Toyota Tercel - Air Conditoner problem



I have a 1997 Toyota Tercel. I’ve had a problem with the A/C for 2 years now. When I crank up the car and turn on the A/C, it is working fine and blowing cold. After several minutes the A/C light starts blinking and starts blowing hot. To fix this I would turn it off completely, wait a few secs and turn it back on. Usually it starts blowing cold again and the light is solid, until later on the problem occurs again. Every now and then it will not start back up cold. It will continue to blink and blow hot which I continuously turn it on and off until it works again. You can imagine how annoying this can get in mid-summer in hot and humid Alabama. I took it to a mechanic and they said to replace to compressor and everything that goes with it. I believe they didn’t know the answer so they assume replace everything to fix it. Has anyone come across this? Any ideas or suggestions?


It’s not likely the compressor so forget that diagnosis of replacing everything.
It may be nothing more than a pressure switch problem but what needs to be known are the high and low pressures.

About all I can suggest is getting the pressures checked and post the high and low side readings back here for discussion.
Knowing the pressures at both idle speed and elevated rpms would help (say 2000 rpm).


Take the car to a shop that specializes in automotive AC work. There must surely be at least one in your area. They will correctly diagnose and repair the car. It may need a new compressor and it may not, but guessing is not the way to figure this out.


It’s not the compressor, so don’t worry about that.
If it’s blowing ice cold like it did before it started doing this then I’m inclined to think it’s a bad low-pressure cut out switch, a bad harness, or a loose wire in the circuit.
If the cooling seems to have gotten less effective, then you may be a little low on refrigerant.

An automotive A/C shop can put the gauges on it and see if the pressures are okay. If they are, the switch is the problem. IF they’re low, the shop will add some refrigerant and you’ll be good to go. A leak of up to 1/2lb a year is generally acceptable and will not constitute a leak. So there may be no leak. It may just be low.

The shop should add a dye if and when they add refrigerant just in case.



A loss of refrigerant up to 1/2lb a year*

-Matt (again)


Toyota has had some issues with the A/C clutch relay causing exactly what you have described. Don’t know if it applies to your year/make. But the good news is, if it is the problem, its only a 60.00 dollar part, and is as easy to replace as a fuse.


In reply to this comment, would you suggest taking it to Toyota for a diagnostic test if it is true that this is a recurring problem?

Thanks for the other suggestions as well. I’ll take it to an A/C expert (if not Toyota) and keep you posted.


$60 is a lot for a relay! An ordinary relay that will work with a compressor only costs about $15.