Bad compressor | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

Bad compressor

Discussion in 'HVAC' started by 1997escort, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. 1997escort

    1997escort FEOA Member

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    Hey all,

    Have a 1997 escort sedan. Couple weeks ago it started to squeal and then broke the belt. Mechanic I take my vehicles to says the bearing for the pulley is destroyed and caused the issue and the belt to snap. My question is can you replace just the bearing and be done if the pulley is still good? I don't really want to put a ton of money in this vehicle. I drive it to work and back thats it. Thanks for any and all help.

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  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    You can buy a compressor bypass pulley for about $40, and use the OEM serpentine belt length.

    The bearing in the compressor pulley can only be replaced by pressing it out, which means discharging the a.c system, removing the a.c. compressor from the car - then finding a machine shop that has the right sized support for pushing the old bearing out and the new one in, without distorting the metal plate the pulley spins. It also involves getting the pulley (which has the bearing in it) off of the compressor - a step which takes a couple of tools.

    And with the new bearing in it, the system would need to be flushed, vacuumed, and then recharged. The process of discharging the system involves federal and state laws about not allowing refrigerant to escape. The equipment to do that amounts to a lot of money - which is reasonable if you are in the business anyway.

    I would not go to this much trouble and put a well used compressor back on the car. I would do it I were going to put on a new or rebuilt compressor. I think anybody in this business would also insist on checking out the hoses, and replacing the accumulator/drier with a new one - or refusing to do the work thinking you might be an undercover for the police. (I happen to know a guy who does this.)

    When I had a bearing replaced, the gauge for the press indicated it had gotten to almost 30 tons of urge before the old bearing came out. In that case I wasnt doing it for the purpose of fixing and using the a.c. system, I just didnt want a 20+ year old bearing (that you can not lubricate) being on the car while crossing the US on a multiday drive; or even driving on an interstate going through work zones where there is no shoulder. Since none of my five escorts still have working a.c. systems, and all had those old bearings in the compressor pulley, I removed the compressors and substituted the 'compressor bypass' item that you can buy. I got them from rock(dot)auto for $37. Its a bracket holding a matching (but plastic) pulley that lets me use the original serpentine belt.

    Compressors can also seize up from internal corrosion. I have a friend whose Escort had a compressor with internal crud. A few seconds after the system was turned on, the pulley would come to a halt and snap the serpentine belt - or stall the engine if it were idling.

    Now is a good time of year to get your a.c. system rehabbed. With the cool weather, the HVAC shops might not have a waiting list of customers. Still I would expect it to cost between $800 to $1200 per car.
  3. 1997escort

    1997escort FEOA Member

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    Thats what i was afraid of. Sounds like the bypass is the way to go. The car definatley isn't worth putting that kind of money into a repair. Been a great car, grandpa bought it new. 176k. I appreciate all your help and information.

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  4. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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    $800-$1200!? I'm a mechanic with my A/C license and there is NO WAY that a compressor replacement would cost that much in one of these cars and half the stuff you think is law or required isn't. You only need the license to buy 30lb cylinders and to use a recovery machine, nothing else. Getting the license (section 609) is a simple open book test you take online and costs under $20. You don't flush an A/C system unless you have internal contamination, doing it for anything else is a waste of time and the customer's money. You don't have to replace the dryer if the system never lost charge (we almost never do anyway), and while a visual inspection of hoses is a good idea it's not required. Labor and recharge would probably be $250 or less at my shop.

    I would advise 1997escort to get some estimates. We have replaced compressor pulley bearings in cars before and there is NO WAY that it should take 30tons to remove one. Even a compressor swap shouldn't be that hard or expensive and you will need to have the system recovered and the compressor removed to install a bypass pulley anyway. I also seem to recall that you can bypass the A/C on these cars by simply getting a belt for a model without A/C but it's been a while so I'm not 100% sure on that one.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  5. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I bought a new (not rebuilt) compressor for my 1995LX for less than $100 last year. Around $20 for a receiver/dryer, more for pag oil and r134a. If you don't have AC tools, there is always loaner tools.

    And I am also curious as to why you are interested in fixing your AC in September.
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  6. 1997escort

    1997escort FEOA Member

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    I work in a steel mill and the compressor was locked up. Had to be fixed

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  7. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    You originally said that the clutch bearing was shot. You can buy a new A/C clutch kit on ebay for about $100. It includes a new pulley with bearing, a new clutch cover with spacer washers, and a new field coil which doesn't have to be installed if the old one still works. You can remove and replace the clutch pulley without having to remove the compressor or discharge the system.

    On the 97 and later models, you can also bypass the compressor pulley by simply buying the shorter belt meant for engines without an a/c compressor. There's enough room and it won't touch the compressor.
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  8. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Glad to have the info- personally I would still not care to try extending the life of a compressor that had already needed recharging a couple of time.
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  9. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    You can get a whole new compressor for these cars for about that much money.
  10. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I would be glad to know how many years the a.c. system you fixed continues to work.

    Since I want the a.c to work for a decade or so, I dont think the cheapest is always the best.

    If and when I do get my a.c. fixed, I expect it to be done by a place owned by a member of our extended family in Mexico. A.C. repair is all they do.
  11. Pizzaman5000

    Pizzaman5000 FEOA Donator

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    AC systems really do need their oil changed at least once every couple decades. If it worked previously (I mean all the electrical stuff) then I say go for a repair.
    But budget for a new orifice tube and reciever etc.
    Opening up the system and getting the nasty black goop and God knows what out of it is really important, and it needs to be done legally to open the system at a shop.

    Sometimes and evac and recharge is plenty.
    I would get a new compressor, myself. When it's done, you'll have a new compressor, fresh oil, and 90% of ''gunk" removed.

    I hate heat and humidity, if my ac starts blowing warm, I take the next exit and start tapping on relays! Every escort I have owned briefly lost AC. Corroded or broken connections every time. Swapped out ONE intermittent relay. Fingers crossed!!!
    Went to school for HVAC, don't like it tho.

    If it's just an external clutch, you have a chance of a legal and environmentally friendly repair at home, and you *could* have cold ac when you're done.

    I bypassed my power steering, but my AC is permanent.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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  12. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Even in Ohio, air conditioning is more important than power steering!
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  13. 1997escort

    1997escort FEOA Member

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    I bypassed it. Car isn't worth putting a few hundred into. Needs a few other things that I don't really feel like fooling with. Considering its only worth maybe $800.

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