1996 Dodge Caravan Replace Compressor?

Tiny
KIRTLAND1836
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 151,000 MILES
Our 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan with 151,000 miles on it recently had the airconditioning compressor fail in such a way that the pully siezed up and the belt started to smoke. A mechanic just disconnected the compressor switch so it does not engage and the failed compressor is still in because it spins freey with a decent bearing when it is not engaged. We were advised not to fix it, becasue the part costs over $600 and because of the failure mode the system needs to be thoroughly flushed before the new one is placed on. Also they said that this repair often snowballs so the total cost could be anywhere between $1000 and $2000, and further it is difficult to completely flush the system, so a repeated failure shorter afterwards is fairly common with a second compressor failure. My question is whether it is really as dire as it sounds? The Minivan is in very good condition otherwise, but it too hot to drive it without AC and with a pregnant wife. Should I repair it or start looking for something newer?
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Saturday, May 31st, 2008 AT 11:34 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
LEGITIMATE007
  • EXPERT
You know, people will start talking about the proper way to do things, but they will be the same people thats taking all of the shortcuts. Let me tell you what I did to my van before I started working here. My compressor had a leak, I went to the junkyard, bought a 20.00 compressor off of a damaged vehicle. Came home unbolted the compressor, gently unscrewed the pressure lines so that the coolant would gently leak out, (threw a towel over it to help absorb the leakage and so that the fumes would not be released into the air). When it was done releasing the coolant I finished taking the hose off, put the compressor that I bought in, hooked the line up and bought some 134a refrigerant from autozone and filled it. This sucker has been ice cold for two years now. What do u think these people are doing when they buy refrigerent from the parts place? Vacuuming their system out and presure checking it and all that? No they are not. I would buy a new compressor have it put on(if you cant' do it yourself) and buy some refrigerant or bring it to one of those shops to fill it up. They will usually vacuum the system out and pressure test it for you. Before refilling it, two hundred doolars or even less or maybe a little more as opposed to whatever those other people(mechanics) are talking about. Sometimes you have to cut corners. And you cant feel guilty about it. Write back if you have any further thoughts or questions
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Saturday, May 31st, 2008 AT 11:48 PM
Tiny
KIRTLAND1836
  • MEMBER
I appreciate your response. I will admit this stuff always makes me wonder a little bit. I have never worked on an AC system before, but I am sure I could figure it all out without too much trouble. I suppose my biggest question is whether anyone has ever paid just to have their system vacuumed out and recharge and done all the work themselves? Also, I am wondering if you could use used forced air to flush the system yourself after the refrigerant has been vacuumed out.
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Monday, June 2nd, 2008 AT 8:50 AM
Tiny
LEGITIMATE007
  • EXPERT
Yes it can be done yourself. Its just that. Those machines that vacuum and refill are expensive. No you cant use forced are there has to be a suction there and it has to be able to be held at a certain amount of pressure to tell if there are any leaks
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Monday, June 2nd, 2008 AT 8:59 AM

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