Dodge Caravan A/C compressor

Our caravan (2003 with 79,000 miles) has been going through compressors for the past 3 years. Usually they are under warrenty but it is a real pain to not have the a/c most of the summer. The mechanic flushes, charges, replaces. I can’t keep up. What can I have them do different to stop this cycle?

Perhaps try a different supplier.

Do You Know What Part Of The Compressor Is Failing Each Time?

ADDED Stuff:
Are they replacing the receiver-drier each time? Because of the importance, most compressors are not covered by warranty unless the receiver-drier is replaced at the same time.

No, I’m pretty clueless. The mechanic is a trusted family friend but he doesn’t really explain it so I understand whats going on. And since its usually underwarrenty we’re stuck with his replacing it with the same kind from the same place.

Have You Tried Calling A Few Auto A/C Shops And Asking Them?

Maybe you can compare what they’re telling you to what you see going on with your car.

I know they have replaced it some of the time. Don’t really know about all the time. They say sometimes stuff breaks loose and has to be flushed. We’re in a small town so no dealer or shop specifically for AC. The compressor always makes a “whine” too. They have put one on and had it go out immediately. This last one worked for about 45 minutes. I can ask them if they are replacing the receiver-drier each time.

I Don’t Even Live Near A Town. I Search For Places With Toll-Free Numbers Anywhere And Give A Call.

One thing that will kill a new compressor quickly is the presence of debris in the lines from a previous failed compressor. I would hope that every time a new unit is installed that the system is being properly flushed and evacuated.

Do you know if this is being done, or are these compressors simply being replaced with almost nothing in the way of proper A/C system servicing being performed?

Yes, they do say they are doing the flush.

It’s possible to get a rash of crummy compressors; especially if they’re Four Seasons brand rebuilds.

You need to ask this trusted family friend if he’s replacing the accumulator, or drier, and if he’s not then you need to find someone who knows what they’re doing.

Hopefully this friend also has a vacuum pump and is doing a thorough evacuation. There is moisture in the system after a comp. replacement and over time moisture mixed with refrigerant oil can be damaging to the system.

Speaking of refrigerant oil, the trusted family friend is making SURE the system has the right amount of oil and not simply assuming the compressor has oil in when removed from the box isn’t he? Some compressors come with oil in them, some with little or no oil.

I guess I need to clarify that this mechanic is not just a backyard mechanic. He and his family have run a shop with a good reputation in town for many years. These are all things he has mentioned doing. I think what I need to clarify with him is that he is doing all of them each time he replaces a compressor. Also, I’ll ask if they are Four Seasons brand. I feel like we are kind of stuck using the same mechanic to keep from having to pay again. In writing in I was hoping I would learn about some really odd unusual thing that they might not have thought about. I keep thinking it is somehow connected to the whine/groan that the van didn’t make before we had to keep replacing compressors.

Don’t Shoot Me! I’m Just The Messenger! A Case Of Good News / Bad News?

The good news is I think I possibly figured this out. The bad news is that you may not like the good news.

There exists a Chrysler TSB (Techcnical Service Bulletin) #24-005-03, Group: Heating & A/C, dated 06/20/03 that details procedures for dealing with compressor failure on some 2001 - 2003 Caravans. The bulletin involves replacing the compressor, related lines, inspecting the receiver/drier, and checking the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) to see if the appropriate software is intalled.

This bulletin is about 20 pages long and details several hours of labor.

It looks like in many cases Chrysler extended the compressor warranty to 7 years or 70,000 miles to cover these failures. They refer to Warranty Bulletin #D-03-12 for details.

This may be too little (or too much), too late. But, it could steer you in the direction of a solution. I don’t suppose you have the original failed compressor sitting around, do you? You could always talk to Chrysler if they’re still answering their phones.

Sorry. Hope it helps, though.


Checking for TSB’s is very close to the top of the list in diagnosis,good job.

I think the OP is out of luck. They’re using reman compressors and the original compressor is likely long gone as a return core on the first replacement.

You might give a few more details about this whine/groan that you now state did not exist before the compressor replacements started.

It’s still going to be near impossible to make much of a guess on this without knowing the details about high/low side pressures, whether the drier was actually replaced, etc.

Whining or groaning could be caused by overcharging or a condition that simulates overcharging; cooling fans inoperative, faulty expanion valve, oil clogged condenser (too much oil), etc.

Yeah, long gone. The first time the a/c went the van started groaning and got louder until the ac quit. Now it groans after the a/c has quit too.

Wish I’d know about the Chrysler bulliten before we hit the current 79,000+ miles we’ve got on it. I will look it up. I’m trying to arm myself with info to go back to the shop with and see if this can get fixed right. I may have to take my losses and take it somewhere else.

Just some food for thought here, but is there a possibility the compressor(s) were never bad to begin with and the entire problem is related to an aged belt or belt tensioner that is failing?

A/C compressors, like head gaskets, can be frequently misdiagnosed is why I mention that.
I’ve seen several vehicles over the years that were diagnosed with bad compressors, etc. and the problem was no more serious than a bad or incorrect belt, failing idler or tensioner pulley, inoperative cooling fan, etc.

A friend of mine some years ago bought a very clean, low miles used Oldsmobile from the local Olds/GMC/Jeep dealer. He never checked the A/C until AFTER the purchase and it squealed like a banshee.
He took it back in to the service dept. where they told him the compressor was on the way out and since he had purchased the car “AS IS” the repair bill was on him.

He brought it to me and a quick lookover showed they had installed a new, and incorrect, belt on the A/C. It was very apparent just by looking at it. After I installed a new and correct belt the squealing went away and the air was ice cold.

Just something for consideration anyway because I’ve never heard a compressor groan. Knock, rattle, rumble, growl, howl, and even shriek but never groan.

I will ask the mechanic about the belts. He says the parts have been new from NAPA and he has done everything the right way. I take it back in Wednesday. Thanks all of you for your input.


Keep us posted. You could help somebody else.


The mechanic just called and discovered it is a hose leaking freon between the compressor and the evaporator. He also learned that with the dual air he hadn’t been doing something long enough. Keeping pressure on something.