CR-V AC Seized

I like our auto repair shop and have always found them to be honest. Just seeking out additional opinions/options/ideas.

Our 2005 manual CR-V’s AC suddenly stopped working a few days ago, and we brought it in. The shop said the AC seized and needs to be completely replaced, along with the compressor because it introduced some debris. They quoted me $1,465. So. Much. Money. We bought this car just over one year ago in seemingly great condition.

I’m at a loss… Is there any way we can do the work ourselves? or otherwise do it more cheaply?

OK… I just googled this and it seems to be a known CR-V issue:

Ughhhhhhh. Any suggestions at all appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Yep, the ‘black death’ issue (google ‘Honda black death’ for lots more info), sorry but it sounds like your shop has it figured. I would get a second (and maybe a third) opinion, just to be sure.

Thanks. And wow, black death indeed. I called the local Honda dealership to see if we’re covered under any recall or warranty. We aren’t. The service person wasn’t very encouraging about my chances of recourse with American Honda either, since our car is 10 years old and has close to 120,000 miles.

How disappointing.

We had a voyager quite a number of years ago, $1200 back then. That sounds reasonable I guess. Not a DIY as our system and probably yours needed to be completely purged due to possible metal shavings etc.

Unfortunately, this is an example of why you need to do your due diligence prior to buying a used car–even if it is a Honda or a Toyota. These vehicles do indeed have issues with the A/C as they age, the ones with automatic transmissions tend to have trans problems, and all of the AWD-equipped CR-Vs have problems with the differentials as they age.

If you plan to keep this vehicle–and if it has AWD–I strongly urge you to have the differential fluid changed–using ONLY genuine Honda Dual Pump Fluid. With Hondas, using anything other than the specific Honda fluid will lead to even bigger problems.

You bought a 9 year old vehicle and you think it should still have a warranty from the factory, give me a break.

Typically a seized compressor means the motor would stall if u tried to turn on a/c. Or hit defrost. I sort of try and decipher what your suv is doing. Is clutch engaging but no cold air? Don’t seem so. That is to say a low freon condition. Or is compressor turning but still no cold air? That was the typical GM Black Death. My GM compressor turned fine but system pressure never changed.

Aged automotive A/C systems will have a tendency to leak refrigerant unlike a home central unit.
The compressor is the usual source of a leak. The compressors on modern cars are usually mounted down low and with refrigerant loss there is also some refrigerant oil loss due to oil pooling down low. Eventually, oil loss can lead to compressor failure.

Sorry, but the car is long out of warranty and Honda should not warranty this for you. If Honda made an exception and covered this for you then where would it all stop? Covering everyone’s exceptions on 7 to 15 year old cars would bankrupt them in a heartbeat.

The Honda A/C system did not fail because it’s faulty. It failed due to age and the lack of foresight to stay on top of refrigerant and refrigerant oil levels. Please understand that I’m not completely blaming you for any lack of oil in the system as most people are not aware of that type of situation.
It is something to keep in mind for future reference though.

Three CRV issues:

  1. What years are the known AC problems for? I have a 2011.
  2. How are you able to keep up on the oil/refrigerant level in such a unit. So far as I know there is no gauge, and the only way to tell the level is to evacuate the whole unit and see how much you have to add to refill it. A very expensive way to do a reading, if you ask me. Maybe there is some secret here.
  3. Coincidence, today I got paper SPAM (an advertising flier from my local Honda service dept). They were talking about various kinds of service I might want. Two were
    Change the oil
    Change the oil and oil filter
    Since when did any company recommend oil changes without filter? The last time I can think of anyone advocating such a thing was 50 years ago.

My 1999 had its AC compressor clutch bearing go bad last month. My wife had the car on a long trip when it happened. She reported noises and no A/C cooling.A mechanic she called mentioned “black death” and said a $1,000 repair is likely. The AC belt broke and came off at some point.

When she got home I bought a used compressor (which included the clutch) for $45, installed it and some new belts, bought and added freon, and for less than $150 had it going again and so far so good. The problem was the clutch, not the compressor itself. When I took apart the old compressor there was no debris - no black death - no contamination of the whole system.

Maybe you will have similar good luck.

A seizure is more likely a bearing.

If you can live without AC, you can always remove the compressor install an idler pulley in its place until you can find a way past your current cash crunch. The engine itself will run fine without the compressor.

The problem with scroll compressors is that when they fail they usually pollute the system with debris from the compressor. Honda doesn’t approve of flushing the condenser due to the design. I have replaced many scroll compressors, they are like the rotary engine, they perform well until they fail.

@ok4450 would you please explain your recommendation?

Thanks. And wow, black death indeed. I called the local Honda dealership to see if we’re covered under any recall or warranty. We aren’t. The service person wasn’t very encouraging about my chances of recourse with American Honda either, since our car is 10 years old and has close to 120,000 miles.

How disappointing.

The price they quoted you sounds right in the ballpark for a complete and professional job using quality new, not rebuilt, parts.

I’m not sure I understand the origin of your disappointment. The car is 10 years old and is going to require maintenance. All cars do.

Unless the compressor fried the pulley too you should be able to continue driving the car with open windows, right?

Hi, my first post on this forum.
Sorry you had problems with the a/c on your Honda. Unfortunately this is not limited to just Hondas. In my experience as a Shop Foreman with a city here in Az., pretty much all brands suffer from the same condition.
Once the car manufacturers went away from the old piston type a/c compressors to the rotory style this has occurred.
Sometimes you can get lucky and flush the gunk from the system, but this is taking a chance on a second compressor going bad. This is why it is best to replace all the components the first time.
I think you chose the correct repair path to help reduce the cost and you should get good service as long as new components were used.

I concur w/ @Don355 above – and welcome to the forum, Don, good post. The OP’s shop is probably spot on with their diagnosis and approach to fix the problem. And the fee quoted seems to be reasonable, if anything a little on the “bargain” side rather than the “mechanic has a boat payment” side.

fyi, the link below is a good summary for what a car owner needs to know about diagnosing and repairing auto AC.