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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This last weekend I was backroading and ended up dropping the front end into a massive water hole with water coming up over my hood. We were stuck for about 10 minutes, with the pulleys completely submerged the whole time, until we were able to rock ourselves out of the hole (drivers side rear tire was more than 3 feet off of the ground and we were in every way stuck, but 4 wheel drive and some crafty passengers shifting all of their weight into the high corner finally got us out).

I started having a bunch of engine noise and traced it to the serpentine belt/pulleys. After replacing the serpentine belt yesterday, all of the loudest noises went away but the "whirring" is still happening until I turn on the a/c. I'm guessing that the bearings in the a/c clutch are going bad and when the a/c is engaged the clutch is bypassed making the sound stop, but whenever off the clutch kicks in allowing the pulley to run free and that's when the sound starts. Has anyone here replaced the a/c clutch at all and how difficult was it? After replacing the serpentine belt yesterday I was able to get a good idea of how to get to the ac, but I didn't know if it was a crapshoot trying to replace the a/c clutch. Thanks for any help!
 

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I replaced the coil that's between the compressor and the clutch. It's not a quick process since you will have to remove the power steering pump, the belt tensioner, the alternator, the a/c compressor, and the fan that's in front of the compressor. To remove the clutch you'll need a clutch holder. I borrowed one from Autozone.

The field coil will pull the clutch towards the pulley when the a/c is on. Sounds like you hear the noise when the inner "pulley"/shaft is not spinning.
 

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It does sound like you flooded the bearings for the pulley and if thats is what happened you will have to replace the AC pulley. I had a Mitsubishi truck that also got flooded and it took out almost every bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Okay, so this sounds like a job that I'll need a dedicated weekend for. I was hoping that I could access the compressor from the inside of the wheel well in order to keep from having to go from the top, but that's not a possibility? I found a replacement a/c clutch kit online and I figured I'd go ahead and replace the whole clutch assembly. When I had the belt off, I reached up through the wheel well and turned the a/c clutch pulley by hand and that's definitely where the noise is coming from. I went ahead and checked all the other pulleys and they all ran smooth and sound free, so I'm hoping that this will be the fix.

If you took out the compressor to do this job, that means you had to drain the coolant? I've never worked with an a/c before and have no idea about that whole system so I'm a little shy of wanting to mess with coolant and all of that as I have no idea of the procedure to drain/fill it.
 

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If you can change the clutch assembly without unhooking the hoses that would be the best as you would have to evac the system and fill it afterwords. I have not done one of these and do not know how long the hoses are.
 

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I couldn't get the clutch holder to fit in through the wheel well. You might be able to remove the compressor without undoing the hoses. I had more to replace so I had to remove the compressor out since it's tight in there. I think one of the hoses is short and rigid so you might need to get the compressor out. If you get help, someone could hold the compressor after it's unmounted but with the hoses attached. At that point, you might have enough room to work from the wheel well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, I let the problem go on for too long and now the a/c clutch is completely stuck and the bearings sound shredded. Last night I was driving home and noticed smoke coming out from under the hood, I killed the motor and took a look and noticed that the a/c pulley was no longer turning and the belt was spinning around the pulley and that's what caused the smoking.


Now I'm at the decision making point of what to do. I cannot drive the E until I replace either the pulley/clutch or go ahead and replace the whole compressor since I'm going to be in there.


Any ideas? Also, how difficult is it to replace the compressor? Will I need special equipment or just have an a/c shop remove the refrigerant, me replace the compressor, then have them flush/fill the system?
 

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The compressor isn't cheap so replace it only if you need to. When you get the pulley off, try to turn it by hand to see if it spins without much resistance. If the compressor is shot, you might have debris in the system which means you might need to replace more components (expansion valve...)

You can use the belt from an element without a/c if you need to drive the car but can't fix the ac right away. You won't be able to use the ac but you can take your time while you figure out how to get it fixed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks a ton for your help, guys. I had to order the belt for the E w/o a/c because nowhere locally seemed to have it, or even an idea of what I was talking about. I guess the idea of no a/c in central Oklahoma just seems impossible to the parts guys around here!

It's being overnighted as we speak, so hopefully I'll be able to be back up and running by tomorrow afternoon and that will give me a little more time to figure out which route I'm going to take with the a/c system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The belt worked perfectly, and wow, I forgot how quiet and smoothly my 2003 awd ex E with 110k runs. My wife kept asking if the car had died whenever we were sitting at stoplights because it idles so incredibly quiet.

I must say that I'm really stoked that the compressor is what had been causing all of my problems lately. Ever since the offroading incident that created this whole issue, our E had been running pretty rough and awfully noisy and I was afraid that it was going to take pretty much a complete exterior engine overhaul (including replacing most every pulley) in order to get it back up to good shape, but nope. As soon as that compressor was bypassed, the car quit feeling like it was dragging while accelerating, the engine quit idling rough, and it became sooo smooth again.

Now I can focus on getting the a/c figured out without having to worry about a bunch of other issues or costs. Man, I couldn't possibly love this car any less than every other car on the market. We have put this thing through stuff that makes my buddies cringe, but it just never stops. I've literally driven it through spots and up mountains on jeep trails that people in old range rovers wouldn't attempt. If it had a 4wd-low gear for some of those over 35% grade jeep roads, I would never buy another vehicle.

I'll have to post some pictures of the places we've taken "Petey," which is what we have lovingly named our E. People would be amazed...
 

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Great news!

Now go get those pics and get them on here. It's a long weekend coming up and some of us can at least live vicariously through the shots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Alright, so I'm ordering a kit to replace the compressor, accumulator/drier, expansion device, and O-ring kit. There's aftermarket new, oem re-manufacture, and new oem compressors available. Would any techs on here have a preference on which they would rather use? The new oem makes the cost a fair amount higher, but I could budget it in if it would be highly advisable. I've never replaced a compressor and don't really know if oem vs aftermarket matters so much.

Now onto the big question, has anyone replaced the compressor and if so, how difficult is it to get to and replace? I'm going to give it a crack at home but I'm wanting to know ahead of time how much down time I should plan and how to go about actually replacing the parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No ideas, anyone?! Man, I'm going to be going about this blindly I guess as it seems I can't find any information whatsoever about replacing the compressor on the E...
 
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