stopped, the compressor began to smoke. The smoke was coming from between the compressor housing and the pulley. It smelled like the “I just burnt up my engine smell”, shortly after I began filling the low pressure read in the yellow range of the gauge. It did take some Freon in the normal range. I would like to mention that last summer I had used the pag 100 oil charge which some had been sitting in the fill hose all winter, don’t know if this makes a difference but I thought I should mention it.
Anyway, does anyone know why this happened? I don’t know much about AC but I guess it is time to learn. I think I may need a new compressor, do you agree? Or is there something else that can be done? Is there anything I need to do when I replace the compressor to make sure the problem does not happen again? Any help would be greatly appreciated. It sure is hot down here in the south.


If you had a manifold gauge set which would reflect both the low and the high side pressures, you’ld probably see the high side pressure go thru the roof. Which means the expansion valve isn’t working.



I second Tester.

There’s not enough detail known to be sure of anything but odds are the seller knew this car had a problem and did not want to get into the expense of A/C repair.
If you do replace the compressor you should flush the system thoroughly and change the drier.


I can get my hands on the manifold gauge set, if the high pressure is way up there replace the expansion valve. Do i need to replace the compressor too or will it work.


Ok, so flush, replace expansion valve, Compressor and the dryer. Anything else I should replace whilst i’m doing the job? Thank you all for your help.


Sadly, this story will be repeated thousands of times as DIY car maintainers try to save some money by destroying the A/C systems in their cars…

You can air condition your entire house for what this is going to cost you…


What else should you do?

I say take it to a specialist. This may be the “cash cow” of the automotive world, but the possibility of real people getting real injuries is real. Not knowing how to repair something simple, and learning, is quite different from repairing an A/C system.


One last question i hope someone can answer. Do you think it may be possible for a professional to vacuum out the system, then flush it as a possible repair, or is replacement inevitable?

For the others
I have done a lot of work on cars, just never tried to replace a compressor. I’m SURE I could learn how, to all of you naysayers. If other people can do it, id bet with enough research and knowledge other people can learn too.
I still believe that you can do anything you set your mind to, if you try hard enough and actually put in the time, not just 1 hour or 2 reading about it on the internet.