2001 Mazda Protege Battery Light/Power Loss w/ A/C On

Tiny
SUSANOZ
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 MAZDA PROTEGE
Air Conditioning problem
2001 Mazda Protege 4 cyl Two Wheel Drive 135000 miles

Mazda 2001 Protege DX 4 cyl l.6L automatic. At random, dashboard battery charge light comes on when driving with the air conditioner on in street and highway driving and sounds/feels as if the car is going to loose its power (a/c clutch or belt?). Light and loss of power sound/feel stops when A/C turned off and runs well. Initially thought it was the charging system and replaced components: the alternator, battery, plugs wires and had ignition coil tested. All tested and amp ranges, etc. Were within operable/satisfactory ranges. A/C cools inside of car well. Refrigerant has not been replaced in 3 years; currently on 3rd hot CA summer. Problem reoccurs randomly: Started up and drove 3 blocks, got on freeway and battery light came on after a few minutes, heard a sound (maybe a/c clutch), turned a/c off and continued to drive. Next day, drove 150 miles on freeway, no problems. Following day, problem occurred after street driving for 15 minutes. Retested charging system at a shop w/ battery and alternator showing operating within specified operable ranges. Had belt alternator and a/c belt tension checked and no problems. Not a knowledgeable person in these matters and cringe at pricey repair costs. Any suggestions which parts may be the root cause with the a/c causing this problem before pricey diagnostics or told I need parts that I do not need and/or whole unit vs. A switch or wire. If there is a short in the compressor, a/c clutch or a/c coil will I need just one of these parts or will most shops not bother and replace all? Could refrigerant not being replaced in 3 years be a cause? Any suggestions appreciated. Shops are in business to make money. Don't know if this is too general a question without readings/diagnostics to expect a reasonable specific solution/answer, so please advise. Thank you most kindly.
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Sunday, September 6th, 2009 AT 7:01 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi susanoz,

Thank you for the donation.

You mentioned an abnormal noise which could be belting related and the item most likely to cause this would be a faulty harmonic balancer.

Check if the balancer is faulty. If it is slipping on the main pulley, the alternator charging would be affected and this would affect the engine performance when the charging rate drops.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Monday, September 7th, 2009 AT 10:13 AM
Tiny
SUSANOZ
  • MEMBER
Thanx much. Can you estimate what the range of what a harmonic balancer would the part cost and time of labor for installation, if it is bad. Or is it just an adjustment. Is it something that is hard to get to or laborious in assembly/disassembly.

When they checked my belt tension, the mechanic just basically touched it with his hands to see if it was loose and said that it felt normal.

Have had numerous remanufactured alternators installed within the last 2 years (Pep Boys)--4 to be exact, all under one warrantee, because they have not lasted more than 9 months or so. Several times it took 3 installations per occurrence, until one worked and the final time, they figured out that they needed a Japanese one (Denso). It has been 8 months since that time. Historically as well I have gone through 4 belts (Pep Boys--alt and a/c) that end up screeching. I see on your Mazda Protege forum that this is common to this model car. Because all was under warrantee, I am still dealing with them. Each time, I was told the pullies were ok.

No one has mentioned a harmonic balancer, so I will give them a call and ask to have that checked. By now they cringe and are defensive when they see me coming or hear my voice on the phone. There have been numerous tows at their expense, as well. But I will give it a try.

I note your answer does not address compressor and admittedly I am for the time being a little bit relieved, due to the prices I have researched. My thought before delving into all that, despite the CA hot weather, that I would try to wait and see if this alternator life is extended beyond what I have previously experienced. That is why I am holding my breath to hear the costs of this harmonic balancer.

Much appreciation to you.

Susan Ozols
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, September 7th, 2009 AT 4:50 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
If the harmonic balancer is bad, it would have to be replaced. The tension would feel normal, just that the pulley would be slipping on the main pulley. The easiest way to test would to use a timing light. If the timing mark keeps moving away, the pulley is bad.

The crankpulley is listed at $154.56 with a replacement labor time of 1.0 hour.

Check if the pulley is equipped with harmonic balancer first. Some are not equipped.

I don't believe it is any fault with the AC compressor.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 AT 8:10 AM
Tiny
SUSANOZ
  • MEMBER
Thank you again. I called Pep Boys to see if they could replace a harmonic balancer and was told that if bad that they would have to get the part from a Mazda dealer. Mazda dealer said no harmonic balancer for l.6L 4-cyl engine, only for 2.0L. Mazda dealer stated $350 (crankshaft pulley near what you quoted and 2 hrs. Labor). Will check Pep Boys Wednesday to check with your suggested timing light test to see if pulley is bad first (no charge they said), and go from there. If not bad, back to square one in detecting problem. Was told once, after replacing belts repeatedly when pullies were ok, that perhaps chrankshaft pulley bolt might be old and the reason belts keep breaking. Noticed in forum that belts breaking common and Gates belts recommended rather than Pep Boys. Just a thought, but timing belt is due for changing and wondering if this could also be a cause--just a thought. Limited funds and not sure what to do first, as diagnostics for this and then that are costly with no repairs to date. Very much appreciate your assistance and advice here.

Susan (Ozols)
susanozols@yahoo. Com
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 AT 1:51 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi Susan,

If not equipped with harmonic balancer, that would rule out the possibility of it being the cause. The timing light test might reveal something so no harm doing it.

If belt keeps breaking prematurely, it could be due to the crank and other pulleys being out of alignment or improper adjustment. REcheck if any of the pullies seem wobbly when engine is running, turn AC on and off to check AC pully.

The timing belt should not be related to this problem as it is internal and is not linked to any of the outside components.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 AT 8:43 AM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides