Been to same shop 3 times for same problem, not sure what to do

Hi, sorry for signing up only to ask for help, but I’m not really sure where else to go to.

I have a 2006 PT Cruiser ( I know it’s not a good car ) and was having problems with the A/C blowing hot air and it stalling. I recharged it myself and replaced the low pressure sensor hoping it would be something small, but that didn’t help it. I took it to a mechanic and they told me it was the alternator that needed to be replaced. I did and it cost a decent amount. I got the car back and the a/c was still blowing warm and the car would still die on me. I took it back and they said the ac condenser needed to be replaced. It cost around $700 and they replaced it and when I got my car back again the a/c blew cold for about a day and then just kept blowing warm air and the car is still dying on me. I took it back and they said it needs a new evaporator core and it’ll cost just under a $800 to get it replaced.

Is this right at all? It seems like they’re just making stuff up and don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve been honest with me years before and pretty fair about prices, not charging for stuff I don’t need, but this feels like they’re guessing or just taking me for a ride. The car isn’t worth that much, but honestly I wouldn’t be able to resell it without getting the A/C fixed.

I printed out their estimate and was thinking about going to a different mechanic to see if they could diagnosis it and maybe it would be something else or offer a better price, but I don’t know if that’s okay to do.

Any advice would be appreciated.

It sounds like you have two separate issues or are you saying they are related with the car stalling or something when you turn the air on?

  1. Stalling problem: Could have been related to the battery not being charged by a bad alternator so that when the voltage gets too low the car stalls. Is this still happening? Was the battery tested?

  2. HVAC problem: If you are getting warm air, either you have too low a refrigerant level due to a leak or the compressor is not operating. You don’t guess where the leak is but an AC shop would use test equipment to determine where the leak is and not just replace parts guessing. So go to a good AC shop, not this place.


To Bing’s comment on the HVAC problem, I would simply go to the shop and ask them how they’re diagnosing the issue. If they don’t immediately mention some method of leak detection, then I would get a bit more confrontational (e.g., “Well, how do you know these parts are bad if they’re not being tested for leaks?”).

Did you ask for the old parts back? I always do this, unless there’s a core or something that they must return to the manufacturer. If they claim that they checked for leaks and you have the old parts, you could check for the presence of UV dye on the connections to see if they were in fact leaking.

thanks for replying. The battery was new and replaced a few weeks before I got the new alternator. It’s been dying on and off for the past few weeks. It starts up fine, but at lights and sometimes when I’m stuck in truck it will die and I’ll have to restart it.

The a/c did blow cold air when I was going faster on the highway, but anytime I’m at lights below that it’s just warm air.

I didn’t ask for the parts back, I don’t know much about cars so I don’t know what I would be able to check. They did give me back the “bad” alternator so I still have that but I don’t know what good it will do.

Just for a test, disconnect the wire to the AC compressor clutch. See if that solves your stalling issue.


Like I said, two separate problems. Two separate solutions. Don’t confuse them or give them opportunity for shot gunning by providing multiple problems to solve. I’d go to a different shop though, these guys seem incompetent. Stalling could be related to dirty or failed idle air control or just tune up issues. Sounds like you need a recharge on the AC with a check on where the leak is. Typical symptom of low refrigerant is warm at low rpm and cooler at high rpm, but AC repair is not for novices.

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I agree with @bing

This shop is in over its head

I’m wondering if all those parts really needed to be replaced . . .

Take the car elsewhere

I’m in agreement with db4690 My first thought was whether or not multile A/C system parts needed to be replaced.

The only reason to replace a condenser or evaporator is if they’re leaking. That’s easy enough to determine.
Most A/C system leaks occur with the compressor seals and to a lesser extent the service valve ports.

To make a guess on the A/C one would really need to know if the compressor is engaging and both high and low system pressures at elevated RPMs.

I just checked the refrigerant level and it’s fully charged. Wouldn’t a leak mean it’d be on empty?

That’s what you’re supposed to do. No worries. :wink:

I’m immediately suspicious of any mechanic that looks at a car which starts fine, but then stalls, and blows hot air from the air conditioner, and determines that the part which does nothing but charge the battery is the cause of both problems.

If that part was bad, then the battery wouldn’t charge, and after it stalled from the dead battery you wouldn’t be able to start it again. The alternator also has nothing whatsoever to do with the air conditioner beyond the fact that if it doesn’t charge the battery and the battery goes dead, the air conditioner won’t turn on.

So I agree with the others. I know these guys have been good in the past for you, but either they changed management, or changed mechanics, or you just got really lucky and only had very easy issues for them to work on. Whichever the case may be, they don’t know what they’re doing, and they’re trying to use you to fund their experimentation-based education.

Take it elsewhere, and do not show the new shop what the old shop said. Just tell them what’s wrong and let them draw their own conclusions.


No, you checked the pressure, not the level. When you replaced the switch, did all the refrigerant leak out? When it did, was the system evacuated of air? Did you let it sit overnight with the vacuum to check for leaks? No? Then you AC should be properly serviced and you should stop DIY’ing the AC by hooking up those AC recharge bottles you get from AutoRileyAdvanceMart.

And find a better shop.


So i took it to a different shop and they told me that because I used an a/c refrigerant that they wouldn’t be able to hook it up to their machine. He said they would have to evac the whole system which would cost around $400 just to diagnosis it.

Really not sure what to do. This shop had decent reviews, specialized in a/c and had been in my area for decades.

I think they are saying because they really have no way of knowing what has been done and can’t be certain any of the previous work was done correctly that they are going to start from square one.

This could easily reach $1500.00 or more.

Isn’t 400 for an evac high?

And I’m getting close to that amount already.

Yes, but they’re also diagnosing it which takes time, and time is part of the charge.

Update: The auto shop that said it would cost 400 for an evac said he’d look it over just to check somethings without hooking it up to the system and now just got back to me and told me it was something electrical and that they couldn’t work on it.

I took it to a different shop and they emptied and recharged it and it seemed to be working. They put dye in it and want me to come back in a few days and they can see if it’s leaking. BUT about a mile after I left it died and I had to have it towed back to the shop. They said it wasn’t a/c related, which is why they didn’t notice anything wrong, but they’ll check it out tomorrow. So I could have to replace the evaporator and something else.

It is usually best to have the engine repairs checked out before starting any air conditioning repairs, you wouldn’t want to pay $1500 for A/C repairs then discover later that the engine repairs cost more than you want to spend on the vehicle.

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I thought we had resolved the stalling issue? I guess not so let’s see what the new shop says. I’ve got a dollar though that says it’ll run just fine in the shop. Fuel pump anyone?

OP writes: “I took it to a different shop and they emptied and recharged it and it seemed to be working. They put dye in it and want me to come back in a few days and they can see if it’s leaking. BUT about a mile after I left it died and I had to have it towed back to the shop. They said it wasn’t a/c related,”

AC work requires a specialist. It sounds like this shop has the required specialist, so use them for the AC problem and use your prior shop for the stalling problem. If the two are related at all, it would be due to a faulty AC compressor. But if the AC tests out ok, now, that seems pretty unlikely. The stalling problem must be due to something else, possibly a faulty replacement alternator or faulty battery. Since both shops think there’s an electrical system problem, a battery/alternator system test is probably the first test in order for the stalling problem.

Suggest you read through this 4 part article on how AC systems work in modern vehicles. You’ll be better able to discuss and understand the what the AC specialist shop tech is telling you. Recommending to evac the system is a sign a shop knows what they are doing. The reason they were balking at evac’ing your presumably is b/c they don’t know what you added to it, and whatever is was may contaminate their evac equipment. I’m all for folks trying to fix their own cars in their driveway, but AC work is better done at an AC specialist shop imo b/c of the complexities of modern AC systems.