Orifice Tube OR Expansion Valve?

AC blows really cold but the pulley is wobbling. Mechanic says the Compressor shaft is aluminum and the pulley is steel, ie, bad combination.

The Auto Parts store (OReilly’s) says my 2002 Toyota 4 Runner, SR5 calls for a Orifice Tube in the Compressor Kit but my mechanic says it has an Expansion Valve.
So which is it?

Mechanic also says that it takes longer to change the expansion valve because it is behind the dash on the passenger side. Is that true?

Either way I’m getting screwed by having to replace a good (original) compressor on account of the pulley. Clutch works fine.

Any and all advice needed.


Everything your mechanic is telling you is correct. Here’s the expansion valve. http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=1308844&cc=1388707


And the pulley hub on many compressors are quickly trashed when the hub bearing begins to fail and the inner race spins on the hub. But they are good while they last.


I agree with @Tester . . . expansion valves are sometimes behind the dash.

FWIW most mechanics would replace the whole compressor assembly if the pulley was wobbling. They wouldn’t want to take a chance.

BTW have you considered that the pulley may be wobbling because the shaft is the problem?

FYI the pulley is considered to be part of the clutch (along with the bearing and the magnet)

Check out this picture of the “clutch assembly”


Rockauto 4 seasons prices

Remanned clutch $127.79

Remanned compressor WITH clutch $201.79

Easy to see why mechanics want to sell the whole compressor, isn’t it?

Can’t say as I blame them, because I’m one of them.

Unless I’m missing something, when is a compressor shaft made out of aluminum?

If one wanted to go that route and assuming the problem is no worse than a loose pulley bearing, AutoZone shows a new bearing for under 20 bucks.

Not the compressor shaft, but the compressor casting where the clutch bearing is mounted.


We had the pulley off when we did the timing belt, water pump and gaskets. I think the initial problem was that the retainer clip was busted. I bought a new one but the end of the shaft was already tapered. I put some aluminum air duct tape on the inside of the pulley which acted as a shim. I know it was a rig job but it has lasted about 4 months - but then again it hasn’t been all that hot yet and with a brutal hot summer around the bend I feel I better get this done.

Mechanic recommends “NEW” Murray Brand (complete with clutch) from OReilly’s for which the quote was $365.99 plus tax with a $10 core. Plus the Expansion Valve, Drier, 134a, flush and clean, Pag 46 oil and LABOR @ $40 per hour.

Mechanic says he can do it in a couple of hours if he doesn’t change the expansion valve which he claims don’t really give out. I guess I’m looking at about $600 for it all.
Got a quote from a local shop at $700 to $1000 so I think I’m saving some money.
Once I get this done it should last for quite a few years I’m hoping. I trust the mechanic - he’s done lots of work on the truck and I’ve not had a problem yet.

If the design was better engineered I wouldn’t have this problem. The automotive industry thrives on faulty design and planned part failures. I’m 63 and have seen through the years part designs that only an idiot would think was a good idea. They have to keep the money flow going. Every once in a while there is a vehicle that defies the chronic breakdowns.

Thanks to all for your time and advice on this issue.

Not to derail the thread here but why in the world would someone disassemble the front of the A/C compressor to replace a timing belt? Did they get lost? And if the snap ring was already broken then that may have been the cause of the problem to begin with.

If this is the only problem with the A/C system then the failure is external and there should be no debris or contamination inside the system. The expansion valve should be fine. I wouldn’t flush the system either, just replace the compressor assembly and drier and you’ll be fine.

Why do you consider wear and tear on a moving part a faulty design?

When we did the timing belt all the other belts (3) were changed as well. That is when it was noticed that the pulley was loose. I did mention that the snap ring was initially the problem which most likely went unnoticed by the woman I bought the vehicle from.
Yes the problem is external, however, O’Reilly’s offers a 2 year warranty as long as all the other parts are changed along with the compressor. It is still going to cost some money. I know there are reman and cheapy china compressors on ebay but I don’t think I should take a chance on a shipped item. Better to buy New and Local.
This mechanic is thorough and likes to do a job the right way.

As far as I know, your warranty would be good as long as the drier is changed. On an orifice tube system it would need to be changed, but an expansion valve shouldn’t need to be in this case. At least that’s the way they treat me, and I’m a repair shop. And yes, new. I don’t remember the last time I installed a reman compressor.

BTW, if you have a Performance Radiator near you, check them for price and availability. They’re my first choice for new compressors, and I’ve found the quality to be better than Murray.

$40/hr? Must be a guy working on the side, not a shop.

I undertand now; the shaft referred to is actually the nose of the compressor housing.
Can’t say as I’ve ever seen a damaged snout on a compressor other than the ones that someone broke; and I’m not saying the OP broke this one.

@ok4450, I used to see it on the Ford FS10 compressors, the pulley bearing would go and the resulting wobble and heat would wear the snout so a new pulley would be loose on the snout as well. Also happened on a Chrysler LHS I drove many years ago.

@asemaster, thank you for the input and I could certainly see soft aluminum getting hammered by compressor pulses.
It sure seems like a fairly young vehicle to suffer a problem like this unless the mileage is way up there but I agree that a compressor replacement is the only option and should be done sooner rather than later.
One has to wonder if that pounding will eventually shatter the snout at a bad time; say late night on a lonely road.

Also agreed that seeing this is not an internal failure of the compressor the expansion valve could be given a pass.

Just a comment but is the O’Reilly compressor a quality compressor? I don’t know but it isn’t necessarily something I’d be buying from them. Also the warranty will only cover the part, not all the rest of the cost which is the major part. I’ve had used, rebuilt, and new put in and would generally favor new for sure.

Well i have a ford focus and when i crank it i smell gas and black smoke comes out at first turns into white. Gas comes out tail pipe what that.my battery goes dead i change the mass air flow sensor nit that wjat could it be i need help.

You really need to start your own separate thread about your Focus problem. This will prevent making things convoluted and will also get you more responses.

As to your car’s problem, my guess would be that a fuel pressure regulator has gone bad but you haven’t provided much info on the car itself.

if you have to replace the comp. go new a lot less headaches.

@ok4450 it happened on my previous car.

It had a Denso compressor which was blowing ice cold air.

The pulley was also wobbling because the snout was severely worn.

It’s not uncommon.

I’m not doubting the worn snout thing at all; just saying that it’s something that I’ve never personally run across while doing A/C work.

Just to throw some off the wall thinking out there seeing as how a piece of air duct tape lasted 4 months, I wonder how a Speedi-Sleeve of the appropriate size would hold up?

Well that’s an ingenious idea! A speedi-sleeve. That’s some “out on the farm” thinking there. Although for the trouble in the event you have to remove the compressor to service it, I think I’d just opt to replace it.