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What to do with those crickets in my A/C Pulley

This is a 2000 Olds Silhouette with about 155K on it. The A/C works.

I do have a squeaky cricket sound coming from my A/C pulley - 99.9% certain that’s the one. (Why couldn’t it have just been an idler pulley or something?)

The questions are:

  • what are the odds that it is just the pulley bearing rather than the bearings in the compressor? The reason I think its just the pulley is that the sound is there with the A/C engaged or not, and the sound doesn’t change if you engage/disengage the A/C. It shows no sign of a problem just spinning it with the belt removed & the car off, but if I wrap the belt around it to apply some pressure as I rotate, it squeaks. I’m guessing that means just the pulley, but I’m not sure.

  • Second, since this is a GM, removing the clutch/pulley assy from the compressor requires the special puller tools. Access to the tools isn’t the problem as I often use the “loaner tool” programs from major auto parts chains. The question is what my odds of success will be if I want to do this without pulling the compressor. The compressor is mounted very low down at the bottom of the engine. As far as I can tell my only access is from the top. I have all of about 6 inches of clearance between the frame & the front of the compressor. Can it be done? Are the odds of success good? Some rust is present, but its not bad - the car spent its whole life in the Mid-Atlantic, so it sees some corrosive conditions, but not bad all in all. I’ve never done it even on the bench, let alone while still mounted and not easily accessible.

If I can’t get at this myself, I suspect most any shop will want to either replace the compressor entirely (not an odd thought, admittedly) or at least do a complete R&R of compressor to do the pulley. I’ll dump the van before I spend that kind of $$ on a squeaky pulley.

If the noise is there with the AC on or off then the problem is with the compressor pulley bearing.

The pulley/bearing can be replaced without replacing the compressor itself. However it requires special pulley removal/installation tools in order to do so. Here’s the tools in use.
http://bernardembden.com/xjs/comclutch/index.htm
Tester

Thanks Tester. I’m glad to have conformation of the diagnosis.

I can get access to the R&R tools for the clutch assy. I’m wondering if trying to do it on this vehicle with the compressor in place on the car is feasible or a losing proposition.

I’ve gone as far as a cylinder hear R&R so I’m not shy about rolling up my sleeves & getting into it.

I did call my regular shop - sure enough, they just replace the whole compressor. The guy I talked to said it was b/c they couldn’t even get the individual parts - which is wrong, but I wasn’t going to argue about it. Its obviously the best option for them - just not for me.

I’ve replaced bearings/pulleys in the vehicle on compressors without disconnecting the refrigerant lines. Some cases require that the compressor be removed from its mount so it can be positioned such to gain access to the front of compressor pulley.

Tester

Well, I did it. Its not suggested for amusement or leisure time activity. You don’t go in though the top, but through the wheel well. And the compressor does have to be dismounted - for lack of about 1/8-1/4" of clearance either to the side or the bottom. Either would have done. Pulling the compressor from its mounts does provide the ability to get the extra little bit without a need to disturb the refrigerant lines other than a little movement.

Of course - the worst part is that it wasn’t the bearing since its still chirping. That’s where its coming from - its not any of the other pulleys, and the belt is not slipping. If I wrap the belt around the AC pulley only, apply pressure and rotate, it squeaks.

I just can’t figure how it could be the compressor - same noise no matter what the compressor is doing. That also leaves out debris in the air gap (aside from the fact that I just cleaned the surfaces anyway).

So - any thoughts? I’m left with something stuck onto the coil & rubbing on the pulley. Like a complete idiot, I was so focused on doing the bearing, the coil got only the most cursory of looks. It had no obvious structural problem and that’s as far as I went. Silly thing to ignore.

At the moment, however, I plan to tear it back down Sunday and take a closer look. So if anyone has any words of wisdom about it all the better.

Embarrassingly enough this turned out to be my harmonic balancer coming apart. It was the A/C pulley making the noise, so I didn’t get that part wrong. But the crank pulley was in the process of separating & had migrated outward by about 1/8" and was also slightly cocked. The A/C pulley is closest to it & was getting stressed by the pull. Sometimes I need to slow down & think more although some people say I already think too much.

Unfortunately this also meant a trip to the shop since you have to drop the subframe to get it & I’m not equipped for that under my “shade-tree.” But it was only a couple hundred bucks, so not too bad and the crickets are gone.