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Help with decision what to do about dealer recommendation of fixing AC unit for 3800 dollars

Just had the shock of my life. Returned from my dealer to check out an AC problem and was told I needed to replace my entrire AC unit on my 2003 car with all parts. Yesterday when I turned AC on I heard a grinding/jamming sound and then a brief faint smell of burned rubber that went away. Then, it seemed the AC no longer worked. Blower is still fine. My dealer tells me that my compressor froze and then “contaminated” my entire system and thus everything needs to be replaced for $ 3820 estimated cost. Dealer stated that compressor was without any pressure. I know nothing about cars, but wonder whether I should get a second opinion, whether I should get my car fixed at a place like Petboys (maybe cheaper), whether to sell my car, etc. It’s otherwiose in good condition. So upset right now! Help.

You have nothing to lose by getting more estimates. Go to at least two shops that specializes in AC repair. I’ll guess you’ll be looking at about 1/2 of the Honda dealer quote.

Yes, get another quote, and I wonder about the ‘replace everything’ claim. I think good AC shops can flush out the contaminants, reducing the amount of stuff that has to be replaced.

First of all, calm down. Making decisions while you’re upset is not a good idea.

Consult your local phone directory for a garage that specializes in automotive cooling and AC systems. These folks are the experts, and can probably fix your car for less then the Honda dealer.

It’s possible that what the dealer said about the damage and the need to replace the whole system is correct, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay dealer prices.

Chain stores are not a good idea for something like this. Automotive AC systems require specialized knowledge and equipment for proper diagnosis and repair. Chain stores may give you a lowball price, but if they don’t replace all of the contaminated parts you’ll be right back where you started.

Take your CR-V to a shop that specializes in this type of work. Don’t tell them what the dealer said, just let them look at the car and give you their diagnosis.

When the compressor goes on an American car, the clean out and repair work, with rebuilt compressor, normally comes to about $1000. It could be higher, $1500or so for a Japanese car.

By all means go to an independent A/C specialty shop, not Pep Boys, and get a quote. The $3820 seems steep, but not unusual for a dealer’s.

$3,820 is just the dealership price. It is quite likely you can get it fixed for as little as $1,300 if you find the right shop. Shop around at some non-dealership shops for some estimates. Don’t tell them about your existing quotes or they might inflate theirs. Just go in and say “I think my air conditioning has stopped working.” Be prepared to pay for the diagnoses if necessary. Try to get them to give you a quote for free if you can, but don’t let it stop you if they won’t do it for free.

Did the dealer specify what the system was “contaminated” with? If the compressor freezes and, subsequently can’t circulate the refrigerant through the system, I can’t see how the system can be contaminated. Take the car to another mechanic. Tell him that your AC compressor froze. Then ask him if it’s possible that any debris from the bad compressor could have circulated through the entire system. That’s the only thing that could “contaminate” the system.

I started doing some research online and now am reading on many forums that Honda CRV-s have had a problem with their compressors especially 2002 to 2006 models. Many stories exactly like mine with vehicles of low mileage (mine only has 42000 miles). Some people say that a recall should have been ordered. With this info and what I read online I called Honda America who took detailed info including maintenance records, etc, and said they will open a case and get back to me within 2 business days to discuss further action given that my extended warranty just ran out five months ago. On the forums I read many people have been able to get Honda to assume the cost or at least pay partially even after warranty has expired. We will see what happens in my case.

Don’t be surprised if Honda decides not to do anything. Even though this car has low mileage, it is six years old (three years older than the factory warranty). A/C compressors are funny things. They can go out with fairly low mileage or they can last more than ten years.

Sometimes low mileage means the A/C system didn’t get enough use. If the system goes a long time without being turned on, it can hasten the demise of the compressor. If you don’t already do so, make sure you turn on your A/C a few times during the winter months. It can help prolong the life of the compressor.

If Honda decides to at least share the cost of this repair, consider yourself fortunate, and ask them if you can have the repair done at a non-dealership mechanic to save both you and them money.

A little research shows that CRV-s up to 2001 used Sanden compressors. In 2002 the compressor was switched to a Keihin compressor.

Received a phone call from Honda American that they are working with my dealer to get the rate to fix it “below $2000.” I am to get a phone call from my dealer directly by the end of the day. This is part of their “goodwill warranty.” Wonder whether I should try to get the price even lower, especially given that there appears to be a real manufacturing problem potentially. Maybe dealer should be willing to pay for all parts ($ 2300) and I could pay for labor ($ 1500). What do others think?

It couldn’t hurt to ask. The worst they can do is say “no.” After all, you did get six years out of the original compressor, right? That is worth something.

Did you get a second opinion? I am wondering if you can get your air conditioning fixed for less than the discounted rate Honda is offering.

Did not get second opinion as every place wants to charge me about $ 100.00 to look at the car and so second opinions can add up. Also, after reading other people’s experiences with Honda CRVs and this problem, it seemed they all received about same quotes and information about the problem so there appears to be a lot of consistency.

I finally got this settled today. Honda will pay for all the parts ($ 2300) and I will be paying for the labor ($ 1550 minus $131 for the estimate I was charged). Sounds like a fair deal to me.

I would like to think it is a fair deal, but we will never know without a second opinion. For all we know, someone else might have been able to fix it for $1,300.

It might not be…All you REALLY need is a new compressor and the system purged and refilled. I bet $700-$1000 could make that happen…

Thank gawd I have a 10/100 warranty. I’d hate to get stuck with that. Who says Hondas are more reliable? I second (third, fourth) the statements made. Specialist shop, multiple quotes

Wow- You guys are a tough crowd to please. I feel pretty good from having gone from total shock, to not givingup, but doing online research, to calling Honda America who is helping me despite warranty having expired. I think I did pretty well and am pleased with my approach.

Honda must know that when there compressor fails, that it scatters debris so badly through the system that its more labor to try, and clean then to replace.
I think you got a good deal from Honda,and the piece of mind knowing its all new.