2002 Volvo S60 Unreliable Air Conditioner

Tiny
BESTAIMEE
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 VOLVO S60
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 190,000 MILES
My AC works great! But only for about 15 minutes, then the air continues to blow but it is no longer cold. If it rests for 20 min or so (if I pop into a store), it will again blow cold for a while but stale warm air will then take over. If I drive w/out AC in the Tx heat for 12-15 min, then turn it on it will still blow cold air for about 10-15 minutes, so I don't think it's the heat from the engine causing this. I took it to my mechanic who claims he ran the car in his garage for more than an hour and it blew cold air the entire time. Since he couldn't replicate my experience he did nothing. I plan to have him drive the car when I drop it off next, but would like to see if I can at least point him in the right direction in terms of what could be wrong. This is my 4th Volvo and I remember that the AC on my old 740 used to do the same on long trips, but only after 2+ hours of driving. Could this be a structural flaw w/Volvo ACs? Thank you!
-Aimee

PS: I think it's a 5 cylinder but there wasn't an option for that.
-A.
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Friday, June 11th, 2010 AT 9:13 AM

2 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi bestaimee. Welcome to the forum. There's two possibilities. Since this seems to occur with regularity, suspect the system is over-cooling. It is only supposed to lower air temperature about 20 degrees. The real comfort comes from lowering the humidity. The moisture in the air condenses on the evaporator in the dash and is supposed to drip into a drain pan and onto the ground. The flow of refrigerant is regulated so the evaporator never gets colder than around 40 degrees. If it gets too cold, the water condensation will freeze into a block of ice that blocks air flow. The ice will melt when the system is turned off for a while. If this is what's happening, the problem may not show up if you set the temperature higher. You can also stick a thermometer in one of the ducts. If the air temperature gets down to 40 - 45 degrees, it's too cold. The cause is likely to be a mispositioned temperature sensor on the evaporator that isn't making good contact so it is allowing too much refrigerant to enter. When it starts blowing warm air, look under the hood at the hoses. If one of them has ice on it, too much cooling is taking place. The same ice will be found inside the car.

Another possibility is the valve that controls how much refrigerant enters the evaporator is sticking. They can stick open and allow too much refrigerant to enter which results in over-cooling, or they can close in response to normal operation, then stick and fail to open when it's time to circulate more refrigerant. This is less likely to be your problem because while it is an intermittent problem, it will not occur on such a regular basis. The valve could work properly for days or weeks before it acts up.

The system could be low on charge too. As the low side pressure drops, a low pressure cutout switch turns the compressor off to avoid potentially drawing air into the system through a leak. The moisture from the humidity that could enter the system would mix with the remaining refrigerant to cause corrosion to metal parts. When the system is low on refrigerant, the cooling usually doesn't stop completely. The air temperature typically rises slowly and you can feel the increase in humidity.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, June 11th, 2010 AT 10:23 AM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
The A/C clutch is worn out. And your mechanic will never duplicate your problem by just letting it sit on idle in the garage. He will need to take it for a drive so that the heat will cause the magnetic clutch to release. Once that happens he will need to probe for power. If there is power then you now know the clutch is bad. He can also try checking the clearance. Spec is 0.3mm to 0.5mm max. The clutch is replaceable but you may want to compare prices as to how much the clutch repair is vs. The whole compressor? Either way the compressor needs to come out to do the repair. Good luck and keep me posted.
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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 AT 3:12 AM

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