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2003 A/c Clutch Issue?


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#1 gschwell

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 03:23 PM

Hi All,
The A/C on our 2003 Corolla has been getting warmer lately. I decided to try and recharge it myself. I think I followed the directions, and brought it to about 50 PSI at 90 degrees ambient. This didn't seem to help. I then noticed that the clutch in the compressor is not staying engaged for very long. It makes the clicking sound, and engages, but then disengages after a few seconds. Then after a few more seconds it will click and engage, then quickly disengage again. Could this be a sign of a bad clutch?
Thanks,
Garth

#2 Larry Roll

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 03:52 PM

It could be the A/C clutch cycle relay. Here's what I've found so far: http://wiki.answers....istribution_box

#3 gschwell

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 04:03 PM

I tried swapping the horn and A/C relays, but it didn't make a difference.

#4 fishexpo101

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 10:47 AM

Could be a number of reasons why it is not staying engaged. Since you already checked the relay - might be either a bad clutch (intermittent electrical) or improper charge on the unit (you can only check the low side with those recharge kits - need a dual manifold to properly check the refrigerant levels).

Question - how low was the refrigerant before you charged it? Was it a little low, or very low? Made sure to was the R134a refrigerant - as some shops may accidentally have older, non-compatible stock still on the shelves?

#5 gschwell

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 01:27 PM

The refrigerant was not very low. The odd thing about the a/c is that it works fine when driving on the highway, we drove for 7 hours in humid mid 80's and the car stayed plenty cool with the fan on low. The problem seems to be when idling or stop and go driving, this is when the clutch seems to disengage and the fans just blows unconditioned air.

#6 fishexpo101

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 01:45 PM

Since it seems to work at speed and not at idle - could be pointing to a condenser or evap coil issue. Your 9th gen Corolla is equipped with a cabin air filter - did you double check to make sure it wasn't clogged / still in good shape? A clogged cabin filter can cause the evap coil to freeze solid / impeded air flow. Same with clogged fins on the outside condenser - if they have debris clogging the fins, the fans will not be able to pull enough air past them. At speeds, you have enough air flow to pull heat off the condenser.

Also possible that the clutch on the compressor is slowly dying. Low RPMs might not generate enough centrifical force to expand and engage (assuming electronics work). You can try to fast idle / rev the motor for a short time, while stopped to see if compressor fully engages.

#7 fishexpo101

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 01:48 PM

I'll also add that some people saw an excessive amount of condensation forming on the A/C piping under the hood - even with a full charge. If this is your case, might benefit by insulating those exposed hard pipes with regular pipe insulation. The stuff they have at home improvement stores - generally split into two halves - just cut to fit, couple of zip-ties to hold it together.

Many 9th gen owners that did this mod saw significant A/C performance improvements at low speeds or at idle. Might be something to try out if everything else seems to be fully functional.

#8 gschwell

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:41 AM

I'm guessing the clutch might be dying. I'm not sure if I can post a link, but here is a short video of the compressor running with ac and fan on high.

http://db.tt/oss3jz7y

The cabin filter was little mucky, but not too bad, and the air blows hard thriugh the vents.

It does seem a little odd they don't insulate the supply pipes, but I guess efficiency isn't a concern there.

#9 fishexpo101

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 09:01 AM

Thanks for uploading the video - it is very clear and well framed. Definitely looking like a clutch (mechanical or electrical) issue. Should not be cycling on and off that quickly/often. If refrigerant pressure is too high/low - the compressor will do that to protect itself. Could be an internal issue - faulty pressure valve that is causing the compressor to short cycle like that. Might be time to bring it to an HVAC specialist - could a case of just drying the refrigerant and adding more oil. Hard to say without running a Toyota scanner to manual cycle the compressor and see what it reporting, as well as looking at the high/low pressures with a service quality manifold gauges.

#10 gschwell

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 06:34 AM

Thanks for the help. I took it to a shop who evacuated and refilled the system, which fixed the issue. The clutch stays engaged now and the A/C works great.