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I've got a 2003 Element. I'm not the original owner and I've had the car for about 2 1/2 years and the car has about 97k miles. I had the serpentine belt changes last week. I don't drive the car much, the wife does to work, but on a road trip this weekend I got to drive it. The AC worked fine at highway speeds but when I came to a stop the compressor cycled off. It started to blow out warm air and didn't cycle on unless I press the recirc button. Once i started down the highway it came on and blew out cold air. Ambient temperatures where 96F.

In the garage after letting the car sit overnight I started the car and turned on the AC. Within a minute the compressor cycled off. The garage interior was in the 80s.

Do you think it just needs a A/C service because it's low on freon?

I know the car is old but it seems everytime I take my car into my dealership within a sort time afterward something else breaks.

Thanks for any advice.

Kelvin
 

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I've got a 2003 Element. I'm not the original owner and I've had the car for about 2 1/2 years and the car has about 97k miles. I had the serpentine belt changes last week. I don't drive the car much, the wife does to work, but on a road trip this weekend I got to drive it. The AC worked fine at highway speeds but when I came to a stop the compressor cycled off. It started to blow out warm air and didn't cycle on unless I press the recirc button. Once i started down the highway it came on and blew out cold air. Ambient temperatures where 96F.

In the garage after letting the car sit overnight I started the car and turned on the AC. Within a minute the compressor cycled off. The garage interior was in the 80s.

Do you think it just needs a A/C service because it's low on freon?

I know the car is old but it seems everytime I take my car into my dealership within a sort time afterward something else breaks.

Thanks for any advice.

Kelvin
Kelvin,

Unless you have the expertise, equipment and tools to diagnose/service A/C systems it is a good idea to take it to a trained professional in your area for service or repair. Just ask around to find out who has the best reputation for quality work and decent prices. It does not need to necessarily be a Honda dealership however. If the system is cycling on and off like you explained it could be low on refrigerant. Hope that helped some.

Jackson
 

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Sounds like your coolant charge is starting to drop, given the age of you E that is mostly normal. A/C is not something we can even legally work on in my state without several licenses.
The compressor should cycle at intervals, if your charge is low it will cycle just quicker or not turn on at all.
Chris
 

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The ac is over pressurizing. Watch the water temp. Check radiator/condenser fan motors. Both mine were broke and that is what was happening to me.
 

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The compressor is kicking off on high pressure.

With the car on and parked, pop the hood, turn on the AC and see if your condenser fan cycles on and off with the compressor clutch. If it doesn't, there's your problem. No fan.

Check the fan motor to see if it's good. Take the motor's power leads straight to the battery to see if it turns on. If it does, go back and check the condenser fan relay. Don't ask me where it is, I don't know. Just telling you what to check.

Use a volt meter in the condenser fan plug going to the motor and see if you have power there when the AC clutch engages. If not, the relay is probably your problem.

At highway speeds it'll work fine because the air getting pushed through the condenser is enough to keep the temp/pressure down. But at low speeds it's not enough without the fan.
 

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in2steam said:
Sounds like your coolant charge is starting to drop, given the age of you E that is mostly normal.


This is blatantly wrong information. A/C systems are closed systems and should NEVER need routine charging. If the system is low on refrigerant then there is a leak in it somewhere and that is never normal.

OP said:
Do you think it just needs a A/C service because it's low on freon?
No Element has or uses "Freon".

Freon is not synonymous with refrigerant.

 

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This is blatantly wrong information. A/C systems are closed systems and should NEVER need routine charging. If the system is low on refrigerant then there is a leak in it somewhere and that is never normal.



No Element has or uses "Freon".

Freon is not synonymous with refrigerant.

(Sigh)
We are at best taking educated guesses based on the info provided.
At 6 years plus I would hardly call a small amount of leakage routine, I work with commercial A/C systems every day they can leak alot. I also worked automotive systems for about 10 years as parts man. NO system is pefectly sealed and in time will leak, automotive systems are far from tight and use O-rings or gaskets all over the place. Yes its true that more then likely there is a leak, and in at least in my state you cannot release a vehicle without finding and repairing the leak, or pumping down the system which renders it inoperable. Freon(R12 or R22) is a loose term, R134a is the proper term, but Freon is used by shops as a way to say coolant. Just like I say ammonia at work, its not really ammonia its anhydrous ammonia for coolant in the current systems I work with.
A high or low charge will cause the compressor to cycle abnormally, its hard to say without a manifold hooked up. The only reason I went with low charge is that it works better on recirculate, if high psi cutout was the problem it would not likely work at all with recirculate. But that is speculation only, the other posters thoughts and experiences are solid and respectable.

Chris
 

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Sounds like your coolant charge is starting to drop, given the age of you E that is mostly normal. A/C is not something we can even legally work on in my state without several licenses.
The compressor should cycle at intervals, if your charge is low it will cycle just quicker or not turn on at all.
Chris
Good point on mentioning proper certification and licensing. I failed to say that. In the eyes of the federal government you are not authorized to work on any refrigerant system without proper equipment to capture refrigerant, EPA refrigerant logs, etc. in addition to credentials.
 

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I think the state of Wisconsin is still the worst to work with. We have totally separate tests, the EPA test is pretty easy. For commercial they will not even let you take the test unless you have at least two credits in a recognized tech school. Its really a joke, I have A/C experience and one class with heating and A/C for maintenance men, I trouble shoot them all time, but I cannot crack the system legally. Since I now only work with 512 its not such a legal thing, more of a safety thing as that can make a small fire real nasty real quick.

In any other state I could and have worked with cars, here I cannot. I do have a license to buy or sell Freon or R12, for what ever thats worth, but I cannot actually put it in the system. The legal aspect of it seems to have diminished some, since most of the cars on the roads these days are r134. I do remember when I was working in parts that several dealers in Florida were made examples of by the Feds, back in during the Clinton years. The fines were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Chris
 

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I agree with poster 4 and 5. From the information provided it does seem like the condenser fan or fans are not coming on. At highway speeds the condenser gets enough cooling for the ac to work but at low speeds it won't work.

In Texas you can work on your ac but proper equipment should be used if the system needs evacuation. Which probably won't be the case. You can buy freon (ok, R134A refrigerant) at walmart or any parts house. Again my first bet is the condenser fans. I'm working on a bus right now with bad fans. It's a wiring problem though.
 

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Do they even sell 134 at the parts stores in 1 LB cans like here in Wi ? Here you need a license to buy it but not to work on the systems. I use to do a lot of AC work in of all places, Palm Springs and you want to talk about high pressures. Yes 134 systems will leak slowly over the years but it does sound like your overpressuring the system and hitting the high pressure switch. If it was low the compressor would be cycling a lot even when driving and have the same temps coming out of the dash.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thanks for everyones comments. I had recently taken my Element in to the dealer and they replaced the serpintine belt. Could they have done something to the cooling system. If the car is cold and I start it up after it comes off the initial cold start and the idle drops down the AC still cycles off prematurely. I have noticed no change in water temperature. I also hear a knock when it shuts off. If the compressor is running and I manually turn it off I don't hear the knock and if it is not on and I turn it on I don't hear the knock. Only when it is cycling. This seems to have occured since the serpintine belt was replaced.

I'll have to check the fans tonight. If they are not working then the dealership mechanic must have done something when replacing that belt.

Kelvin
 

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The clunk noise is probably because the compressor is actually tripping off on high pressure and has a ton of load on it when that happens. When you shut it off yourself the pressure is lower, so there's not as much pressure pushing back on the compressor.

My money is on your fan not coming on. See if they unplugged the fan plug or maybe pulled a wire out of the connector or something.
 

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I'm not giving A/C suggestions anymore :D----right after I did last time our compressor started growling and stopped cooling. I think it is angry.:lol:

The charge was a hair low, so I added a little with a little extra oil. It is cooling again and it sounds better, but I imagine it is getting ready to cough up a big one.

Getting ready for the big day----the best deals I could find are an OEM with new clutch pieces and stator for $640 and an aftermarket, new complete assembly for $286.

Not looking forward to this one----it is in a knuckle-skinning location.:rolleyes:

Between the need for tires and the A/C about to take a dump, I asked my wife if she would like a new "E" or fix and drive this one for another 5 yrs.

Two dealers called back---one said we could trade ours for a leftover 2009 2WD EX for 15K difference and the other said $14K on their 09. I don't think so.:twisted:

This one still looks brand new inside and out and has 72K miles. Now, I'm very motivated to give this one whatever she desires and Keep-On-Trucking. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #16
$640 seems cheap but I guess with labor it would be more expensive. I had an AC compressor dump on a Chevy S10 pickup 4 cy. It cost me $1000. I tried getting an estimate from an independent shop on the same price except the dealer had a life time warranty on the part.

I'd keep your E. Just think of making a few car payments to pay off the bill.

I checked my E tonight when my wife came home with it. The fans are not coming on.

I swear, I don't trust the dealer anymore. I'm going to take it back to them and tell them that since they replace the serpentine belt the AC has been acting like this. If they say I need more parts I'll pay their labor and go to an shop with the diagnosis from dealer.

Thanks for everyones comments.

Kelvin
 

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Go look for obvious things like I said above. Unplugged plugs, loose or busted wires, things like that.

Looking in my manual, there should be a gray plug that goes down to the condenser fan motor. Make sure that plug is seated properly.

If you have a multimeter, pull the plug apart and check for power on the Blue/Yellow wire when the AC is running. That's your hot wire, the black wire goes to ground.

If you don't have any power there, check fuse #1 under the dash. Although I don't think that'll be your problem since that fuse feeds both your compressor clutch relay and your condenser fan relay.

Could be your relay is bad as well. For now though, make sure you have power at that plug for your fan motor and make sure that it's seated properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I took it back to the dealer. They are telling me both fans on the radiator need replacing. I asked how could both fans have failed?

Their estimate was for $950 using Honda parts and about $750 using 3rd party.

I'm going to research this some more. I'll go for a second opinion at another shop.

Kelvin
 

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I took it back to the dealer. They are telling me both fans on the radiator need replacing. I asked how could both fans have failed?
Which is the correct question. Both fans failing is extremely unlikely. I'd be poking around control relays, fan fuses and the connections in between.

Find an independent A/C shop and let them take a whack at it. Dealer is grasping straws.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
When I look at some of the Honda parts websites I see the drawing showing the AC condenser but they only show 1 fan/motor assembly yet there are two fans behind the condenser isn't there?
http://www.hondapartsnow.com/online...ure=False&isDisplayAll=True&pageName=pageName

The cooling fan lists for about $223 and sells for about $160-166 at these online sites.

Do you have to pull the condenser to replace the fan motors? I can't see why it's so expensive to replace these units, if they need replacing.

Kelvin
 
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