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Cost to replace a/c in 1997 Impreza Outback Sport


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16 replies to this topic

#1 gbtbag

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 01:29 PM

The air conditioning on my 1997 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport has thrown in the towel.

My mechanic, whom I've always considered very fair, quoted me $700 to fix it or put in a new one (I'm not sure which.)

Is that a good price? The car is running okay. I salvaged it in 2008 after it was struck by two cars trying to avoid each other. They may have avoided each other but they both hit my car when it was parked on the street and I was nowhere near it.

Any advice you can give me about the a/c pricing will be much appreciated.

Thanx.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 03:16 PM

not much we can say about pricing.

i, and many others on this forum, could fix it for $75. $50 tops for any one part that's bad and then $25 to recharge.

i would recommend replacing the part (condensor or compressor most likely) with a used one and recharging. that should run $200 or so, someone on here will have a known good compressor they'll sell you for $50 and they only take 30 minutes to install, really easy. subaru a/c systems are simple, easy to work on, and generally rarely fail so used is a good source here particularly given the age and cost/value of the car. i've replaced countless used compressors and have yet had one fail.

without knowing what's failing - what part is he replacing and why, it's hard to say anything about price. $700 could be total rip off if a 50 cent valve stem seal or oring is leaking (most common failure) or it could be really cheap if he's replacing the entire a/c system (compressor, condensor, evaporator, high pressure hose, low pressure hose..etc). he's not replacing all that, just using that as an example.

#3 gbtbag

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 12:34 PM

Wow. I'm stuck now. Even if I could get the part second-hand I don't know how to install it. I'm sure there are 57-year old women who could but I'm not one of them!

I don't know if I'm allowed to "reach out" to anyone who may be able to help in my area (Los Angeles) but if I can, please consider this as it.

Thanx.

#4 grossgary

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 02:58 AM

a friend of mine recently moved to LA. before he moved he would do work for people on the side. he might be too busy now, but if you want to PM me your contact info I'll let him know.

subaru's are easy to work on for the a/c. the only part that typically needs to be replaced on Subaru's is the compressor. orings and schrader valves (think, like the little doohickey you add air into for your tire) as well.

as a last resort just charge it yourself with those cans of system sealer stuff available at any autoparts stores. if you can add air to a tire, you can do this. for $35 (two cans) it *might* fix it, i always figure that's worth a shot.

1. buy the can(s) of R134a with system sealer at any auto parts store with a hose/gauge already attached ($16)
2. remove screw on cap on the a/c line
3. install the hose attached to the can on the valve (read directions on side of can)
4. squeeze the handle with the engine running

(notice - it requires no tools!)

the guys in the auto parts store will give you pointers if you need any. it might not work, but for $30 it's worth a shot, sometimes they hold. told my buddy to do this to his jeep 3 years ago and it's still holding.

personally i like to replace the two orings where the air hose attaches to the compressor before charging, those are the most likely culprits for leaks. 50 cents worth of orings and that's it. it's also only 1 bolt to remove to replace each one. remove one bolt, install oring, reinstall hose - done in 1 minute. fixed a 2000 forester like this last summer, drove it yesterday and it was nice and cold. doing it to a friends 2002 OBW tomorrow.

*i'll try to remember to take pictures to show you how.

since yours was in an accident there's a possibility of puncture or compromised hoses/condensor as well. was any part of the front of the car involved in the accident?

the a/c worked for 3 years after you got it in 2008?

Edited by grossgary, 03 May 2011 - 03:01 AM.


#5 gbtbag

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 11:35 AM

thank you, gary, for your detailed answers. i'm not sure how to send you a private message but i am happy for you or your friend to email me at critters911@gmail.com

the car is a 1997 and the a/c worked fine until late summer 2010. when i realized it wasn't working i took it into my mechanic, who charged it and it worked for a very short while--maybe a couple of hours. he said it wouldn't last and it didn't. the green light was still coming on when i pressed it until the past couple of weeks.

when my car was totaled, it was hit on the driver's side although mostly at the back. that was in july 2008 and the a/c worked for two more years.

based on the info that it worked for a while after my mechanic charged it, does that indicate the system sealer may work?

i can add air to a tire so i will give it a try.

in the meantime, if your friend is willing to take a look at the car, i'd really appreciate it. and thank you again for your help.

#6 grossgary

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 03:25 PM

personally i really like to replace those two orings on the compressor. the system sealer stuff (might) help, but it might not. those two orings leak often enough that i'd want them replaced before doing this. do you know anyone that could help you? it takes about 5 minutes and you remove literally two bolts, that's it. remove bolt, pull hose, install oring, reinstall bolt. it's really easy. the hardest part is buying a bag of orings and sifting through for one the right size. the auto parts store sells bags of them with various sizes.

did the mechanic diagnose where the leak is coming from? you should *not* get a quote for $700 without them knowing what part is leaking and what they're replacing. how can they quote a price if they don't know what's wrong?

my buddy backed out today because of weather, so we're not doing his today but if we do i'll take pictures.

#7 grossgary

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 03:28 PM

i sent him your email address.

#8 NameTaken

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 07:27 PM

Does anyone have a picture or an explanation of where these O-rings are on the A/C compressor hose? My Subie is having the same problem.

Thanks,

NT

#9 grossgary

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 07:38 PM

look at the compressor - there are two refrigerant lines going to it and each one is held onto the compressor with one 12mm bolt. it doesn't get any easier than this, it's really simple. just go have a peak at it.

#10 NameTaken

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 07:45 PM

If the system is indeed pressurized, won't refrigerant come spraying out at me?

#11 grossgary

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 07:53 PM

If the system is indeed pressurized, won't refrigerant come spraying out at me?

yes - but that means you don't have a leak and would be quite silly to bother about opening it up in the first place.

if it's leaking it should have little pressure, if at all. imagine a leaky balloon - you're window of opportunity of it to retain pressure while leaking is rather small. it's not much different here.

if it's *low* on refrigerant then i'd just recharge it with some of the cans that have the leak sealer stuff in them. in that case then yes you do not want to open it up.

you would need to describe your symptoms to determine what's going on.

#12 NameTaken

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 08:00 PM

SO my heat works fine, blowers work fine, but No A/C. At all. It will blow out air, but not cold air. No noise either.

And, embarrassed to say this, but I can't seem to locate the A/C Compressor in my engine compartment. Where is it/what does it look like?

#13 grossgary

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 08:08 PM

a/c is driven by a serpentine belt. there's two of those on the front of the engine - a/c should be the "right most" - as facing the engine - or drivers side - belt driven component.

i don't know how else to say it quickly, but if you can't find the a/c compressor i'd walk slowly through jumping into something like this. but i'm all about trying new things and attempting something once, this isn't that hard really.

the simple way to see if it's holding any charge is just to press the valve under the cap down quickly. if it's dead and nothing comes out then there's no pressure. if it spews out then it's pressurized. that's the 2 second method of checking for pressure. don't get your head too close!

just follow the two lines off the a/c and eventually you'll see a capped off port on each one - you can "press" the valves under there. you only charge through the low pressure side - but the cans/adapters will only fit that one port, not the other, so you can't really screw it up.

you can google or look on ebay at subaru a/c compressors, get a feel for what they look like and then look at your engine too.

#14 NameTaken

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 08:26 PM

Don't worry about me, I am mechanically inclined :P Found the compressor, duh, didn't know it was right there, found the caps tested the pressure, NOTHING. took the tubes off, shiny new looking black rubber gaskets. I don't think they are the problem. Anythign else I should look at before i run off and grab a can or two of refrigerant?

#15 grossgary

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 09:25 AM

good, glad you found it, i wasn't trying to be a dork just didn't know how comfortable you were around this stuff.

okay - so no pressure, that's a start. definitely won't come on like that.

did you feel the orings? i would replace them for a couple of reasons. a/c orings stay clean and usually look fine, even a little glossy.

if they're old then they're usually not as maleable as they should be for a good seal. they age and get tougher so to speak. new ones are pliable and seal better. at 15 years old, they're due.

if someone else replaced them who knows if they're the right size or even a/c specific orings.

otherwise yeah - just dump in a couple cans of refrigerant and see what happens. one 12 ounce can will easily get the compressor to cycle on, 2 will get it going fairly cold.

if it's dead you most likely have a leak. you could get lucky though and just need to add a can every now and again, like once a summer or something...or never if you're really lucky! cross those fingers and add it! but maybe someone previously disconnected or drained it for some reason, who knows.

if those cans don't hold then i'd go through and replace every oring you can easily access.

compressors can leak too, not sure how common that is though, i've never personally seen that yet.

#16 JEGIII

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 05:19 PM

I did not know the compressor would not work without enough pressure. Bought a can of the sealant/conditioner and a can of freon and charged the system. It's been blowing icy air for the last two weeks now. Less than $50 and about ten minutes beats the heck out of the hundreds to replace major components that always seem to be the problem at the shop. Thanks to all for the info here, always learning something new to keep the Roo on the road.

#17 eppoh

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 07:30 PM

If your mechanic is fair, he probably found that it needs a compressor/and or condensor.

Where was the car hit in the accident? If in front, it is likely the condenser.

Depending on how long the system has been open, you most likely need a drier ($35)

as well.

Condensor is not a difficult job for an experienced DIY'er.

If you are one that sweats changing oil and filter, prolly not a job for you.

Why don't you ask your mechanic what exactly is wrong?




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