2005 Corolla Air Conditioning

bwbrouwer

New member
I have a 2005 Corolla with 85k miles. I discovered this summer that my air conditioning did not work.

Thinking I only needed a recharge, I took it to a Goodyear station and they said they couldn't do the recharge because my condenser was leaking. They quoted $912 to repair it.

I had my free oil change at the Toyota dealership the next day, so I had them take a look at it. They quoted me $925 so I had them replace the condenser. After waiting hours, they advised me that wasn't the only problem. The clutch was failing to engage. I ended up, two discounted repairs and a total of $1450 later, with not only a new condenser, but a remanufactured clutch/compressor assembly.

I drove home the night the second repair was completed with the A/C running, in 70-degree weather, just for the joy of it. It was crisp and cold and I felt relieved. Minnesota summers can be oppressively humid and hot.

A couple weeks later, I'm finally using the A/C regularly and have noticed that its performance isn't exactly optimal. In the 80s today, in stop-and-go traffic, I was actually better off rolling my windows down than running the A/C. It felt like simply the vent was on. It seems that if I'm not driving at a continuous speed of 55 MPH with my foot on the gas, the A/C is out to lunch.

I've driven this car for the last six summers and I don't recall this being normal. The A/C was always a bit wimpy, but not abysmally so.

I'm curious what recommendations anyone would have about how to proceed. I've had it up to here with the dealership -- from conflicting (verbal) price quotes to parts not actually being in when they told me they were, etc -- and I'm sure they'll be happy to fix it again for another $1000. I'm pretty frustrated.

Seems silly that this is such a mess and the window unit that cools my entire apartment was only $150, brand-new.


 

Spyder

New member
I have a 2005 Corolla with 85k miles. I discovered this summer that my air conditioning did not work.

Thinking I only needed a recharge, I took it to a Goodyear station and they said they couldn't do the recharge because my condenser was leaking. They quoted $912 to repair it.

I had my free oil change at the Toyota dealership the next day, so I had them take a look at it. They quoted me $925 so I had them replace the condenser. After waiting hours, they advised me that wasn't the only problem. The clutch was failing to engage. I ended up, two discounted repairs and a total of $1450 later, with not only a new condenser, but a remanufactured clutch/compressor assembly.

I drove home the night the second repair was completed with the A/C running, in 70-degree weather, just for the joy of it. It was crisp and cold and I felt relieved. Minnesota summers can be oppressively humid and hot.

A couple weeks later, I'm finally using the A/C regularly and have noticed that its performance isn't exactly optimal. In the 80s today, in stop-and-go traffic, I was actually better off rolling my windows down than running the A/C. It felt like simply the vent was on. It seems that if I'm not driving at a continuous speed of 55 MPH with my foot on the gas, the A/C is out to lunch.

I've driven this car for the last six summers and I don't recall this being normal. The A/C was always a bit wimpy, but not abysmally so.

I'm curious what recommendations anyone would have about how to proceed. I've had it up to here with the dealership -- from conflicting (verbal) price quotes to parts not actually being in when they told me they were, etc -- and I'm sure they'll be happy to fix it again for another $1000. I'm pretty frustrated.

Seems silly that this is such a mess and the window unit that cools my entire apartment was only $150, brand-new.
This why I don't deal with garages anymore (if I can at all avoid them), and bought a repair manual and come here instead. My worst experience with them I'm still paying off through the personal loan on my current corolla. The mazda that had $2,000 worth of shoddy, incompetent work from 2 different garages (within a 3 month period) done on it is now rusting in a landfill somewhere. What finally killed the car was when garage number 2 installed the wrong gaskets when replacing the oil pan. The stench of burning oil was a bit of a tip off that they`d screwed it up, and when I brought it back they admitted their mistake and claimed they had now replaced the gaskets with the correct ones. Fair enough. Until the engine blew on the highway shortly after (oil light came on about 1 second before the engine went poof). No oil in the pan at all and it turned out they`d only replaced the bottom gasket. Apparently replacing the top gasket with the right one would have been too time consuming for them. Meanwhile, having admitted their mistake the first time I took it for granted that when they said they`d corrected their mistake, that they`d done just that.

Now I try and avoid them completely and take nothing for granted. I bought the repair manual for my Corolla so that I can do as much myself as I can, and in the event I do have to bring it in for something beyond the scope of my ability or resources, I can use it as a reference to make sure they are only doing work that needs to be done (no unnecessary repairs) and that its been done properly.

Hope someone here can chime in with something helpful - mine`s a 2000 model that I`m still learning about, so all I can do is sympathize as someone who`s been burned by incompetent mechanics before.

 

fishexpo101

I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
Stop and Go traffic will put a heavy load on the engine as well as the cooling system. There might not be enough air passing past the condensor to transfer enough heat out - coupled that with heat soak from the engine and radiator releasing heat into the condensor - you will see poor cooling performance. Condensors are also noteable fragile - all it takes is a chunk of road debris or a large rock to punch a hole in the condensor. Hanging down low and in front of the radiator doesn't help matters either, but it also maximizes its performance. Running the R134a refrigerant also automatically makes even a properly running A/C unit a little "whimpy" - as you typically take a 15%-20% performance hit compared to the old R12 stuff.

But it should still be a noticeable change between ambient temps and max cooling. If it only cools if you keep a steady flow of air going, you might have another problem on hand. As for how to proceed from here, might want to check these out first:

- Open the hood of the car and note if the A/C compressor is turning when you turn on the A/C. The engine idle should also rise slightly as A/C is engaged, part of the idle-up control circuit to keep the idle from dropping too low. The A/C compressor is close to the front/bottom of the car, may be partly shrouded by the bottom splash shield. May be easier to see the compressor if the car is on ramps or the front end jacked up.

- Note if any frost is forming on the A/C lines under the hood. Just like a household A/C unit, A/C performance can be improved if the lines are insulated. Some 9th generation Corolla owners have reported increased cooling performance by running split tube insulation over those pipes that frosted over. May not be the solution in your case, but something to keep in mind.

- Check the A/C receiver sight glass, front of the car, close to the radiator. Look for the aluminum cylinder with a little glass window on top. Might have to clean the window a bit, but by viewing the window while the A/C is running - you can get an idea if the refrigerant level is too low. If there an excessive amount of bubbles/foam running past the window or you don't see anything at all running past it - could be low on refrigerant. If there are a few bubbles running past the window - the charge is probably correct. Note that this is only an approximate measurement - the right way to do it is to measure the high and low pressure sides of the A/C system.

From your description of how the system is working, sounds like it is just either low on refrigerant or the receiver/drier's dessicant is saturated with moisture (too much moisture in the refrigerant = reduced cooling performance/increased likelyhood of interal corrosion).

 

bwbrouwer

New member
Thank you for the specific advice, fishexpo101 --

I took the car back to the shop today and they said the compressor valves are knocking and they recommend replacement. The compressor in question is the remanufactured one they installed two weeks ago.

Since it's a Saturday, the service advisor was unable to verify if there is a warranty on the part -- I made absolutely certain to ask, before buying it, and was told by the other advisor that there was a 12,000 mile warranty, which he assured me was "just like a new part" -- but the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing over there, so they can't do anything more until at least Monday once they're able to talk to the parts people.

 

madar601

New member
Stop and Go traffic will put a heavy load on the engine as well as the cooling system. There might not be enough air passing past the condensor to transfer enough heat out - coupled that with heat soak from the engine and radiator releasing heat into the condensor - you will see poor cooling performance. Condensors are also noteable fragile - all it takes is a chunk of road debris or a large rock to punch a hole in the condensor. Hanging down low and in front of the radiator doesn't help matters either, but it also maximizes its performance. Running the R134a refrigerant also automatically makes even a properly running A/C unit a little "whimpy" - as you typically take a 15%-20% performance hit compared to the old R12 stuff.

But it should still be a noticeable change between ambient temps and max cooling. If it only cools if you keep a steady flow of air going, you might have another problem on hand. As for how to proceed from here, might want to check these out first:

- Open the hood of the car and note if the A/C compressor is turning when you turn on the A/C. The engine idle should also rise slightly as A/C is engaged, part of the idle-up control circuit to keep the idle from dropping too low. The A/C compressor is close to the front/bottom of the car, may be partly shrouded by the bottom splash shield. May be easier to see the compressor if the car is on ramps or the front end jacked up.

- Note if any frost is forming on the A/C lines under the hood. Just like a household A/C unit, A/C performance can be improved if the lines are insulated. Some 9th generation Corolla owners have reported increased cooling performance by running split tube insulation over those pipes that frosted over. May not be the solution in your case, but something to keep in mind.

- Check the A/C receiver sight glass, front of the car, close to the radiator. Look for the aluminum cylinder with a little glass window on top. Might have to clean the window a bit, but by viewing the window while the A/C is running - you can get an idea if the refrigerant level is too low. If there an excessive amount of bubbles/foam running past the window or you don't see anything at all running past it - could be low on refrigerant. If there are a few bubbles running past the window - the charge is probably correct. Note that this is only an approximate measurement - the right way to do it is to measure the high and low pressure sides of the A/C system.

From your description of how the system is working, sounds like it is just either low on refrigerant or the receiver/drier's dessicant is saturated with moisture (too much moisture in the refrigerant = reduced cooling performance/increased likelyhood of interal corrosion).
I never even thought about insulating the lines under the hood! They go right over the engine and they're bare just soaking up the engine heat. What a great idea. I too have pathetic performance in traffic, although the temps have been around 100 around here lately. Had the car back for an A/C checkup and everything comes up "normal". What kind of insulation is recomended? Normal hot water pipe insulation? No chance of fire?

 

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