Compressor Installation Lessons

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On Friday, Northeast Autolab finished up the process of installing the new compressor. The air conditioning works again, blowing nice, dry, cool air. Naturally, this would be the week that the temperatures start to drop… but at least it’s fixed!

Here are some things I have learned in the process of fixing the compressor:

  • To remove or install the compressor, you must remove the drive belt. This is accomplished by moving the alternator, which is mounted on a pivoting arm, thus loosening the belt for removal.
  • To move the alternator, simply loosen the pivot bolt, loosen the adjustment lock bolt, and turn the adjustment bolt. Tightening the adjustment bolt moves the alternator up and tightens the belt. Loosening the adjustment bolt moves the alternator down and loosens the belt.
  • As tempting as it may be, it is not necessary to whack the alternator to get it to move down further.
  • The compressor mounts to the engine block with three bolts. Two of these are fairly easy to get at, one not as easy.
  • There is a plate attached to the old compressor that must be swapped over to the new compressor after the refrigerant has been evacuated.
  • This cannot be done when the new compressor is already mounted. So if you went ahead and mounted the new compressor yourself, the auto repair shop will need to undo everything you did and redo it after they have recharged the system.
  • Luckily, if you have the work done at Northeast Autolabs in Beverly, Massachusetts, they will do very efficient work and not charge too much for the repairs.

Northeast Autolabs also installed some dye in the refrigerant so that if we have any future A/C problems, they can easily look for a leak in the system by using an ultraviolet light.

I am feeling pretty good about my current level of knowledge of car maintenance. I like knowing what exactly is going on under the hood, and I’m glad that I no longer feel the need to just nod and cough up the cash when a repair shop says “Your car needs to have this fixed” and “It’s going to cost this much”. Too many people are under the unfortunate impression that when a mechanic tells gives them a diagnosis and a cost estimate, they have no choice. If I had taken the Camry to the dealer, I could have paid well over $500 just for the factory new compressor they would install, not including labor and the cost of recharging the refrigerant. Instead, I bought a rebuilt compressor (which will be more than sufficient considering the age of my car) for $150, and paid $110 for the labor and refrigerant recharging services.

One thought on “Compressor Installation Lessons

  1. wendy

    Hi,

    I enjoyed reading about your ac compressor. Mine went and I, too, bought a used one. I paid $250 — i like your price better! But today my gas station, where i go for certain repairs, told me it would cost $450 to install and recharge. Are you saying that you paid just $110 for installation and recharging?! I will get further estimates, but i did want to clarify. I have a 2001 civic. Thanks!!

    Reply

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