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.

I think I Would just get a new compressor and put it on and you can vacuum the system yourself get you a set of manifold gauges and you can get them from harbor freight for about 60 bucks and you can also get the pump from harbor freight for 90 or you can rent it from autozone for 155 just hook up the pump and gauges and let it vacuum it a hour or so and then close the two valves on the gauges not the one on the hoses and let sit about 45 min to check for any leak down should read the same as when you turned off the pump if that’s good then time to add compressor oil (Some compressor come preoiled.) Then recharge system with Freon check and see how many oz your vehicle calls for

Betting that this problem has been solved one way or another after the passage of 9 years.


Then you need a vacuum pump to evacuate the system, prior to refill. I highly recommend you have all this done at a professional A/C shop. A/C work is not DIY friendly. You need lots of equipment and a fair amount of specialized knowledge.

Thread started in June 2011 .

In all fairness, it could be said that it’s easy to overlook the date stamp. One gets absorbed reads the title, goes to the text on the problem while already thinking about it and the faint date stamp on the upper right would be easy to overlook.

Maybe larger text in red would help.