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Partner wants me to have AC fixed before road trip

Hi Everybody!

I’m moving from Oklahoma to Kentucky with my partner very soon. She’s concerned about the not-working air conditioning in my 1992 Subaru station wagon. I’m concerned about my not-working bank account.

I’m not much of a mechanic, so I have no idea what’s wrong or how much it might cost to fix. It’s been on the fritz for a few years and sometimes the AC comes on when I drive over a big bump. But it hasn’t come on at all this summer so far.

She is concerned it will get really hot and I’ll pass out or something. I’ve told her it’s not that hot if the windows are down and I’m in motion. But it will be a long couple days of driving to get the car to Kentucky.

How much do y’all think this will cost, and will it be worth doing it before the move? We are both low on money due to the cost of the move and that we are both teachers without a summer salary. :smiley:


If you need a new compressor, it will probably cost between $900 and $1,300 to fix, and I am willing to bet that is what it needs. However, any speculation about what it would cost is just that; speculation. You need to take it to a garage for an estimate.

Get it fixed if the car is otherwise in good shape. You might be able to get a Goodyear or Firestone credit card and get a 0% interest deal on a bill that large if you are able to pay it off within the period of their 0% interest offer. If you are unsure whether you would be able to pay it off in time, don’t do it.

You Could Probably Spend Around $100 To Find Out How Much It Will Cost To Fix. That Money Could Almost Cover It Or You Could Get An Estimate For $1000, At Which Point You’ll Have A Decision To Make.

By the way, I’ve been a teacher before, but I’ve never had a “partner.” Are they pairing you guys up now and sending you on assignment ? What sort of partner ?

Also, if it’s too expensive for now, you could anticipate no paycheck for next summer, too and start budgeting.


as in domestic partner! lol

thanks for the help!

You could have it diagnosed at an automotive AC shop, but be warned, AC repairs are not usually cheap. It’s hard to get out the door for less than a couple hundred dollars, and it’s easy to get over $1,000.

On the other hand, I hate having non-functional AC, and I don’t blame your partner for wanting it fixed.

'92 Subaru? Don’t they pay teachers in OK?

if the pulleys on the ac air compressor are turning when the car is on and the ac is switched “on”, could it still be a compressor problem?

is there any troubleshooting i can do myself?

mcparadise: well, yeah…but… hey, we ARE moving… :smiley:

also, the blower blows but the air is not cold. sometimes it used to kick on and turn cold in the middle of driving.

Loose wire?

You could spend a few $$$ and find out if the AC problem is minor and easily fixed. Oklahoma is hot, and I don’t think Kentucky is any hotter. You’ve lived with it until now, and you can live with it some more. Still, why not find out the real problem? And the cost to fix it?

All our suggestions are just that. It really needs to be professionally evaluated. I believe the east coast is more humid than your area but as UT says, both are hot. AC dehumidifies and yes, you will be very uncomfortable. But, people went east and west in wagons at slower speeds than you will and still survived. If you decide NOT to fix it, good nutrition, plenty of fluid and lots of rest will be key to “surviving” the trip .

Do it the old fashioned way: a large cooler in the rear seat full of ice and drinks. Nonalcoholic please.

Let me see, I think I had my first air conditioned car in '86. From the '60s to '86 we used coolers and soda.

A Thought Just Occurred To Me . . .

. . . Two teachers are moving from Oklahoma to Kentucky very soon, in the heat of summer, with no doubt a couple suitcases or more, on a limited budget, in a 19 to 20 year-old car, and it’s an old Subaru, and the concern is focused on . . .

. . . passenger comfort and being able to keep the passengers cool !

I’m just wondering how many miles are on this vehicle and I’m wondering if it’s up to the journey, air conditoning or no air conditioning. Has it been well maintained ? Is there anything else it needs, besides the air conditioner repair ? Are you taking a load ?

This car is well into its senior citizen years and it might even help the old Subaru get to KY without an air conditioner taxing the engine on the hot roadway.


It might just need a recharge, but it might be an R12 system so a recharge may not be possible.

I think you should at least get an estimate. Something few people consider is the damage that driving on the freeway with your windows down can do to your hearing. You could end up with tinitus at a young age.

Another thought, you could make the drive at night and sleep during the day.

My first air conditioned car was after 18 years of driving, We even had to have the heat on so the engine would not overheat in Death Valley on a 100+ degree day. My guess is if you drink plenty of fluids you will be ok.

“If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

When you say that sometimes the A/C comes on after you hit a big bump, do you mean to say that there is no air coming out of the vents, and then there is, or that after the bump the air gets cool instead of warm? If there is no air output, the problem may be with the blower motor and not the A/C itself, which could be a simple fix.

But if the problem is with the A/C system, that will probably be a pricey fix on a car that old. I’d pass on the repair. A/C is not a necessity, just a comfort.

CSA- that’s a good question, having the AC on may not really help it any

For folks curious, there has never been anything seriously wrong with this car. This was my car in college and that was in 1996, so I know it’s life pretty well. It has had things replaced, but all things that any car would need replaced after that amount of time.

It has already been to the mechanic to be checked for any other problems; they had to fix a ball joint but that’s all.

My partner has her own car, and it has AC, so she’s just worried about me in mine.

Asemaster - when the ac comes back on, I mean the cool comes back on. It blows air all the time.

Keith - I think it is R12!

The same mountainbike - That’s how I’ve been doing shorter trips… it’s fine. Except if I have to pee and I’m stuck on the turnpike :open_mouth:

Thanks for the help everyone! I’ll be taking it in just to see what is going on… I don’t think my guy would charge much for just figuring out what the prob is.

“if the pulleys on the ac air compressor are turning when the car is on and the ac is switched “on”, could it still be a compressor problem?”

Yes. Unless it seizes, the compressor always turns, whether it is working or not.

“is there any troubleshooting i can do myself?”

No. You need a certified air conditioning technician. Air conditioning systems are not do-it-yourself projects, like household plumbing can be for some people. Even the best DIYers need to hire a certified air conditioning technician every once in a while.

Frankly, I already know you need more than a simple recharge of the refrigerant, as Keith mentions. If the refrigerant was low, it wouldn’t occasionally kick on, and if the refrigerant is low, it is because the system has a leak, which should only be repaired by a certified air conditioning technician.

I once had similar symptoms with my car. It was difficult for the certified air conditioning technician to diagnose, but it ended up being the wiring harness on the compressor, requiring replacement of the compressor. 2.5 years later, the air conditioning stopped working again, and again, it’s the compressor, but not an electrical issue.

Bite the bullet and get the problem diagnosed by a certified air conditioning technician, and then get it fixed by a certified air conditioning technician.

Great advice !

Fly from OK to KY and ship the car. Quicker, cheaper and better than driving.