Sudden death of Air-Con (Compressor?)

I have KIA-Sedona 2002 Mini Van, and when I’ve just about reached 63,000 mi on it - the Compressor collapsed…! I was pretty mad that the Air-conditioning went bust SO EARLY and suddenly but - I wonder if such a short shelf life of the Air-Con is pretty normal…? Because of the Warranty I have all my regular service done by the same Dealer where I purchased this car, and was never advised about any signs of Air-conditioning repair needs like compressor leaks, etc.

When I complained to the Dealer about the (premature?!?) failure, they charged me $106.43 for their diagnostics of the Air-Con (which made me even more unhappy!), and in addition to that - they ‘victoriously’ concluded that the Compressor leaks and needs therefore a replacement. Their Price estimate: Part $490 plus $147 for Labor.

- Could anyone suggest what are the best steps to take since I believe any mechanic could note some deterioration of the Air-con and perhaps prevent the complete Compressor failure?

- Also: could anyone recommend a reputable Air-conditioning repair shop around SEATTLE / EVERETT area in the State of Washington? - rather than dealing with the Dealer?

Any early advice would be greatly appreciated!

Complete compressor failure is when parts inside the compressor become detached from parts they are suppose to stay attached to. Mechanics say the compressor has expolded.

It is good that this has not happened to you as it is very bad when pieces of the compressor circulate inside the AC system.

You describe a compressor that is leaking,this is very common. I have replace hundreds of GM compressors that leak at where the case halves of the compressor mate together. Compressor leakage is not limited to KIA. Leakage of the AC compressor is one of the major reasons I am a proponent of extended warranty.

By the way the cost of a compressor for a lets say 98 Chevrolet S-Blazer was 606.00 plus about 1.6 hrs labor plus refridgerant and that was in 1998.

I did work for KIA in 2004 and we had much more problems with alternators than compressors.

I once drove a 4 year old Mercury Sable on which the compressor was completely worn, and needed to be replaced. On my Caprice it lasted over 200,000 miles.

Not surprised you Kia needs one and the price quoted is reasonable, as long as it includes purging the system and putting in new refrigerant

I think you’re unfairly bashing the dealer here. The fact you take it in there for “regular service” does not mean that an A/C system inspection is performed UNLESS you specifically ask for it.
Lump that chore into one of a 1000 others that are not part of a so-called regular service. Is the dealer responsible for all 1001 of them?

The fact an A/C system is working fine in May does not mean for one minute that everything is ducky in June and if the compressor is trashed there should have been some ongoing noises that may possibly have been ignored.

Mechanics work on commission. This means that if a mechanic spends time on your car for free his kids don’t get new shoes.
A mechanic can easily spend 50 hours a week “inspecting” cars for free without taking home one red cent. Everyone wants a freebie.

The only thing I see out of line might be the somewhat cheap price you were quoted for doing this job.
Both parts and labor sound awfully inexpensive because a compressor replacement should also entail flushing the system, replacing the accumulator, etc. on top of actually changing the compressor out.

Sorry - but you’re talking like a member of KIA management with typically and almost complete denial of any wrong doing. Furthermore, you are completely wrong stating that I quote…’ a “regular service” does not mean that an A/C system inspection is performed UNLESS you specifically ask for it’…: for your information, KIA is one of the very few Dealers who provides customers with a SPECIFIC LIST of ALL WORK & TESTS TO BE DONE at EACH of the SPECIFIC MILEAGE INTERVALS - INCLUDING any service to be done on A/C System…!!! It just happened that a mechanic either overlooked or did not do the test/inspection of the A/C System properly. Just truthfully describing the facts as they actually happened can hardly be considered as ‘UNFAIRLY BASHING THE DEALER HERE’ - you don’t make any sense what so ever! I have posted this message hoping that I’ll get some useful advice - which I actually did obtain from others EXCEPT you offering only unfairly offensive and useless, socialist-brainwashed comment: if you are incapable to offer an effective and friendly advice to people - then you had better stay out from this Forum rather than destroying the good reputation of the owners of the Car Talk Show…!

Many thanks for your valuable information - really appreciated…!

Thanks for your advice - I’ll make sure that the repair shop will purge the system and fill it up with a new refrigerant.

It’s simple people. You no longer have a heavy duty compressors made from cast iron from York or Frigidaire like in the past. These compressors could take a beating, and if the vehicle took a crap, you could remove the compressor, connect an electric motor to the pulley and make an air compressor out of it.

Today these components are made from an aluminum/magnesium alloy. Compressors, power steering pumps, rack and pinion assemblies, water pumps, transmission cases,…Etal.

This ain’t your 72 Impala anymore!


The problem is that you’re mechanically illiterate (which is not a personality fault) and are simply wanting to point the finger and get a freebie on someone else’s dime.
Don’t like the message so shoot the messenger, huh?

I’ve been a tech for over 35 years and I have never, ever seen a factory recommended maintenance schedule or service that included an A/C system lookover.
Since I don’t expect you to believe me I’ll point to Exhibit A; reprinted from factory recommendations.

Exhibit B would be the owners manual in the glove box; with a strong possibility the former has never been touched and the latter only opened to throw a hair brush into.

Go ahead. Go over either A or B and show me show me where it says “Service A/C” or something to that effect.

And Tester is correct. Many compressors now are pretty much “throw away” units generally designed to suffer through the warranty period before giving up the ghost.
(A couple of years ago the compressor in my daughter’s old Mitsubishi was putting out ice cold air on Friday. On Sun. afternoon after leaving my house she called from a couple of miles away from the roadside. When I got there the belt was shredded and the entire end section of the compressor, along with the entire clutch section, was hanging against the subframe. Not a peep out of it until a catastrophic failure that happened in half a second.)

I have a 2002 kia sadona 3 years ago we had a new air condition unit put in 1700.00…under warrenty ( insurance paid) last year we were told compressure not working 500.00 a friend got us a new one with his discount paid alot less…had it put in drove for one hour cold air gone now hot air blowing again…can/t find receit so can/t return it. so we delt with no air the remaining of summer last year. so now here we go again no air heat wave so we found a used one from a well known garage 100.00 we have paid to put it on now air cold drove the van for a total of couple hours…hot air blowes out again cold air gone!!! this time we smell a foul oder comming out of the vents!!! DOES ANY ONE KNOW WHAT I SHOULD DO??? HELP ME PLEASE!!!

There's not nearly enough info available to be able to sort out what has gone on with this car. Assuming the original 1700 dollar job was done right this brings us to the 500 dollar repair.

Was the drier replaced and the system flushed out for the 500 dollar repair? If not, mistake by the installer.

The current 100 dollar compressor may have a shaft seal leak (common on used compressors) and the system has lost its refrigerant charge. Unless the proper amount of oil was added to the current compressor the smell could be belt slippage due to a compressor trying to seize.

Without knowing a ton of details, pressures involved, etc, etc, etc, it's impossible to say.

I had a 1990 Ford Aerostar and the air conditioning system was very troublesome. In the 10 years I owned the Aerostar, I had at least 2 new compressors. Ford must have been aware of the problem, because the design of the compressor was changed three times.

I had better luck with an independent shop straightening things out than I did with the Ford dealer.

Your car is 9 years old and things do go wrong.

Sounds like three compressors were replaced without locating the refrigerant leak.

If the compressor leaks, it needs to be replaced. I don’t know what kind of test you think would have lead to a repair that would prevent a compressor leak. Your car is 9 years old, your dealer didn’t design it, they didn’t build it, and they aren’t the ones warrantying it. Your dealer would be happy to replace it free if Kia would pay for it. When you bought your car you were given one of the most generous warranties in the industry but nobody covers everything forever.
They say " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing " but a complete lack of knowledge make you look like a whining idiot.