Aircon nightmares!

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 15:27
ThreadID: 105789 Views:4259 Replies:3 FollowUps:9
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Hi folks,

Apologies but a bit of a lead up story to this one and hoping to get a few pearls of wisdom thrown my way. Want to give as much info as possible. I have also asked the question on the LCOOL site and have had a few good responses but thought I would go fishing here too!

('02 HZJ 105 - non turbo) Last week on the way down south my aircon simply stopped working including the interior fan and also all of the lights on the centre console related to the fan and A/C tripped. Shortly thereafter I started to notice a slight burning smell. Upon inspection under the bonnet there was a streak of what looked like melted black plastic sprayed across the underside of the bonnet and a light film of stringy melted black plastic across the engine bay itself. I removed all of this "stuff" and started the engine. Everything appeared to be working normally, no unusual noises and I revved the engine a fair bit from under the bonnet with no visible debris flying out from anywhere. My initial thought was that I recently had 2 new batteries installed with a redarc charger and one of the plastic caps from one of the battery terminals had fallen into the engine bay. Since I had not been on a long trip since installation perhaps it had melted and somehow shorted out some fuses somewhere. I did change out the fuses in the passenger side kick panel but to no avail.

Anyway, a few hundred kms later and we make it to our destination a bit hot and bothered with no A/C but nothing a few cold beers wouldn't fix. The next day I took the Cruiser offroad down to one of the beaches which in one part required a bit of rock crawling over some pretty steep rocks. On the way back and going down a steep rock incline a god awful screaming noise began emanating from the engine bay. I got onto level ground and popped the hood, this time there was no black stuff but the drive belt was slipping on the aircon compressor at the same time as what could only be described as a grinding noise coming from the aircon unit. There was nothing for it but to remove the drive belt altogether which I did with no further noises or issues.

Arriving back in Perth I took it into my mechanic who confirmed that the bearings had collapsed in the compressor. They replaced the compressor (recon part) and fuses etc and it was all good to go. I drove it home (about 20kms) with nice cool aircon and the only damage was a dent to my hip pocket. 1 day later I get in the car, start her up and drive all of 5kms and the noise has returned but worse. This time the belt wasn't moving at all and was essentially destroyed. The compressor had completely seized this time (the first time it could be turned by hand). I removed the belt and took it back to my mechanic however it was late on Friday and they won't be able to look at it until 1st thing Monday.

Any ideas on what could have gone wrong? I am quite concerned as we are leaving for a trip across the Nullabor on Friday and the rest of the vehicle is tip top. Would hate for something like this to affect this trip. Is it a coincidence that this has happened so shortly after having the dual battery/charger installed or could the problem be related? I know a little bit about the mechanics of a car but sweet stuff all about aircons!

Thanks in advance


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Reply By: dindy - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 16:02

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 16:02
Hi I read your post on lcool re this issue and the replies you were given were on the money. Your symptoms are typical for a landcruiser ac failure. The debris thrown around the engine bay has come from a seized ac clutch assembly and damaged ac belt. Was the mechanic you took the vehicle to a specialist ac mechanic? I if not he may have just replaced the clutch with a second hand or recon unit and it too has failed.

The installation of a dual battery system should have had no bearing on the ac clutch or compressor failure unless the person doing the installation has done some thing weird and not so wonderful that has affected to operation of the ac. It is possible that the missing terminal cover may have become jammed in the ac belt but it is highly unlikely, usually things like this are bounced of by the belt. Being plastic it can't of itself short circuit anything electrical. The ac clutch is electrically activated, the fuses have probably blown because of a short circuit in the ac activation circuit when the ac clutch disintegrated.
AnswerID: 524364

Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser74 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 16:20

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 16:20
Thanks Dindy,

No, my mechanic is not an A/C specialist but someone who has been working on our family vehicles for decades. In fact this is the first time I have had to take a vehicle back after a job. It is true he used a recon unit. I think taking it to an actual specialist will be the way to go as I do not want this happening halfway across the Nullabor in January. Just hoping I can find someone who can repair it between Monday -Thursday!

Appreciate your response

FollowupID: 805969

Reply By: blue one - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 16:23

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 16:23
It could be a faulty TX valve which is allowing liquid refrigerant to slug back into the compressor. Bent everything inside makes for a sudden and permanent stop until rebuilt.

Just a maybe.


AnswerID: 524368

Follow Up By: Brian 01 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:52

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:52
I would be tempted to agree with Steve on this one, except for a slight variation on the effect.
A faulty TX valve, or just dirt in the TX filter can cause the compressor to seize through lack of lubrication (which is carried throughout the system with the refrigerant).
The compressor seizes when the clutch is engaged, the engine continues to attempt to turn the compressor rotor, the clutch is destroyed, which is the junk that you saw coupled with a bit of shaved belt.
Once the clutch has collapsed, the compressor pulley is once again free to rotate and all will appear OK except for no cooling.
New clutch fitted, the compressor has cooled and become free again, all looks fine until it again seizes.
Then again, it may be something entirely different.
FollowupID: 806016

Follow Up By: Brian 01 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:57

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:57
Just an addendum to my post above, after a re-read of the OP, I now realise that they replaced the entire compressor, not just the clutch, so... Unless they also replaced the TX valve, the problem would recur PDQ.
FollowupID: 806018

Reply By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 17:26

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 17:26
First off you have to find out did the original compressor seize or was it only the pulley bearing, pulley bearing are common to fail on Landcruisers.

If it was only the pulley bearing and the compressor was OK internally more then likely they would of changed the desicant bag (requirerment and good practice) and maybe flushed the condenssor to remove most of the oil how ever it is not advisable to flush the condenser on your Landcruiser due to the parallel flow design, its better to replace.

If they did flush the system there maybe a good chance the remanufactured compressor was shipped and fitted with no oil. If the tx valve failed you would of noticed a decrease in performance before the new compressor failed........ Or maybe the pulley bearing fitted in the recond compressor was installed incorrectly when pressed into the pulley causing it the seize.

So first you have to find out what actually failed on your original compressor to determine what action was taken...... Did the compressor internally fail first causing the pulley to collapse or was it only the pulley that failed.

AnswerID: 524374

Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser74 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 17:48

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 17:48
Hi mate,

From my limited understanding of these things I can tell you that when I initially pulled the drive belt off I could turn the front wheel easily by hand and in fact it seemed very loose and I could actually rock it back and forth slightly also which did not seem to be right . At this point I inspected the drive belt and there was no damage.

After the "repair" and when it clapped out for the 2nd time the front wheel of the compressor could not be turned at all by hand. It's completely seized. I have not actually had a chance to ascertain exactly what it is they did in the initial repair besides replace the compressor. All they told me was that the bearing had collapsed and the clutch was also damaged.

FollowupID: 805977

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 17:58

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 17:58
Have you still got the old compressor?

But i am still betting on lack of oil in the second one, on the new one place a 10 mm socket on the nut on the front and try turning it with a ratchet, some compressor can be very tight to turn by hand...... Getting back to the original compressor, they can seize internally and then break free making you think it hasn't seized...... Its a bit like what came first the chicken or the egg.
FollowupID: 805980

Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser74 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 18:03

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 18:03
Baffling to say the least! I am determined to become more educated about these types of things. I am away for work at the moment but return on Tues morning. They still have the old compressor in the workshop along with my vehicle and I will be in touch with them first thing tomorrow to find out what's going on. This sort of advice and information is very helpful as I can pass it on to them giving the illusion that I have half an idea of what I'm on about!!

Thanks again mate
FollowupID: 805982

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 18:16

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 18:16
Its got me stuffed why they fitted a recond compressor when they are still available new from Denso at a sensible price, recons are usually more expensive.
FollowupID: 805984

Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:00

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:00
Hi Cruiser 74. The second compressor (reco) that was removed. Does the pulley turn without the centre (clutch) plate turning. It should turn independantly of the centre. There should also be around a half mm gap where the plate is magnetically drawn back against the pulley when power is supplied. If not the plate may have "welded" to the pulley which would indicate the internals of the compressor have siezed, possibly from low oil. If there is still the half mm gap but the pulley wont turn then it would seem the pulley bearing has siezed. Cheers, Bob.
FollowupID: 806009

Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser74 - Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:32

Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at 21:32
Thanks Bob,

I'm not sure as I am away at work and the vehicle is in with the mechanics. I will be phoning them first thing and getting them to check all of these things out. Thanks very much for your input!
FollowupID: 806013

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