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Old 04-20-2011, 04:49 PM   #1
Vision
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2001 SL
Default A/C System Not Engaging

I tried to turn on the air conditioning in a 2001 sl today. The A/C has always been pretty good once it gets going. Today punching the a/c button produces nothing. The a/c system wasn't running as there is no noticeable pull off the engine and no cool air. The a/c light is on, the fan blows but the ac isn't running.

What could be causing this? Bad fuse?

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Old 04-20-2011, 05:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

It can be a fuse, check for a blown one. More likely, your car falls into the same problems most car a/c systems suffer after long dependable use, a leak. Whether you want to accept it or not, recharging will not fix a leaking system. Treat it like a tire leak; find the leak and repair it yourself or have it fixed properly by a repair shop. Unless you're equipped to perform a full repair, the most you can and should do is to spend the time inspecting the entire system under the hood to look for dye/oil stains as the source of the leak. All a/c systems are sealed and not meant to be refilled whenever a leak occurs just because stores sell recharge kits and every car has service valves. If you consider a/c systems a little more sophisticated than tire leaks but with the same problem, a leak, then refilling a leaking system is all that's accomplished. When it leaks is anyone's guess because the leak and repair was avoided. Store sealer only creates more money for the inevitable and more expensive repairs down the road. Time spent finding the source of the leak can save hundreds of dollars because a better determination can be made as to what course of action to take.

Use this as a primer; http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80107

Search all the threads about a/c problems and you'll see a pattern.

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Old 04-20-2011, 07:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

Thanks fdryer, I get your lesson.

The car has 170k and I was hoping to get another year or two out of it. Since it took 10 years to fully leak (I thought last summer the a/c wasn't up to its full strength) does it make any sense to try and refill it? Or do I just go to the pros? What's the cheapest I can get out of a visit to a pro for the fix of a minor leak and a recharge?

Thanks for your help.

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Old 04-20-2011, 08:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

There is no right or wrong answer here. The complication with refrigeration has to do with the amount lost where a vacuum begins; the compressor is always sucking (suction side) and if allowed to run with a minimum of R134a, a vacuum serves to pull in outside air and moisture from a leak that destroys the system from within when recharged indiscriminately. A leak not only releases pressurized refrigerant but when pressure is lost the opposite occurs - a vacuum. When this vacuum occurs is not important but that it ocurs and a/c systems do not work with air/moisture circulating with a recharge no matter how well the initial impression of cooling. Not knowing the leak size, despite taking years (and is no real yardstick since it could have been from any number of reasons that occurred recently), refilling will always be a crap shoot. Wish for the best outcome but accept the worst case scenario. Soft aluminum tubing weakens from vibration and hardens locally from bending stresses, fittings loosen, tube clamps collect dirt that rubs tube walls thin to the point of rupturing, compressor seal leak occurring by the clutch assembly, and slow leaking from one or both service valves from loose caps, etc.. Some shops will gladly recharge any system for somewhere between $50-$150 depending on local state/city policy in regards to EPA regulations. This doesn't stop anyone from buying and using refill kits from stores selling them. The difficulty is determining what amount to refill with.

Dangerous high pressures exist on a good operating system that exceeds 250psi on HOT and humid days. It only takes one mistake discharging 50psi of refrigerant to go blind. Only experienced persons can safely judge how much to add based on performance charts from service manuals and very careful monitoring as well as assessing whether or not a system is contaminated with air and moisture. Over charging simply loads down the compressor that drags engine torque down, extreme high pressures are created that can lead to rupturing or explosion hazards, and a more expensive repair. Mixing air and moisture into a recharge is just a recipe for long term damage.

Pay a pro to assess what to do or take a chance like many will do anyway. Its your money. Personally, I would stay away from any shop using leak sealer.

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Old 04-21-2011, 12:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

I just had this problem (compressor not kicking in), the black wire between the A/C clutch and the in-line connector at the A/C unit was broken, I removed the connector and soldered the wires, I got lucky I guess. Also last summer it wasn't blowing as cold as it used to, shop filled the refrigerant and it works OK again.
For sure, A/C systems can be wallet vacuums.... I got lucky I guess.

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Old 04-22-2011, 07:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

It becomes a cost-benefit issue, and how green you are.

If the problem is a leak, and if it is a slow leak, one that takes a couple months to reduce the charge, over a two year period it may be cheaper to add R-134a as needed (especially if you have access to a vacuum pump at no additional cost). But if it leaks down in a few days, probably cheaper to fix it in the long (2 years) run.

If you are concerned about releasing R-134a into the atmosphere, get it fixed, or enjoy the summer air.

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Old 05-15-2011, 09:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNW View Post
I just had this problem (compressor not kicking in), the black wire between the A/C clutch and the in-line connector at the A/C unit was broken, I removed the connector and soldered the wires, I got lucky I guess. Also last summer it wasn't blowing as cold as it used to, shop filled the refrigerant and it works OK again.
For sure, A/C systems can be wallet vacuums.... I got lucky I guess.

Any chance you can post a pic of the location of this connector? My AC has voltage everywhere except at the compressor. Sounds like it may be this connector maybe.
Thanks

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Old 05-16-2011, 09:08 AM   #8
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

There is probably a cut out switch. If the system loses the r-134a, it will not let the compressor engage. It's to prevent damage to the compressor.
To do it right, you'd have to get it leak checked, flushed out, purged, the system vacuumed down, and then recharged. Does the Saturn use an orifice tube? Dryer? If so, they should be replaced if the system has lost charge and is at atmospheric, as moisture has been allowed in and that will foul things up. So:
1. Leak check. Replace anything leaking. Leak check again.
2. Remove ot and dryer. Flush out the system.
3. Install new ot and dryer. Purge system. Vacuum and add charge with correct oil amount, as the compressor was flushed out and the oils removed in that process.
4. Run it and see that everything functions and is in spec.
Expensive! to have done. Sorry!

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Old 05-17-2011, 01:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

@Guy in WNY, that makes a lot of sense (not trying to hi-jack the thread but figured it may be related) My 98 has a "sensor" inline with a two wire connector that I know has voltage goig to it but if indeed it is a safety swicth for low R134 then that would indeed cut power to the compressor therefore rendering the AC useless. Looks like Im gonna have to take trip to the shop. No A/C in FL is not an option.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy in WNY View Post
There is probably a cut out switch. If the system loses the r-134a, it will not let the compressor engage. It's to prevent damage to the compressor.
To do it right, you'd have to get it leak checked, flushed out, purged, the system vacuumed down, and then recharged. Does the Saturn use an orifice tube? Dryer? If so, they should be replaced if the system has lost charge and is at atmospheric, as moisture has been allowed in and that will foul things up. So:
1. Leak check. Replace anything leaking. Leak check again.
2. Remove ot and dryer. Flush out the system.
3. Install new ot and dryer. Purge system. Vacuum and add charge with correct oil amount, as the compressor was flushed out and the oils removed in that process.
4. Run it and see that everything functions and is in spec.
Expensive! to have done. Sorry!

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Old 05-17-2011, 06:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

I have an SC1 w/o air, but I did fix a similar issue on my 99 Mustang less than a year ago. I noticed that many of the posts are immediately jumping to the conclusion that you lost pressure... but for less than $50 (on sale) Harbor Freight sells a car a/c gauge set that will allow you to check your low side and high side readings and see if you have any pressure.

In my case, what happened was I used the manifold gauge set and found that when the a/c was turned on (and my compressor did not kick on) that the low side was in the red (high pressure) and the high side, near rad on Mustang, was too low. It turned out that the system had plenty of pressure, what was happening was the compressor wasn't cycling on and forcing freon from low side go high side. After doing a bit of research, I figured that there was a good chance my low side a/c relay switch was bad and changed it (dealer part). My educated guess ended up being accurate and as soon as I replaced the relay the compressor started cycling.

Not sure if this is your problem, but given your explanation... it's definitely worth looking into. In fact, you mention that your system was cooling fine (just like mine) and it seems, all of the sudden, stopped working. That, to me, seems more likely an electrical relay issue than a slow leak. Either way, it's worth checking it with a manifold gauge set and then if you have high pressure on low side... take a close look at your low side relay. There also a relay on the high side as well, but based on your description, you might start with a check of the low side (by the way, you can bypass the relay if you hard wire it... if you don't know how, just Google it).

Good luck.

...
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Old 05-17-2011, 06:22 PM   #11
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

Quote:
Originally Posted by regenoldiii View Post
..... I did fix a similar issue on my 99 Mustang less than a year ago. I noticed that many of the posts are immediately jumping to the conclusion that you lost pressure... but for less than $50 (on sale) Harbor Freight sells a car a/c gauge set that will allow you to check your low side and high side readings and see if you have any pressure.

.... I used the manifold gauge set and found that when the a/c was turned on (and my compressor did not kick on) that the low side was in the red (high pressure) and the high side, near rad on Mustang, was too low. It turned out that the system had plenty of pressure, what was happening was the compressor wasn't cycling on and forcing freon from low side go high side. After doing a bit of research, I figured that there was a good chance my low side a/c relay switch was bad and changed it (dealer part). My educated guess ended up being accurate and as soon as I replaced the relay the compressor started cycling.....
Saturn a/c systems do not have a low side or high side relay. The only relay used here is the main power relay to power the compressor clutch. Saturn refrigeration relies on a thermal expansion valve to control evaporator temperatures - a simple mechanical device to open or close a valve to control liquid feed into the evaporator coils.

While all a/c systems are similar, you seem to describe the opposite pressures where the idle pressures are unusual; low side higher than high side. Are you certain of this? My understanding of vehicle a/c systems are that at rest all pressures are equalized - no pressure differential exists until the compressor runs.

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Old 05-17-2011, 06:31 PM   #12
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

fdryer:

I believe that the sides may have been equalized at rest, but the equalized pressure was in the red on one side and was possibly normal on the other. I'm not an a/c tech, but my understanding was that the compressor cycled the freon from the low side via pressure to the high side and when compressor was actually *working* the low side was actually low (in the black) on mani gauge.

There should always be a relay, but, as I stated, I have a Saturn that was factory ordered w/o air, so I'm not familiar w/ the Saturn/GM a/c system. None-the-less, I did a quick Google and found that Google took me right back to this website (Saturnfans) and someone else mentioned an a/c relay problem. As I said in my reply, I think it's a bit of a jump to move first to a pressure loss issue when the original posting stated that the a/c was "pretty good once it gets going." I will tell you, though, in my Mustang that there was also an erratic idle that accompanied the a/c problem prior to the a/c not working (i.e., the relay was malfunctioning causing the compressor to kick off and on and off and on erratically).

At first I thought it was cycling due to low pressure, but I hooked up one of those Interdynamics electronic freon refill kits (i.e., has simple green, yellow, red, and white lights). I believe it was coming up red for "overfilled" and that was because my low side was too high and my low side was too high due to fact that compressor wasn't cycling. I didn't know that at first until I did some research and bought one of those HF Mani Gauge Sets and got an exact pressure reading. I then realized that the electronic refill gizmo was accurate, and then started looking at whether the compressor was working or not. I believe I may have removed the relay and ran a jumper and when the compressor cycled... I figured I isolated it to the relay. I replace the relay and then, presto, the compressor started cycling and the low side was actually low again.

...
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Last edited by regenoldiii; 05-17-2011 at 06:44 PM..

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Old 05-17-2011, 06:51 PM   #13
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

FYI:

This was from a 2006 posting from "madpogue" on this website (it related to a relay problem):

Quick test. Follow the refrigerant line from the compressor, toward the left side of the car, and around the battery. Just astern of the battery is an electrical connector on the line. Disconnect it and jumper the two pins on the wire connector. Start the car and BRIEFLY turn on the A/C. If the compressor engages, then yeah, your refrigerant has lost pressure. DON'T FORGET to reconnect that connector; that's the pressure sensor that protects the compressor by NOT engaging it when pressure is lost.

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Old 05-17-2011, 08:34 PM   #14
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

I see now.....

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Old 05-18-2011, 10:55 AM   #15
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

I worked in an automotive A/C test lab for a few years, back in the day. We had calorimeters, switch tests, clutch tests, durability tests, vibration tests, and an extensive sound/vibration lab, complete with anechoic and “hemichoic” sound rooms. There were environmental tests as well. My job was to set up new test stands as they came in from the mechanical contractor and assist in building out the new test facilities. What killed us the most were leaks. A system (test stand) couldn’t be declared operational or even fit to run a base line test until it held a vacuum for a week or two. Some of them were real buggers!
While some of the setups used TXV, almost all of them were O/T with a screen, typical GM. We would fit them out with a number of sensors: pressure, temp., relative humidity, rpm, air inlet outlet temps – anything you could think of! All the data went back to the manufacturer to review.
I would take brand new heater, evaporator, blower units, cut them apart back to the evaporator face, make a sheet metal adapter plate and mount it to a box about 2’x2’x3’ and inside the box was a steam injector to control humidity and an electric heater to provide the load. The blower component was mounted next to the evap part and flex duct hooked them to each other. The compressor was on a heavy square tube steel frame with a large electric motor to power it up. Everything monitored and controlled by computers. There were a lot of different test profiles. Some of them went to destruction of the compressor, hence the “durability” part of the test name.
Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of systems malfunction in many different ways. The simpler reasons are usually the correct reasons.
It was a great place to work.
I actually met my wife there!
I have nice memories of the old test lab days….

...
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:29 PM   #16
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy in WNY View Post
The simpler reasons are usually the correct reasons.

x2. I find this is almost always the case. One of the more profound truisms of working on your own car.

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Old 05-19-2011, 08:23 AM   #17
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Arrow Re: A/C System Not Engaging

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vision View Post
I tried to turn on the air conditioning in a 2001 sl today. The A/C has always been pretty good once it gets going. Today punching the a/c button produces nothing. The a/c system wasn't running as there is no noticeable pull off the engine and no cool air. The a/c light is on, the fan blows but the ac isn't running.

What could be causing this? Bad fuse?
The compressor , i believe will not run with less than 1.0 lbs of 134a. So you likely have a leak. If you are not equipped; I highly recomend going to a pro. From what you said about "a/c wasn't as good last year" you likely have a leak.
However, there is the slight possibility that your compressor isn't getting power to it, or working at all. Check for 12v @ the compressor connector. And then, jump the compressor to determine that it is still operating.
BTW: I am a Automotive Technician- some may reffer to me as a pro.
before I went to school and was properly trained, I came to this sight,
I learned alot, knowing what I know now, I would've been a fool to go messing around with A/C freon pressures with out training and equipment.
That being said: FDRYER is a pro also his advice is the trueth backed by experience...I don't know him personally.... I can just tell.

...
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Old 08-08-2013, 07:08 PM   #18
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

On the 2003 L200 does the air condition works through the computer

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Old 08-08-2013, 08:11 PM   #19
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

Yes and no. What are you asking?

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Old 08-08-2013, 08:44 PM   #20
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Default Re: A/C System Not Engaging

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On the 2003 L200 does the air condition works through the computer
first off, nice necrobump..

next, you posted in the S-series section; try the L-series for more/better information.

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