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Befuddled AC

1996 Ford Taurus, 6cyl, sedan. AC starts cold, after 15min or so starts to blow warm air. Shut the car off, start again AC is cold again and may stay cold for several more trips but then warm air will show up again. Mechanic replaced two schrader valves on the system, recharged, gave bill of clean health. Drove 10 min started blowing warm air again. Left it at shop, they ran 4 hours, drove, said all is good (pressure, temp down to 46 degrees). Still blows warm air intermittently. Any thoughts?

When it begins blowing hot, can you tell if the compressor clutch is engaged? I’ve seen several of them exhibit that sort of symptoms when that electric clutch is going bad.

The blend doors (or flapper doors) are electrically operated on your Taurus. The acutator for them may also be going bad, but it usually stays in whatever position it dies in so I don’t think that’s it. The actuator is most easily accessed by removing the oval radio pod from the dash. You can see it and get your 8MM socket on all the bolts from up top like that.

Anything specific I should listen for regarding the compressor clutch? If I get the to actuator or the compressor clutch, are they something I can replace myself. Fairly mechanically inclined but never attempted such work.

Do you know where the compressor is? It sits down low on the engine toward the front of the car. The electric clutch sits on the front of the compressor and is driven by the serpentine belt. If the clutch is engaged, the whole front of the clutch assembly will spin together. When the A/C is off, the front portion stands still. If yours is not working properly, it will not ALL be spinning when you select A/C.

If the clutch is bad, it’s probably something you should take to a reputable shop that knows A/C. If the actuator is bad, which I’m thinking is low on the probability list, you can change it easily if you can figure out how to remove the radio pod from the dash. The other choice is to stand on your head under the dash. The actuator is to the right of the pod, about 8 or 10" below. I usually just leave the pod hanging from all those wires and tubes on the back. You can see the actuator easily that way.