Need help from any GM/Olds experts that know AC - Saturn Sky Forums: Saturn Sky Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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Need help from any GM/Olds experts that know AC

AC in this instance means Air Conditioning.

Brief back story...

My son's first car is a 1995 Cutlass Supreme (3.4L, not a bad lil car... especially for a first car).

He's been pretty good to it so far. He had one incident of misjudging a U-turn, but I am pretty sure my Expy and the wife's Tundra both have a better turning radius than this car! As in... it wasn't completely his fault so we fixed that. Sooo... ~$500-600 to replace all the struts (they were crap anyway), strut bearings/mounts, and the one bent all to hell strut mount. Not to bad when you have a former mechanic (now truck driver) as a brother in law.

It also has new General Altimax tires on it. The previous owner left garbage tires on it. Of course, him playing chicken with a curb wore them down to wires since the alignment was so out of whack! (FYI, the Altimax tires a really good option in the under $100 passenger tire category).

And... the gist of this topic...

The AC leaks. It hasn't worked since we got the car, but that was at the tail end of last summer (heat hasn't been an issue til now). We had him save up his cash for this repair. We got the new compressor and just went ahead and took it to the Toyota dealer today for a bunch of reasons...

- My mechanic brother in law was comfortable with AC work and was worried we would burn up the compressor before we could get it to a shop to get it filled/checked.

- The on base auto shop (the place where we had the leak diagnosed) has a 1.5 week wait for their AC guy. (Summer, go figure)

- My son's birthday is on the 2nd. (so much for THAT surprise)

- The only GM shops near here are full of asshats. The former Pontiac dealer failed to impress or inspire ANY sense that they had a clue the one time I was up there about something for the Sky. The Chevy dealer has been blatantly rude EVERY time we've been by there. Etc...

- Toyota has only had a few glitches here and there and they are slightly overpriced... HOWEVER, they generally fix the friggin problem, AND their customer service has been soooo good that it's enough to make up for it!

Anyway...

We dropped it off yesterday, and I was willing to just pay them their overpriced labor rate (IMHO) to just get the thing working. Well, I get a call about an hour before they close saying that GM and the mechanic that worked on the car highly recommend also replacing the "receiver/drier orifice" because the system has sat dry for so long.

Short version: "We need to order more parts, and it'll end up being $400 more than the initial estimate."

So, this totally set off the "money pit" detector with the wifey, and made me regret going along with taking a GM car to a Toyota dealer.

The only reason I am questioning their recommendation is that when we had the car leak tested at the mechanic base, they said that the only leaking that they saw was at the compressor.

So, I'm just wondering...

1. Are there other parts that we should go ahead and replace while we are at it?

and...

2. How big of a deal is it to charge the thing myself?

It uses the new coolant and it's already leaked out. I read that the proper way is to do a flush, then a vacuum purge/test, then fill it with the new coolant + oil + leak stop + etc...

I saw the big can at wally world today for $30-40... and I was SOOO tempted to just do the crap myself!

Thanks for any inputs!

Be a part of the solution!
and
DFTT
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In fond rememberance... We miss ya' Skip, but we'll never ferget ya! :)
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Last edited by Nova-Exarch; 05-31-2012 at 08:44 AM.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 07:14 AM
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I am unfamiliar with the location of the dryer on that vehicle, however I recently went through some AC woes on my DD avalanche.

I replaced the compressor, and charged it with dye. The freon/dye leaked out of the Evaporator (big silver can under the hood) and that also needed replaced. The shop charged me $60 for the part installed.. However it is located out in the open and is a 15 min job.

As far as other parts, you should have a condenser in the system as well. Perhaps that could need replaced as well.

As far as AC goes, its just as simple as changing anything out. however the hassle people put into harassing shops about it makes many shy away from it.

If you get a used dryer it should not be that hard to do yourself. However again, I have not worked under the hood of an old cutlass, and location is everything.

This may shed some more light on the situation as well:

How to Fix Your Car's Air Conditioner: 7 steps (with pictures)

Goodluck!
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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From that article:

Quote:
The reason for this is that a completely depleted refrigerant system has no pressure to keep air and moisture from coming in through wherever the refrigerant leaked out. Air and moisture are possibly the two biggest enemies of an air conditioning system. The ways in which they can do harm are outside the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that it is NOT ok to have a significant amount of either in the lines. The receiver/dryer unit MUST be replaced in a case like this as you can almost guarantee that it has absorbed enough moisture to be completely useless, and before refilling the system it MUST be evacuated (pulling a vacuum on the system, effectively removing nearly all air and moisture from inside) with the proper equipment
So, looks like Toyota wasn't exaggerating, just following their guidance (good to know, cause I like those guys).

However, the parts they mentioned:

Everco/A/C Accumulator (33134) | 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 6 Cylinders X 3.4L SFI DOHC | AutoZone.com

and

Santech/A/C Orifice Tube (MT0629) | AutoZone.com

Are only $20 a piece (meaning they are like $80-100 a piece after dealer markup )

Too tired to dig further right now... will look more after I can get a nap in

Be a part of the solution!
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DFTT
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In fond rememberance... We miss ya' Skip, but we'll never ferget ya! :)
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Last edited by Nova-Exarch; 05-31-2012 at 08:38 AM.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 10:20 AM
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Veering slightly off your AC fix topic...

Would get your son a nice birthday gift for Saturday and tell him to roll down the windows. Explain that you'll get the AC repaired in due time. My first two cars didn't even have air conditioning, a 1960 Ford Falcon station wagon (6-banger could barely get out of it's own way) and a '67 Mustang 390 V-8 (bunny hopper could barely keep it's rear tires on the ground). How did we survive back in the day?


Good luck whatever you decide to do!

T ~ In hoc signo vinces
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miller11386 View Post
As far as other parts, you should have a condenser in the system as well. Perhaps that could need replaced as well.

If you get a used dryer it should not be that hard to do yourself. However again, I have not worked under the hood of an old cutlass, and location is everything.
Unless damaged the condenser should not need replaced. Also, never swap a used dryer for another used dryer.

As pointed out above, the parts are not expensive, and should be replaced. You could charge the system yourself, but you would need a decent vacuum pump as well as a gauge set at a minimum to complete the task.
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