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A/C Issue on 2002 Impreza


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#1 stackman1

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 05:12 PM

I have a 2002 OBS and when I went to use the a/c last summer it only worked for first 5 minutes or so - took it to dealer and they charged but then told me the compressor was shot and I was looking at $1,000. So I decided it was time to start doing more or at least learning more. Got some good jack stands - changed my oil etc but since I am headed to Florida for the summer I need to figure this out. Can't pay that kind of money.

Watched some videos and realized the first thing I need to do is buy a manifold gauge set. Should arrive this week. The system has a charge and the compressor clutch is engaged or at least spinning. But like I said it blows cold for the first few minutes only. It isn't real hot here yet on Long Island.  When I turn on the a/c the vent thermometer takes it from 80 to 60 but then it fades back to 70  pretty quick.  The high pressure line out of the compressor going into the condenser gets hot like I assume it should - at first - but after about 5 minutes it is just warm.  The low pressure line going into the firewall is fairly cool but actually feels colder coming out???? Bad Evaporator?

Then when I went under the car it appears like the boot on my axle arm is torn under the driver side and sprayed grease everywhere....beautiful.  Don't know how much that will cost.

And to top it off - when I was putting the guard back on top of my drive belts... the back plate(?) that takes the bolt that keeps my guard tight dropped into the engine area and can't find it.  Black hole I guess.

Great day - all in all.   :)

 



#2 stackman1

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 06:23 AM

Ok.  So my gauges arrived yesterday.   I hooked them up but before I turned the car on the Low Side read ~65psi; High Side ~ 65psi. Then I turned on car and ran the a/c. The High Side briefly spiked to 100psi but then settled back at 60 psi after 5 minutes or so. However, the low side went from 65psi to negative 30psi! It isn't hot here on Long Island, I was probably doing this when it was about 70 degrees.  I'm not too mechanical but have done lots of reading and seen diagrams and videos, so I think I understand basically how the system works.  It would be appreciated if someone could tell me if I'm think about this correctly.

  • When I hooked up the gauges - but before I turned the car on - the gauges showed readings of ~ 65psi.  Does that mean the system has some refrigerant (I kind of know it does because the a/c blows cold briefly) but if it was empty wouldn't I see Zero PSI?
  • After letting it run for 5 minutes and seeing a negative 30 psi - wouldn't that indicate the compressor was working at least in the sense it created a vacuum on the low side? 

The thing that troubles me is that the dealer claims they fully charged it but discovered the compressor was bad.  The charge had no affect because when I picked it up that night - it still only gives 5 minutes of cool.  The compressor appears to be engaged and spinning and sounds like it is working.  I just want to make sure that it is truly the compressor.

  • So would the next step be to top it off with refrigerant and use a dye to see where it might be leaking or is there a way to directly test the compressor?

Thanks



#3 Rooster2

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 06:44 AM

So would the next step be to top it off with refrigerant and use a dye to see where it might be leaking or is there a way to directly test the
compressor?.............imo, this is the next step to take. It sound like your A/C system is low on refrigerant. I have experienced this in the past, and found that charging up the system fixed the problem, and, or points out that
when charging the system produces cold A/C, then it is likely that a bad O ring(s) will allow your refrigerant to leak out.

 

Hope these thoughts help.



#4 stackman1

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 08:28 AM

Thanks rooster.  That's what I'll do.  Let you know.....



#5 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 09:11 AM

confirm that the rad fans are working.
 
read here;http://www.subaruout...nutes-less.html

#6 Fairtax4me

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 11:29 AM

It has some refrigerant, but nowhere near enough.

You should have idle system pressure of around 100-120 psi. Low side should be 30-35psi when running. High side should be around 180-200 IIRC.

The bigger deal will be to find the source of the leak. It doesn't sound like the system has ever been totally empty so moisture in the system is probably not an issue.

Check all of the o-rings where the lines join, and where theyre boltsd to the compressor, condenser, Drier canister, and evaporator. Also remove the grille and check the lower corners of the condenser. Get a can of leak detector dye if you can't see an obvious leak.

#7 stackman1

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 03:22 PM

FairTax - I saw your discussion with Gary about the o-rings - where did you end up buying yours - Napa?  



#8 Fairtax4me

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 05:19 PM

Still haven't bough them actually. That got moved to the bottom of the list behind Mother's Day, and my grand mothers, mothers, and girlfriends birthday in 2 weeks (all on the same day!), so I need to spend wisely until after that.
I did see an o-ring kit at Advance the other day that looked like it had maybe 20 o-rings for about the same price as the kit at Napa. Ill probably end up getting the kit at Napa though since, in general, Quality trumps Quantity.

#9 grossgary

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 08:27 AM

the generic packs of orings at any auto parts stores will have two orings that fit the lines at the compressor.  or just measure and match them up or call subaru or look the parts up online via opposed forces.  lots of options.

 

1. replace those two orings (one bolt - it's super easy). 

2. add two cans (20-24 ounces) of refrigerant yourself and you're done. 

 

the radiator cross support, or somewhere under the hood will tell how much refrigerant yours takes - legacy's/outbacks and i think impreza's as well - i've always just used two cans and it's perfect.

 

i have gauges and didn't even used them on my 3 daily drivers i did this exact repair to many years/miles ago.  very easy and costs $15.  but of course you're just getting your feet wet and have them, so best to use them.



#10 stackman1

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:05 AM

Thanks Gary.  My 2002 OBS takes 16-19 oz per the cross support.  Will pick up the o-rings at Napa. Been reading a lot of threads from different websites, videos etc.  Then going to my car and cross checking what I have.  I have two questions, keep in mind I have a 2002 Impreza Outback Sport:

  1. I don't see the receiver/drier.  I have a Haynes manual 2000-2006 for the Legacy/Forester series - they show it in the Engine area.  Is it in the dash with the Evaporator or am I just losing it - I don't see it in the engine area?
  2. Is this the Orifice Valve (see link) - It doesn't look like the expansion valve others point to.....

https://www.dropbox....ifice Valve.jpg



#11 stackman1

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 03:59 PM

Did a little more digging and ran across this thread.  It is for a WRX but same model year as mine.  This guy had stop and go a/c problems and determined it was the expansion valve (which I assume is the same thing as the orifice tube).  My pic was not the expansion valve - it is behind the dash.  Worth a look.  He took lots of pics and explains how to get at it via the glove box with great pics....just thought I would share:

 

http://www.clubwrx.n...eed-c-help.html



#12 stackman1

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 04:13 PM

In the thread I posted the guy bought his new expansion valve at a dealership.  He said he got a discount and it cost $85 - I went on partsgeek.com and here are the ones listed for my 2002 Impreza sport.

 

http://www.partsgeek...sion_valve.html

 

Is it unwise to use aftermarket parts?  I am willing to pay up if that is the consensus.  But they are only selling for $15 online.......

 

I'm kind of asking also because I need to replace my two drive belts, air filter etc......do you guys stay away from dealer parts or use them?



#13 Fairtax4me

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 07:03 PM

These expansion valves practically never fail. If his was "bad" it was probably freezing because of moisture in the system. You can replace it if you want. Me, I wouldn't bother. Too much work to get to.

DO replace the drier. That's what pulls any moisture in the system out of the refrigerant before it gets to the expansion valve. Once its saturated it doesn't work anymore and there's no easy way to get the moisture out.

Belts, hoses, air filters don't need to come from a dealer. But the dealer parts are much better quality than parts store cheapo belts and hoses (especially the ones you have to cut). Dealer hoses, you just put them on. Cheapo parts store hoses you have to trim one end or the other or both to make them fit, and they still don't always fit right because the mould shape is wrong.

Edited by Fairtax4me, 14 May 2014 - 07:10 PM.


#14 Rooster2

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 07:04 PM

Dealer parts are always high quality, but expensive. Some things like head gaskets, I buy from dealer only. Parts Geek is a reputable company. I would trust that their expansion valve for $15 would be good.



#15 stackman1

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 09:05 PM

These expansion valves practically never fail. If his was "bad" it was probably freezing because of moisture in the system. You can replace it if you want. Me, I wouldn't bother. Too much work to get to.

DO replace the drier. That's what pulls any moisture in the system out of the refrigerant before it gets to the expansion valve. Once its saturated it doesn't work anymore and there's no easy way to get the moisture out.

Belts, hoses, air filters don't need to come from a dealer. But the dealer parts are much better quality than parts store cheapo belts and hoses (especially the ones you have to cut). Dealer hoses, you just put them on. Cheapo parts store hoses you have to trim one end or the other or both to make them fit, and they still don't always fit right because the mould shape is wrong.

 

I have had trouble locating the receiver/dryer.  I'm not the only one from the 2001-2 period apparently.......

There is a silver cylinder running the full length of the right side of my condenser. It is about 1.5" in diameter. I am hoping this is it - might take pic in morning. I read that in the 2001-2002 time period Subaru moved the receiver/dryer from inside of the condenser to the outside. I bought my 2002 in August of 2001 - go figure. It seems like a pretty lengthy tube....unlike the more squat soda cans types.  I would replace it if that is in fact it..



#16 Fairtax4me

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:42 PM

Does look like they moved it in the early 2000 years.

Rockauto lists a few of these: http://www.rockauto....7828&cc=1378751
Had to look up an 03 model.
Pictures of the condenser show the drier is on the side of the condenser.
http://www.rockauto....9009&cc=1378751

Before that it was bolted to the side of the strut tower.
http://opposedforces...illustration_1/

Edited by Fairtax4me, 14 May 2014 - 10:50 PM.


#17 stackman1

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 08:50 AM

Fair Tax -

 

I got a better look at it this morning.  My 2002 has the drier cylinder integrated into the condenser.  It is external but it is part of the condenser - can't be removed - would have to replace the entire condenser.  This pic shows the bottom of the cylinder - there are no lines in and out their are welded ports into the condenser every few inches up the cylinder.  

 

https://www.dropbox....5 09.40.20.jpg 



#18 stackman1

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:03 AM

Think I will just replace the compressor o-rings, buy a vacuum pump and evacuate, recharge (maybe with some dye) and hope for the best.  I do have a pretty strong feeling that a big part of my problem is moisture; think I am getting icing.I don't suppose the vacuum pump would do anything to fix a saturated receiver/dryer?  

 

Also, can you see the dye should it leak or do you really need an IV light?



#19 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:54 AM

even with the light, it's a little tricky but, it works. best to clean everything first if possible. swing by the diy car wash and do an engine clean.

 

your plan is similar to what I did, wish I had swapped the schrader valve guts, but so far, it's holding. been looking for quality metal, or0ring sealed port caps. i think that would be a good back-up for questionable valves. no luck so far.

 

you can rent/borrow vacuum pumps from some parts stores, maybe if you let it run overnight it could pull out some moisture??? just a guess.



#20 stackman1

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 11:28 AM

Is there a good off the shelf liquid/spray for cleaning fittings/bolts/nuts etc before putting a wrench to them? Some of my parts are pretty crusted....



#21 Fairtax4me

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 03:44 PM

been looking for quality metal, or0ring sealed port caps. i think that would be a good back-up for questionable valves. no luck so far.


The caps normally have a rubber seal in them. If yours are gone just find a suitable sized AC o-ring to fit in the cap.
Napa has JRA style service port valves for only a couple dollars each. But you do need the special tool to remove and install them which is like $10. Needle nose pliers will ruin them.

#22 Fairtax4me

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:34 PM

Is there a good off the shelf liquid/spray for cleaning fittings/bolts/nuts etc before putting a wrench to them? Some of my parts are pretty crusted....


I just use a wire brush and some brake cleaner if they're really cruddy.

As for the drier, are you sure its built into the condenser? Not next to it or around in front of it? Car designers find creative ways to hide things under the hood.
I'm curious to know in case I run into this issue in the future.

#23 stackman1

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 08:03 PM

If I could figure out how to get the front off I would take a pic.  Maybe I will try and take a photo from the back and above; its tough with the radiotor.  If you click on the pic above you can see the cylinder (receiver/dryer) is external to the condenser but unlike the recent models - the top nor the bottom of the cylinder have ports for to accept piping (the pic was taken from the front - my drier is on the passenger side of the condenser).  My High and low pressure pipes leave and enter from the driver side of the condenser - closer to the compressor.  

 

From what I can tell every couple of inches there are welded openings between the drier and condenser but it is all one piece.  It sounds like I got the model condenser right before the driers became replaceable.  Is it easy to get at the front of the condenser?  I would like to do it for myself.....



#24 Fairtax4me

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 08:53 PM

On the older cars all you do is pop the grille off and you can see the whole thing. Not sure on 2000+ models, though I assume the grille is still pretty easy to remove.

I've looked through the FSM for 02 Impreza and they don't show a drier or anything that looks even remotely like it in the AC diagram, and no mention of it in the service procedures (removal/installation instructions).
The closest thing I can find in the totally unclear black and white drawings they provide is a cylinder on the right side that looks like it hangs from the top of the condenser.

The pic you posted above just looks like the end-tank. The end- tank is what the core tubes are welded to.
There are some that have larger diameter end tanks for whatever reason. I think it has to do with flow through the core.

#25 stackman1

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 08:54 AM

On the older cars all you do is pop the grille off and you can see the whole thing. Not sure on 2000+ models, though I assume the grille is still pretty easy to remove.

I've looked through the FSM for 02 Impreza and they don't show a drier or anything that looks even remotely like it in the AC diagram, and no mention of it in the service procedures (removal/installation instructions).
The closest thing I can find in the totally unclear black and white drawings they provide is a cylinder on the right side that looks like it hangs from the top of the condenser.

The pic you posted above just looks like the end-tank. The end- tank is what the core tubes are welded to.
There are some that have larger diameter end tanks for whatever reason. I think it has to do with flow through the core.

What you say makes sense about it being a welded end-tank and not a drier.  So where is the stupid drier   :))    Look at the two pics.  It appears all I have to get part of grille off is to work those 4 tabs?  I have a terrible habit of breaking stuff do I use a screwdriver to push the 'tab'  in the hole down.  It is pretty plastic - afraid of using too much force but is that the technique?  Once it is off I will gladly send you a pic of what a 2002 Impreza Outback Sport purchased in August of 2001 looks like......

 

https://www.dropbox....w/front end.jpg

 

https://www.dropbox....t3sy3kx/Tab.jpg






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