Can I do these repairs myself?

passat
airconditioning

#1

I just got back form the mechanic after being stoned for $180 service fee when they replaced nothing (note my frustration). They did tests on my A/C and cruise control. I was quoted at $1600 to replace the A/C compressor, and $700 to replace a cruise control vacuum pump. Ive found the parts myself for significantly cheaper. How realistic is it to think I could do this work on my own…and if so where would I go about finding instructions on how.

Car: 1997 VW Passat GLX 2.8L 6cyl


#2

I’d say the cruise control should be something you could tackle, but not the AC. The AC compressor has electrical connections, is driven by the serpentine belt, and handling the refrigerant takes care. You don’t want to release the old refrigerant into the air, and then you have to recharge the system properly. Any leaks are a problem and leaks would be expected by a DIY home mechanic without specific AC experience.


#3

Not everything would be this way, but in this case its one of those “Well, if you have to ask…”

I don’t know that you should be frustrated at a “service fee.” Do you think that the expert time it takes to evaluate things should be free? I will say that it sounds a bit like you were are a dealer. Is that where you’re going? How certain is the mechanic that these items are your issue? What is/are your issue/s with the car?\


#4

I’m more frustrated that it took 4 hours for diagnostics…and they never at any point communicated to me how much it was going to be…not that there was one.

This issue with the AC is that the back of the compressor is leaking. I went to a NAPA repair shop and was told that in order to replace the comp. he is also required (by whom I am unsure) to replace several other things that seem to be working fine.

Like I said, they mechanic looked at it for 4 hours and by hour #3 had JUST gotten to the A/C so Idk how sure they are. That being said I can live without A/C, I was just curious if it was a reasonable self repair

And as far as the cruise control…its a $45-$60 part ,a couple attachements, and some bolts…I can handle that. Just took a little deeper digging. (Note: he told me the part was $500)


#5

Also Uncle Turmo and Cigroller thank you for suck a quick reply


#6

The mechanic works on flat rate. This means if he inspects your car and you are not charged then he will be working for free along with the shop.

Many people also take cars to mechanics for an inspection and have no intention at all of spending one dime on any repair. They’re simply looking for a free diagnosis so they DIY.

If you go to the doctor and pay him a 150 bucks for an office visit are you going to also consider that being stoned if you refuse to do any further recommended procedures?

I will only add that you can get seriously hurt with A/C work and it’s going to require a number of procedures and tools that you’re not familiar with and don’t have.


#7

If you have a competent mechanic, he needs to obtain parts that he is reasonably certain won’t fail within a specified period of time that he warrants his work. The part is guaranteed and will be replaced by the manufacturer, but the mechanic will be out his labor.

I usually forget about the cost of a job if it is done right. However, I never forget an unsatisfactory job no matter how low the price.


#8

Actually when you replace a compressor there are other parts that go into it. If you skip on them, then gunk gets into the new compressor and you are back at square 1. Get several quotes to fix the AC, including a specialty AC shop if you have one in your area. Then take care of the cruise yourself, leave the AC to the shop you feel best about.


#9

I’m more frustrated that it took 4 hours for diagnostics…and they never at any point communicated to me how much it was going to be…

That is a reasonable thing to be frustrated about. IMHO a good shop should give you an idea up front. I get around the problem these days by having a very specific discussion about it so I know in advance. For the kinds of diagnostic searches that could just go on and on I usually just ask them to stop at X amount of time. Of course, you do need a place you trust to leave it at that.

Uncle Turbo is right about the other A/C parts. They should be done and if you’re jumping into that much $$ you should thank them for doing it right. My knowledge of AC is somewhat shaky but any compressor replacement should go along with a new accumulator. There are other odds & ends that someone smarter than me would have to add.


#10

As far as the cruise control parts, if you want to give that a shot on your own with your cheap parts, go ahead. If they don’t work out for you or last very long, it’s your problem. Ditto for if the repair doesn’t go exactly as planned, they send you the wrong parts, etc. Repair shops have a tendency to use premium parts from a known good supplier because they want their customers to be satisfied with the repair for a good long time. They will also mark them up, not to be shady, but to stay in business. Markup is not a rip-off tactic, but is standard in any business with an overhead, especially an overhead as substantial as an auto repair shop, which is way, way more than most people would care to guess. They also know that if you have a good experience with getting your car repaired by them, you might tell someone you know, but if you have a bad experience, you will tell everybody you know and everybody you see who will listen (and probably some people who don’t care to listen). Before attempting anything, though, it may not hurt to consider cigroller’s comment about “if you have to ask…” That was actually the first thing that I thought when I saw the title of this thread.

As far as the a/c repairs, they are not selling you unnecessary parts “that seem to be working just fine”. Any time any part of the air conditioning system has to be replaced, the receiver dryer and orifice tube (or expansion valve, depending on the design of the system) have to be replaced. The orifice tube/expansion valve often get clogged with contaminants introduced to the system by the failed parts, and if a leak is present and during repairs, the desiccant in the receiver dryer will become contaminated. Replacing these parts is standard procedure during any a/c repair. If you want it done otherwise, a good shop will refuse to do it. A not-so-good shop will do it, but refuse to warranty parts or labor because they know the repair is not being done properly and will either not work properly or fail very soon, putting you back at square one. Doing the repairs yourself is not a viable option unless you have a background in working with refrigeration equipment and have things like a deep vacuum pump, manifold gauges, and a highly accurate scale. If you don’t have those items, which are absolutely necessary for a satisfactory a/c repair, buying them will set you back several hundred dollars if you buy cheap stuff, closer to a grand or more for better stuff.