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Replace a/c clutch without taking compressor out?

Discussion in 'New Dart' started by Dave Z, Aug 18, 2020.

  1. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    My ’13 Dart compressor clutch is bad. The cost of replacing the whole compressor is quoted at $1560. Question: can the clutch itself be replaced without taking the compressor out or draining the system? The clutch itself is only $40! (from Mopar.)
     
  2. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    Here is a Y T video that shows removal of the air conditioner compressor on a 2013 Dodge Dart. The right engine mount is removed and engine supported at the oil pan to facilitate serpentine belt removal. The technician indicates to evacuate and recover any refrigerant before opening the air conditioning system. I am thinking you could avoid the evacuation step. From either underneath or top side unbolt the compressor from its mount to the engine. Jack the right side of the engine up and this should allow turning the compressor (lines attached) so that the clutch pulley points down. There should be sufficient slack in the air conditioner lines to allow this movement.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rniecq5eR40


    Once the clutch pulley is pointing downward, you should be able to remove the center bolt, outer snap ring, inner snap ring, and wiring to replace the clutch. I have not personally tried this procedure but it seems doable.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pLo2R14tKo
     
  3. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    Hmmm... you don't live near here, do you? ;) It's probably outside my personal ability but it does seem that it can be done. Compressors are $$$ and labor to evacuate and refill isn't cheap either.
     
  4. Doug D

    Doug D Virginia Gentleman

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    Allan is in Oklahoma.
     
  5. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I am hiding here in Oklahoma. I thought my disclaimer that "I have not personally tried this procedure" would get me off the hook but I guess not. :)

    I would suggest you contact auto repair facilities in your area and ask about this shortcut. You will probably get a lot of negative feedback (can't be done; doesn't save any time, yada, yada, yada) but you may find a facility that is interested in saving the customer some money. Also look for specialty shops in larger metropolitan areas which specialize in automobile air conditioning work and not general repair.

    I will assume that you have definitively determined that the A / C clutch is not functioning? Is it open circuited or direct short to ground or is slipping?
     
  6. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    I've gotten some negative feedback ;)

    The mechanic looked at it and said it appeared to be very slow, “trying to engage,” but not engaging.

    It's possible the compressor is shot anyway and that's why it's not able to engage. When my Neon compressor died at around 130,000 miles, it seized up rather suddenly, snapping the fan belt.
     
  7. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    With the engine not running you should be able to reach from underneath the vehicle and turn the center hub at the compressor clutch. this is keyed to the compressor shaft. It will have resistance but should turn freely and without strange noises. I am thinking that your compressor is still good. Strange knocking noises or failure to obtain sufficient high discharge pressure would tend to indicate compressor problems assuming expansion valve is functioning properly.

    The clutch coil winding should show resistance around 5 - 6 ohms.
     
  8. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    Ah! That sounds good. Thanks. It turns out my dealer service guy believes he can replace just the clutch, if he can lay his hands on one. I didn't expect that kind of flexibility or I'd have gone there first. That would be great. I've had one go before, many years ago, and it's always good to spend $200 (including labor and $40 part marked up to $80) instead of $1600 (including labor and $780 part marked up to $1100).
     
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  9. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    If a new replacement clutch standalone cannot be found, another option would be to purchase an appropriate used A C compressor with clutch. Then swap the clutch with the defective one on your vehicle. That should still save a significant amount of money.
     
  10. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    That's what I described doing in Dave's other post on this. Worked great. My access to the compressor was a lot easier, though.
     
  11. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    That's a thought. Thanks. Bob, sorry, I didn't see the other post, which is odd. No notification... I'll go look. The good news is my dealer has agreed to look at this solution. Today I plan to check to make sure the compressor turns.
     
  12. ImperialCrown

    ImperialCrown Moderator
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    According to the service manual, the compressor is removed from the vehicle for clutch replacement and benched anyways. Sometimes a technician can find a shortcut without having to open the system?
    The reclaim, evacuate and refill operation is the expensive one. At that point, the technician may want to replace the compressor/clutch assembly if it is a high mileage vehicle. The technician will definitely want to replace the compressor/clutch assembly if there are any signs of refrigerant oil at the shaft, nose or seal (see: inspect.pdf). I doubt that the seal is serviceable.
    See attached:
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    @ImperialCrown,
    The tech was able to not open the system. The vehicle is low mileage so they did swap it but they also changed parts I didn't see as being needed but which Chrysler demanded be changed, including of all things the pulley. Made it a rather expensive chore but when they were done, it worked fine. They said the compressor spun easily and did not show any signs of wear or failure or they would have stopped.
     
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  14. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    Attached is a schematic, exploded view of the air conditioning compressor and clutch components. If the facility replaced items #5, #6 and #7 then that was the proper procedure. The clutch pulley contact face and the clutch hub wear together so should be replaced as a unit. You got a new bearing in the pulley so with this repair, you should have many years forward with no issues at least in this area with the air conditioning system. Even though the end result did cost more than planned, I do believe this was the best action to take. If you can keep an air conditioning system sealed and minimize opening or even adding refrigerant, you will extend its life into the future.

    A C Compressor Clutch Assembly.gif
     
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  15. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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    Thanks. I appreciate your support that they did the right thing. It was $$$$ as you can imagine from a dealer, though they tried, I think, to keep the price down as much as possible. The parts department is not helpful there! I appreciated their doing it at all. The independent mechanic I went to first refused to. He wanted $1500 for the new compressor. Given that the Dart is only worth around $2800 and has a Fiat powertrain, that seems like too much to pay... but the clutch alone will pay for itself if I can keep the car a few more months with no other repairs, which it probably will. At least that gets me into the winter, when I expect my son will go off to college and we can drop to one shared car [sigh]. So much for my plans of getting a Fiata or Civic Si. Automatic transmissions for here on...
     

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