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AC compressor noise

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I have a quick question.

Every now and then I get a metallic grinding sound from the engine (3100 V6).

It came back yesterday, and its really loud/not going away.

Engine runs great, and damn near perfect.

I noticed that the AC compressor wheel is spinning properly, but the outer wheel part moves a bit (er, spins kinda, in steps). Im guessing thats the problem?

It sounds like the one in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBiQNgQUJlI

That person says AC clutch bearing going bad. Is that what might be happening to mine?

Is it safe to keep driving with this issue, or can this eventually seize and screw over the belt?

http://www.aa1car.com/library/2003/ic50350.htm

Metallic noises and bearing noise are usually signals that the compressor is about to fail.
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Yeah that's the clutch bearing going. Mine is the same way. The noise annoyed the crap out of me so I just took the a/c belt off. Not gonna need to worry about a/c for a while, so I'll just buy a whole new compressor in the spring.

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I agree with DF.

I once had one catch fire when the bearings failed - so take that belt off.

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I agree with DF.

I once had one catch fire when the bearings failed - so take that belt off.

Er...GM 3.1 single belt design lol.

OK, this is a blessing in disguise. The thing robs power anyways , right? I never use AC, and winters comming.

I did some more reading, and it looks like a bypass will be the way to go.

Either a shorter belt, or removal of AC compressor and replacement with a bypass wheel.

Its just that Im damn short on money. <_<

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Er...GM 3.1 single belt design lol.

OK, this is a blessing in disguise. The thing robs power anyways , right? I never use AC, and winters comming.

I did some more reading, and it looks like a bypass will be the way to go.

Either a shorter belt, or removal of AC compressor and replacement with a bypass wheel.

Its just that Im damn short on money. <_<

As with Camino, I had the compressor in my Caprice catch fire last year. My clutch had went bad, then it blew refrigerant out... since I have a single belt, I just left it be... but I didn't realize that the AC came on when turning on the defog, so I left the defog on too long and the AC burned up. I was able to continue to drive it, but the bearings got so bad it screamed and wobbled noticeably.

The serp belt, IIRC, could not simply bypass the AC with a shorter belt... so I looked into getting a AC delete pulley... but that was 1/3 the price of the compressor... so I bought a compressor and left it disconnected so the clutch would not engage. I would have charged it, but then the Caprice got put in the garage and disassembled as part of my broken bolt odyessey that has been repeated put on the back burner. (I want my garage BACK!!!) ;-)

If your short on money and can life without AC, I would suggest buying a used unit from a pick-a-part... likely cheaper than a AC delete pulley and less hassle then guessing the length of a shorter belt.

Oh, as for robbing power, it only robs power if the clutch is engaged. Just pull the electric connector and that's not an issue.

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Just replaced the AC compressor in our 98 chevy truck. The clutch was locking up as well. GM has a new design on the AC units that is greatly improved over the ones originally in these cars.

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If you're going to have a shop install a bypass pulley or used compressor anyway, see if they would be willing to take the pulley from the used compressor and put it on your current one. Its quite easy to swap the clutches as long as the puller/installer tool is used. Better than discharging an otherwise working system IMO.

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Thank you everyone for the suggestions and input!

Do you think a shorter belt (bypassing the AC) might be the easiest, most cost effective solution?

I have very little money, and the car needs to shine in 2 weeks. Im heading for a fall cruise.

I also just bought new wheels. More on that later :AH-HA_wink: .

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If you plan to use the a/c again, I would suggest getting a used clutch and bearing and having a shop install it. Shouldn't be too expensive.

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Do you think a shorter belt (bypassing the AC) might be the easiest, most cost effective solution?

I don't know how you will make it work is the only thing. The A/C and the P/S pump are pretty much all that keeps the smooth side of the belt in contact w/ the water pump. Bypassing the A/C looks like it would also route the belt away from the W/P.

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I have a 1999 Dodge Stratus 2.4 inline 4. and myy AC compressor went out a week ago and I reparied it. I decided to go with the bypass belt till I could find time to buy a new compressor intall it and recharge the AC system. If you are going to use a bypass Belt you have two options to do this. One, go to your local auto parts store and see if your car could be ordered without an AC. IF it could be ordered without an AC, buy the recommended Belt and that should work. If not, you will have to do what I did. Take a flat tape measure, the type a tailor's use for clothes and put it around the desired pulleys you want the new belt to go on. Then get your measurement, rember to hold the tape measure tight against the pulleys. Then what I did was buy 3 different size belts. One that was my desired measurment, One a little smaller and One a little bigger. I ended up using the one a little smaller and then after I installed it I returned the other 2 belts. Also, when you go to the auto parts store, not all Belts are listed by thier lenghts. Usually only the premuim brands are listed by thier lenghts. For me, I went to Pep Boys and they had no brand listed by length. So I went to Kragen ( I live in Nor Cal ) and they carried a cheap brand and thier premium Gates brand listed by lenght.

Now it has been 3 weeks since I completed my repair and I miss my AC. Defrosting in the morining takes about 2 minutes longer and the car gets stuffy once and a while. I am going to reapir my car in the next upcoming weekend.

Also, I went to Midas and they wanted 550 for a new AC 250 , intall AC, New Belt, and AC charge. I went to another shop and they were about the same. I live in Cali though so labor is more her

Edited by NEXTEL CUP
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Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions.

Im getting a bit worried though.

I havn't driven the car since Friday, and I threw my back out this week...so Im in pain and haven't gone to the mechanics yet.

I went and started the Achieva today. It runs fine except for the grinding metal noise, but I noticed puffy white smoke from the exhaust.

On top of that, there is a light black trail on the hood liner above the belt (water pump squirting? this happened on my moms Lumina).

I also noticed some..er..water dripping from the muffler. Not from the tip, but from the body of the muffler itself. Thought that was odd. Don't know if there is a pinhole leak or is it condensation (!?).

And then there is a small leak under the engine. Looks like oil. I was assured on my last oil change that nothing is leaking. Could this be related to the AC clutch?

The clutch is supposed to spin when the AC is on, right? Because its not doing so.

Im not super mechanicaly inclined and also have very little money to spend on repairs.

The car has been perfect for the last 10,000 KM (6213 Miles). On the last trip (Fri...120 Miles), it ran flawlessly.

I just bought new wheels for it, and was planning to throw em on, and go on a big fall cruise October 25th. Kinda a season finale. Now Im a bit worried. :unsure:

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I went and started the Achieva today. It runs fine except for the grinding metal noise, but I noticed puffy white smoke from the exhaust.

On top of that, there is a light black trail on the hood liner above the belt (water pump squirting? this happened on my moms Lumina).

I also noticed some..er..water dripping from the muffler. Not from the tip, but from the body of the muffler itself. Thought that was odd. Don't know if there is a pinhole leak or is it condensation (!?).

Likely condensation. Let it run for a bit... in the cold, it can take a while to cook off. Assuming you have coolant in the radiator, your exhaust would smell sweet if you were burning coolant. Also, there may have been condensation on the outside of the muffler... and the exhaust vibrations are jostling the drops off. Obviously worth a closer look.

And then there is a small leak under the engine. Looks like oil. I was assured on my last oil change that nothing is leaking. Could this be related to the AC clutch?

I would doubt it. There is only a small amount of lubrication in the AC system... the R134a (or R12) would escape into the air, generally leaving the oil pooled in the bottom of the system... of course, if your AC compressor is the bottom of the system...

Of course, when my AC clutch went bad, it was accompanied by the loss of a seal. I've never taken the AC clutch off, so I'm not certain how they are interconnected. That said, with the system fully pressurized, the coolant and oil that sprayed out left a bit of a mess. Of course, I'm sure more clutches and seals don't happen to go bad as one is topping off the system (I didn't overfill it, I know that for certain).

The clutch is supposed to spin when the AC is on, right? Because its not doing so.

Im not super mechanicaly inclined and also have very little money to spend on repairs.

The pulley will spin intermittently as pressure is needed. If the pressure exceeds a certain threshold, it will cut out. Also, if the pressure stays low too long, it will cut out to protect the compressor from burning out. I would run the car and watch it while someone else turns on the AC. Failing that, I would check for voltage on the clutch wiring connector.

I thought you were mostly concerned about a noise? Does (or has) your AC work at all? Obviously, it wouldn't if the pulley is not spinning at all.

Keep in mind that a system with low refrigerant actually runs COLDER than a system that is properly filled... which helps give the impression that the system died suddenly when the refrigerant is slowly leaking. Its just that the refrigerant finally hit a point where not enough is left to run the compressor. This is what happened right before my AC compressor and clutch went seriously bad.

Anyway, as for not being super mechanically inclined and not having the money for repairs, one tends to feed into the other. Necessity being the mother of invention, or in the case, mechanically-inclined-ness. IMHO, a big part of being mechanically inclined involves having a "can do" attitude, and one mechanic victory feeds into another. By removing the professional mechanic from the equation, in many cases you have three times the buying power to buy more parts for other repair projects.

And you have a nice little support group here. Good luck.

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Thanks SAmadei!

The AC worked when I bought the car in June '08. Since then, I have never really used it. Love to drop the windows. I never paid attention to the AC compressor. I did have the belt, water pump and alternator replaced last year (as well as a new battery). The lower intake gasket was replaced earlier this year. This is why Im a little paranoid of seemingly little issues. My family and a few friends think Im crazy to spend money on this car. My aunt would love to see me lease a Hyundai!

I noticed this noise around July, but it would show up briefly, and go away. I figured it was a bit of debris on the belt or pulleys as I drive alot (and sometimes not on the best roads).

I was reading elsewhere that a bit of WD40 and some sandpaper might loosen any rust or dirt between the pulley and clutch (that could cause the noise). I will give that a shot and see what happends.

Im just trying to get some imput before I do anything. Like I said, I have not driven the car since last Friday. Im not taking any risks. And yeah, my back is sore as f**k. I lifted something heavy without stretching. Just to make life more enjoyable.

Once again, I really appreciate all the feedback! :thumbsup:

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The A/C on that car should kick in and stay engaged so long as the temp is about 40°F or above.

The oil could be the front seal going on the compressor as well. That would usually leave a very fine mist spread about by the belt, and an oily, dirty film deposited around the A/C clutch.

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I have not had it to the mechanics yet, but I did play with the problem a bit.

Im fresh out of WD-40, so I got some water, and cleaned up the belt and pulleys.

The noise went away almost completely. After driving for 5 minutes, the noise was gone.

Today, the noise came back....but, after a half hour of driving went away again.

lol?

7323_154344044169_518014169_2527620_3018

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