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Old 06-15-2010, 04:55 PM
 
8,228 posts, read 14,211,900 times
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I have a 97 Chevy S-10 Blazer with 164,000 miles that I love (the S10 Blazer really is the perfect size and truck capable SUV) and want to hang onto if possible.
One problem is the a/c. I think they've tried charging it and maybe something else...uh...simple? Last summer I think they said if whatever they did didn't work they would have to inject dye? and see where it was leaking? something like that. I know that's not to helpful.
Generally I get the idea that it will be hard to fix. I'm hoping forum member here and give me the run down of why its hard to fix and some of the things that may work or not.

Thanks!
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Earth
4,237 posts, read 24,771,717 times
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It sounds like what is happening is your a/c isn't holding refrigerant and it is leaking out. When you have a refrigerant leak, the next thing to do is recharge it and put in a can of UV leak detector, run the a/c as normal to let it leak out again. Then you can shine an ultraviolet light under the hood around the a/c compressor, lines, etc. and see if any bright green spots come up, which pin points where the leaks are.

Once the leak is detected, then and only then can you start figuring up the difficulty and expense required to correct the problem. It can get expensive; I once had a 1997 S-10 that had an issue with a leaky compressor. They ended up replacing everything except the condenser and evaporator. Costed me $900. I'm now buying the tools so I can do my own a/c work.

And if you think that's bad I had a friend with a '95 Blazer that had his a/c work done...long story short the shop told him "this this and this needs placed, cost will be $XXX" No prob...he makes good money, tells them to fix it...well then they call 2 days later "Uh we also found this wrong too...new charge of $XXX" and they already had his truck torn apart...so he says "ok"...well they call again a day later..."we also found this"...after all was said and done he ended up shelling out $2300 to have his a/c fixed. Had he known up front the expense he would have said "to hell with it".
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,007 posts, read 15,416,797 times
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A/C can be very expensive to fix. I know our used car manager at one of the stores I worked at wouldn't even take a car that had A/C issues.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:30 AM
 
6,367 posts, read 16,866,412 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deez Nuttz View Post

Once the leak is detected, then and only then can you start figuring up the difficulty and expense required to correct the problem. It can get expensive; I once had a 1997 S-10 that had an issue with a leaky compressor. They ended up replacing everything except the condenser and evaporator. Costed me $900. I'm now buying the tools so I can do my own a/c work.
If they didn't replace the condenser or evaporator what could have cost $900 to replace? The only A/C items left are the compressor, accumulator, hoses and a $5 orifice tube.

Did you also have electrical problems?
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:20 AM
 
13,811 posts, read 27,433,048 times
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Shops wanted $1200 to replace my a/c in my Jetta. I bought a compressor/drier/expansion valve off ebay for $215 shipped and $10 for the new oil.

Took the car apart, removed the old parts, blew air and solvent thru the lines, and reinstalled the new parts. Took to my local guy to recharge it for $100. So $325 for the a/c. Not bad. Had I bought the equipment (I should have...) recharging would've cost only $18. I think I will buy the gauge set and pump from Harbor Freight next time it's on sale.

FWIW it was done last April and still works great. Cold as ice.
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:53 PM
 
8,228 posts, read 14,211,900 times
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Wish I had your skills. Wish I could remember what they've already replaced in various places. (I moved from Neb 3 years ago where I had a great mechanic, can't find one here so far) so I don't get double tagged. I don't remember the parts/details but I remember a bunch of money. I think the place in Neb looked at fixing it and the place here in Ohio but hadn't gotten to the dye thing yet. I wish they still made the S10 Blazer, the Trailblazers are too big
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:16 PM
 
3,071 posts, read 9,135,150 times
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Some leaks are slow and its more cost efficient to just add a couple of cans of freon at the start of summer...You dont want to spend more than just what it will take to keep you going in a car this old.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Earth
4,237 posts, read 24,771,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gimme3steps View Post
If they didn't replace the condenser or evaporator what could have cost $900 to replace? The only A/C items left are the compressor, accumulator, hoses and a $5 orifice tube.

Did you also have electrical problems?
No electrical problems at all. I think most of the money was labor. That's why now I'm just going to buy my own tools and start doing the work myself.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:48 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 640,980 times
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I think you'd be surprised at just how simple AC repairs can be.

If the AC isn't blowing cold anymore, you've really got nothing to lose by poking around, right? Grab a flashlight, pop the hood, and take a good look around in there. The AC is a closed-loop system; it runs in a circle if you will.

Start by finding the AC compressor. Take a look at the end of the engine with the belt(s) on it. The compressor will be the one with the more complex pulley on it. This is the clutch. You know how you can hear the AC kick on and off (when it's working)? This is the clutch grabbing and engaging the compressor to compress the refrigerant.

The compressor will have a couple hardlines coming off it. Generally, these are like little pipes. They're usually silver in color and you can follow them around the engine bay fairly easily. Often, they can be found running along the firewall below the windshield. If you follow a hardline and end up at a reservoir on the firewall by the steering wheel, you're probably looking at a brake line. Keep looking, you should be able to find the AC lines.

The "freon" is pumped through the system - inside the cabin - to the evaporator. Think of this like your heater core. Only, where the heater works by using engine coolant to heat a radiator over which the air blows to warm you up, the evaporator works by allowing the freon to expand rapidly, absorb heat, and make a radiator really cold over which the air blows to cool you down. (Make sense?) You probably won't have to deal with this part. Let's hope not, anyway.

A tip: It's common for the two AC lines to go through the firewall near the evaporator. You might find them together over towards the passenger side. (They like to stick this sort of equipment under the dashboard, behind the glovebox.)

Once the freon has gone through the evaporator, it then comes back out and goes through the condenser. The condenser will probably look like a second radiator up at the front of the engine bay between the headlights. Take a closer look. It probably won't be as thick as the radiator, but it won't have a radiator cap on it or hoses attached to it. Again, the silver hardlines will be the key. They'll probably meet the condenser over towards the side where the belts are (because it's closer to the compressor).

Now, when you see all the places these lines go, you're going to see places where they can be taken apart. It might look like a block with a single bolt in it. You might also find a couple ports that look like valve stems on tires with caps on them labeled H and L. These are the locations where the system is charged.

Take a good look at any place where these hardlines connect either to each other or to anything else. There are o-ring gaskets in them which can fail over time (over a good, long time). If the leak was substantial enough over a long enough period of time, you might be able to see signs of a leak. If you do, you *this* close to fixing it yourself.

My wife's 98 Isuzu Amigo has a GM-made 3.2L 24V V6 under the hood. She paid $100 to have her AC charged one summer. It was dead within a week. I did the above looking around and found an AC line right up front, driver's side, down towards the bottom of the engine bay, that looked oily and dirty. Sure enough, the o-ring had failed. I paid $4 for a new o-ring, re-installed the hardline, and we had the AC re-charged again. We're into our second year of AC in the Isuzu. Wo0t!

Last summer, I actually re-installed AC in my 92 Mitsubishi. The previous owner had removed it. Thought he was building some kind of race car I guess. I got the hardlines, compressor, and condensor from a local parts car, bought about $20 worth of o-rings from the dealership, a $5 bottle of oil for the AC system (they have different kinds of oil depending on whether you run R12 or R134), and installed the lines.

My local mechanic (where I go for anything I'm too lazy to do myself) pressurized the system with nitrogen - an inert gas - and let it sit for an afternoon. The car didn't leak so much as 1psi. They sucked the nitrogen out, put a proper vacuum on the system, and charged it up with R134 (I converted to R134 because it was cheaper).

I got in my car one day last week and the meat thermometer I keep in the center vents (since I tested the AC last summer) read 170* parked in the sun. Within five minutes, the air through those vents was 45*. Total cost to me? Less than $500 - and I had to buy a lot of parts. If you find that you've got an obvious leak at one of your AC hardlines, it can't hurt to replace the o-ring(s) yourself. Just be sure you have the system properly drained of any remaining refrigerant before you begin. You do *not* want to spring a leak and get any of that on you! (Plus, venting it to atmosphere is irresponsible.)

Longer post, but if you can put together pre-made furniture and hook up a sprinkler to your garden hose, you can do a LOT of the more common repairs to the AC system on your vehicle.

Go fast with class.

EDIT:
You might also consider finding yourself a GM/Chevy truck forum with a Blazer section. The best source of specific technical information is other owners who do things themselves. As a tip, a lot of car forums report the number of members they have and how many of those members have visited in the last 24 hours at the very bottom of the main forum index. It's a good way to find an active community.

Last edited by DR1665; 06-16-2010 at 03:54 PM.. Reason: forum tip
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Pilot Point, TX
7,874 posts, read 14,173,178 times
Reputation: 4819
Good run down DR - don't forget the little gadget that can keep the compressor from turning on - the clutch cycling switch!

That's the switch mounted on the accumulator (the silver tank the big hose - the suction side - runs to). If this switch is ever suspected, you can take a paper clip and "jump" the terminals on the connector, and the compressor will kick on.

Sounds like the OP does have a leak, though.
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