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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 2:32 am 
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Year and Trim: 1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - L67 Series 1 - 131,000 Miles.
I was driving home and because of a horrible smell coming from my car, I had to pull over. I take a look and something is burning off. I get a flashlight out and its near my AC Compressor. Upon making it home (thank god), I was able to get a better look and by this point the car was already making a rattling noise.

Turns out my AC compressor is done for. The AC never worked since I got the car but it acted as a pulley ever since. Before I could move the clutch freely by hand even though it never kicked on. Well I always put the AC on just to get some outside air into the car. Apparently this time, the clutch actually went to engage and jammed itself? I'm not exactly sure how it happened but now you can hear the internal parts rattling around as well as freon burning off, bubbling, and popping. The pulley seems to be a bit bent now, and the outside part of the compressor(the clutch) is now completely frozen. It used to move like silk, but now its shot.

So I am in a bit of an emergency here as to what to do. I do not know the AC system very well, but I have done all the other work to my car and if I now have to dish $200 for a new compressor, i'd like to do the work myself. Is an AC Compressor one of those things you don't pick up at a junkyard and just buy new? Since this problem arose, could anything else possibly be damaged? The car is specified as R12 on the accumulator, time to get a new compressor, and convert to R134a?

I greatly appreciate everyone's help as I am currently unable to drive the car.

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Last edited by ColdScrip on Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:20 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:51 am 
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ColdScrip wrote:
I was driving home and because of a horrible smell coming from my car, I had to pull over. I take a look and something is burning off. I get a flashlight out and its near my AC Compressor. Upon making it home (thank god), I was able to get a better look and by this point the car was already making a rattling noise.

Turns out my AC compressor is done for. The AC never worked since I got the car but it acted as a pulley ever since. Before I could move the clutch freely by hand even though it never kicked on. Well I always put the AC on just to get some outside air into the car. Apparently this time, the clutch actually went to engage and jammed itself? I'm not exactly sure how it happened but now you can hear the internal parts rattling around as well as freon burning off, bubbling, and popping. The pulley seems to be a bit bent now, and the outside part of the compressor(the clutch) is now completely frozen. It used to move like silk, but now its shot.

So I am in a bit of an emergency here as to what to do. I do not know the AC system very well, but I have done all the other work to my car and if I now have to dish $200 for a new compressor, i'd like to do the work myself. Is an AC Compressor one of those things you don't pick up at a junkyard and just buy new? Since this problem arose, could anything else possibly be damaged? The car is specified as R12 on the accumulator, time to get a new compressor, and convert to R12?

I greatly appreciate everyone's help as I am currently unable to drive the car.


First, see if there is any pressure left in the system by removing a cap from one of the service ports and depressing the schrader valve. If the refrigerant is all gone, you can remove the compressor and install a replacement pulley where the compressor pulley was. A cheaper alternative that may be possible is to alter the belt routing for the accessory belt and run a shorter belt to bypass the compressor until you get some money. (I know this can be done with the L27, not sure about the L67.) If there is pressure (R-12 refrigerant) remaining in the system, then you need to have it removed by a shop with recovery equipment. When you get the $$, this would be a good time to convert it to 134a. You would need to replace the compressor, orifice valve, and usually the accumulator, then evacuate the system, put in a proper oil charge and recharge the system with refrigerant to get cool again. A bit of bad news is that when compressors catastrophically fail as yours apparently has, little bits of aluminum can be distributed throughout the system requiring flushing to prevent damage to the new compressor. This can get expensive quickly.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:07 am 
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This is never good, even worse when it happens on the road on your daily driver. You can try the shorter belt trick if it will work on your motor. A "compressor delete pully" is you next best option ifyou want to run the stock belt. R12 is obsolete and horribley expensive if you can even find it. Now would be the time to with R134. As mentioned before, you may have all sorts of nasty chunks floating thru your system. I recently replaced my compressor, accumalator, condenser and oriface tube along with the radiator that developed a leak. I scored all these parts thru a Ebay vendor for $400. The clutch on my compressor locked down.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:18 am 
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Here is a post with info about routing the belt, etc., for a AC delete
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=976&p=10198&hilit=belt#p10198

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 2:46 pm 
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Year and Trim: 1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - L67 Series 1 - 131,000 Miles.
Is there any performance boost with getting rid of the AC Comp pulley? In other words, eliminating it from the belt drive.

If I buy the pulley delete, I would have to cap off the lines leading to the compressor to prevent moisture from geeting in correct? Pipe thread?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:48 pm 
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Not worth getting rid of it completely unless your car is strictly for racing and you're trying to rid some weight.

Otherwise, it freewheels easily...doing nothing more than being an idler pulley. If you don't want A/C, just get a junk compressor from a JY vehicle, put it in and leave it unplugged. However, a good working refrigerant system can be useful...such as for a defroster.

As Bill Buttermore mentioned, this can get seriously expensive...and thats even when doing it yourself. If the compressor bit the dust and left shavings in the lines...you might have to replace your condenser and evaporator core in addition to cleaning the lines, replacing the compressor, o-rings, accumulator and orifice tube. Essentially replacing everything but the lines themselves. Easily over a grand for all of that...at least two if you have it done professionally.

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Now: '15 Toyota Prius III | 134 hp 2ZR-FXE | Silver | 36k
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Then: '07 Ford Fusion SEL | 221hp Gen I VVT Duratec 3.0 V6 | Tungsten Silver | 150k
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Then: '11 Ford Fusion SEL | 240hp Gen II VVT Duratec 3.0 V6 | Ingot Silver | 84k | Totaled: Oct 23 '14 (Rear-Ended)
Then: '96 Buick Park Avenue Ultra | 240hp Series II L67 | Medium Dark Lichen | Bought: JAN 11 @ 135k | Accident: FEB 3 '12 | Crushed: MAR 1 '13 @ 153K
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Then: '89 Pontiac Bonneville LE | 165hp 3800 LN3 | Medium Garnet Red | Bought: JAN '05 @ 117k | Sold: SEP 30 '07 @ 152k


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:47 pm 
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ColdScrip wrote:
...
If I buy the pulley delete, I would have to cap off the lines leading to the compressor to prevent moisture from geeting in correct? Pipe thread?
No, they are not pipe thread. You will want to remove an aluminum block that holds both refrigerant lines and bolts to the compressor. Those pipes seal with o-rings. Just find some neoprene (rubber) stoppers the right size or buy some vinyl caps that you can put in or over the two pipe ends to keep moisture out of the system. Wire the block and hoses out of harm's way for the day when you can afford to restore function to the system.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:57 pm 
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Year and Trim: 1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - L67 Series 1 - 131,000 Miles.
Bill I think I am going to be going down that path. I hit the valve, and its completely out of freon. I have the compressor loose but I am unable to get it out of the car. Any tips? I keep wiggling it, but I don't see an open path.

I am still having trouble but I was thinking that if I got the lines out of the way it could help to get it out. I am thinking of capping the system off where the line from the compressor meets the accumulator and what looks to be a line going to the radiator? Could this work?

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Last edited by ColdScrip on Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:59 pm 
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Year and Trim: 1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - L67 Series 1 - 131,000 Miles.
Well a nut loose, a large cut, and 4 stitches later after the doctor visit, the compressor is finally out. I got a bypass pulley for $40 bucks. Its plastic but I suppose that would be alright. I took the lines out. No idea of the thread so it looks like i'll just use Bill's idea.

When I went to loosen the nut from the line to the condenser, the nut budged and my wrist got cut on the plastic of the top of the fans. Fun. First time with stitches.

One last question, if I was to replace the AC system is there anything im forgetting:
1. Compressor
2. Condenser
3. Accumulator
4. Orifice
5. Evap core
6. Line from accumulator to compressor and condenser.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:49 am 
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If you're going to charge the new system yourself, you're going to need manifold pressure gauges & valves, a vacuum pump, enough R134a to charge the system, and the proper lubricating oil charge if the compressor doesn't come pre-charged with oil (I have no idea id they do or not). Make sure you use new O-ring seals wherever refrigerant lines attach to compressor / evaporator / condenser / accumulator, etc.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:37 am 
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ColdScrip wrote:
When I went to loosen the nut from the line to the condenser, the nut budged and my wrist got cut on the plastic of the top of the fans. Fun. First time with stitches.
Battle scars. The harder we push or pull, the more damage we do when the wrench slips or the fastener suddenly breaks free. A great reminder to always position our body parts in anticipation of those possibilities. No matter how careful we are, though, these things are gonna happen. Glad you were not hurt badly enough that you couldn't finish the job!

ColdScrip wrote:
One last question, if I was to replace the AC system is there anything im forgetting:
1. Compressor
2. Condenser
3. Accumulator
4. Orifice
5. Evap core
6. Line from accumulator to compressor and condenser.


Although it is pretty much routine practice to change out the accumulator and orifice anytime the system is opened, if you did not find any evidence of particle contamination (sparkly chips in the lines from the compressor), you may be able to re-use all the lines and major components but the compressor. As you have already removed the lines from the accumulator to the condenser, you could rinse them out through a coffee filter to determine the presence of metal particles.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:21 pm 
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I'm pretty sure the conversion from R12 to R134a requires an orifice tube change to a different size.

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