So the hotter it gets this year, the more of a crisis I am facing with my weak, not-very-cold ac on my 2001 2.2 5-speed manual Cavalier. I had the original compressor and associated parts replaced after 7.5 years back in September of 2008 and that was the only time anything has ever been done/changed/added, etc…to the whole system. Since it started to get hot - a month or 6 weeks ago - I have been running the AC once a day and it takes a LONG time…usually at least 15 minutes of inside/recirculated air to get cold and this is only at night after dark. I took my first highway drive 2 days ago and in past years when I did that, after having driven about 30 minutes or more on the interstate with the AC running - the evaporator and/or drier would ice up and I’d have to turn it off for a few minutes otherwise the air flow would drop to nothing. Well this time, I took this drive in the afternoon sun with it about 90 degrees outside and even after 1 hour of running constantly, it really barely ever even got cool. I opened up the hood at the end of this trip and the drier was just cool, not cold and nowhere near having any ice.
Now back over this past winter I noticed a compressor oil leak spot on the driveway. That was the signal of the end of my first compressor so I was afraid that the compressor would be dead when I tried it this year.
The leak is from the bottom of the compressor - from the plug there, which apparently is the “control valve”. Does anyone have any experience with the o-rings on that thing leaking and/or replacing the control valve to fix the problem? Based on my research, that would be the thing to try but I am having a hard time finding anything about the procedure or anyone who’s done it. I’ve been using the system for 6 weeks and the compressor is working fine, so is the clutch and no troubling sounds or any signs of a problem - other than the cool (not cold) air. I have been afraid to add r134a because my thinking was that it might blow the apparently small leak (where the oil dripped out the bottom of the compressor) wide open from the higher pressure and then I’d be in a lot worse situation that I cannot afford to have fixed. So I have just been dealing with the situation of having to run the system for a long time to get it cold. But that isn’t going to work much longer as temps near 100 over the next month.
Here is my question. Since there has been no refrigerant added to the system since September of 2008 (8.5 years ago) - is it to be expected / normal that I just need to add some now to fix the problem … OR…are my fears of what I described legit - that adding any pressure to a system that has this leak will just blow it open and I’ll lose what I have now?
Thanks for your thoughts/advice. Oh, and I can’t afford to take it to a shop so save that suggestion for someone who isn’t as poor as I am (which is just about everyone).