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Ball Joints and Charging A/C Questions

I have a 1999 Honda Civic with 172,000 miles on it.

It has been mostly sitting in a parking lot for the past year. I got home every 2 - 3 months and drove it for a few days to a week, then let it sit again.

  1. When I got back last month, the a/c was gone. (It had been getting worse over the last few years, but it still worked well last summer, just was slower to cool the car.) After driving it for a few weeks and keeping it on for the airflow, it started blowing a little cold air, but not enough to cool the car in 95 - 100 degree heat. I had it checked at two places, and both say I need a new compressor. I’m told it has a hole, a leak. Someone told me that if the a/c works at all, you can recharge (if I have the right word) it and the a/c will work again, at least for a while. I’m planning to get a new car by October, so I don’t want to pay $800 for a new compressor for a 12+ year old car. The repair place says charging it could work for a day or for a while. All I really need is 2-3 months. I doubt the hole just got there - surely it was developing for a while. Anyone know what my chances are of making do with a charge or recharge for 2 or 3 months?

Inspection is due this month. Since small, gas-efficient cars are scarce right now, I figured I could have it inspected and it would be cheaper to pay for minor repairs than to rent a car for a few months until I can buy a new one. Which leads me to …

  1. They tell me my ball joints are shot. Now when I had it inspected (elsewhere) last year, they said nothing needed fixing. I asked if anything looked like it might need fixing or replacing down the line, and they said no. Again, the car has barely been driven this year, less than 5,000 miles and probably less than 1,000 miles. So I’m wondering how ball joints could go from “fine” to “shot” in a year? Any thoughts?

Siena, my best guess is that the a/c’s a crapshoot. You can take a chance & have it charged, or bear with it & drive with the windows down. I prefer windows down, because when I’m driving down the road shouting obscenities at the other drivers, how are they going to hear me if my windows are up? (Just kidding).
As for the ball joints; Did you take it to the same place as last year for inspection? If you feel they might be trying to cheat you, take it to somebody you trust for a 2nd opinion. With 172,000 miles on it, unless the ball joints were changed previously, it sounds like they could really be bad. Also, they might’ve been bad last year, but nobody caught it.

Thanks, Cherokeeboogieman. The ball joints have never been changed before. I looked up what they do and I can see the need for having them replaced.

No this isn’t the same place that inspected it last year. That place is hours away and hard to get an appt. with. This late in the month, I wouldn’t be able to. The place that inspected it the other day is actually a second opinion on the a/c. I can’t keep paying for opinions - car’s really too old to sink money into, but I want to take my time choosing a new car.

Driving with my windows down has been horrible. LOL, having my obscenities heard is an advantage, though! It doesn’t outweigh the heatstroke I get almost daily or wind-hair.

Another advantage to my buzz-cut. I haven’t had a bad hair day in 20 yrs. or so.

Take it back to the place that passed it last year and they will probably pass it this year…Or have any repair shop check the ball joints for wear and SHOW THEM TO YOU so YOU can decide how bad they are…

As for the A/C, if there is ANY freon in the system, then the leak can’t be that bad that it won’t hold a charge for a month or two…It will take about $45 worth of R-134a to find out if you do it yourself. If you pay to have it done, $100-$150 to blow some gas in for you…This might work for the rest of the season or it might be money down the drain…

The ball joints may be bad…but then again they may not be…Places like NTW or Midas seem to find bad ball-joints 5-10 times more often then other places.

Find another mechanic to look at the ball joints. Maybe one who specializes in suspension.