1999 Ford Taurus 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 69400 miles
I am considering purchasing a 1999 Ford Taurus wagon with 69k miles.
Dealer has advised that the air conditioning isn't working and need to have the compressor replaced. He says this is only a $250 repair.
I called the Ford dealer and they said it could be $300 to $1500. I also called an independent repair shop that is ASE certified and they said that is possible because sometimes when the compressor goes out it can damage other components in the system.
I asked them if they could tell by looking at the car what the repair would be. Both the dealer and the repair shop acted uncertain as to whether they could give me that information before they began the repair.
How do I get an accurate quote on the cost of repairing the air conditioning prior to purchasing the vehicle? (I don't trust the dealer to give me that information.)
Hi debcory. Welcome to the forum. There's a good reason no one is giving you a straight answer. They can't because there is no way to know exactly what will be needed for a proper repair. One shop may give you an estimate for the compressor and recharging the system, then tell you they found other things wrong and the original estimate is out the window. Another shop may not want to risk their reputation for doing quality work but they know if they plan for the unexpected so there are no surprises later except maybe a bill for less than the estimate, they risk losing your business to their competitor who gave you the first estimate.
Some shops will even do you the disservice of doing exactly what you ask them to do, then leave you on your own. Depending on what's wrong with the old compressor, debris could be circulating in the system that will collect in the receiver / drier and plug the filter in it. Most experienced air conditioning mechanics know they don't HAVE to replace the drier but failure to do so as preventive maintenance could mean discharging and recharging the system a second time if it has to be done to make the system work properly. You might not be happy with the added expense of the drier, but most mechanics know that's better than the bigger expense of doing the job a second time. It would not be fair to expect them to do it for free, and they don't want to have to charge you a second time.
Unfortunately there is no way to know what additional parts or service will be needed until the system is working properly. It's not like ordering off a menu from a restaurant with listed prices. I don't know about other states, but here in Wisconsin, every shop uses a uniform system that has the option of specifying the maximum amount you are willing to spend. Once that limit is reached, you must give approval for additional costs, or you are not obligated to pay more than the listed amount. You might inquire if the rules work the same way in your state. That doesn't mean they can give you a definite estimate. It just means there won't be any surprises when you're handed the bill.