A/C pulley loose and wobbling - Focus Fanatics
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:10 PM   #1
maxwell_bud
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A/C pulley loose and wobbling

Hey guys, quick question. I started to notice a faint squeaking sound under my hood a couple days ago and now it's louder and louder and causing smoke that smells like rubber rubbing against something. So I finally looked under the hood and sure enough my A/C pulley is loose and wobbling and rubbing against the sides, which is causing the smoke and squeaking.

My questions are what do I do to fix this? Can I just tighten the pulley back down or do I need to buy a new one? If so, do I have to loosen the belt tensioner to do this? Also is this something that can potentially cause a chain reaction of bad things? belt slipping, bad timing? What could have caused this to happen in the first place?

thank you thank you thank you for any answers!


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Old 10-26-2013, 07:21 PM   #2
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It could most certainly cause a problem! Get it fixed ASAP! Problems could range in severity, but mostly it will fly off and the belt will come with it, your battery light will come on because the alternator wont be spinning and continuing to drive will overheat the car possibly even causing a blown head gasket... If it locks it cause more damage...

A new, refurbished pulley is most likely needed, if cash is tight pull one off of a junk yard car... This is of course assuming the compressor it's self isn't screwed up already... If the compressor is shot you either need a new compressor or do a A/C delete/bypass.

First try tightening the pulley, to do this you'll need to take off the belt or at least take it off of the A/C pulley.
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:01 AM   #3
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awesome, thanks for the info. I'll try tightening it down first. I'm a big fan of the junkyard so I'll probably go hunting soon. I've had the car for a few months and the A/C works so I don't think the compressor it shot, but it always bothered me because it never really got super cold and on a hot day it would take FOREVER to get cold. It would still do this after I recharged it too. I always try to drive without the A/C on but sometimes when I'd turn it on (while going about 60 mph, not idling) I'd hear and feel a somewhat loud single knock. I knew it was something to do with the A/C because that's the only time it would happen but never really knew what it could be.
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:18 AM   #4
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It sounds like you need a new AC clutch to me. I believe we have a How-To on changing the clutch with the compressor in the car.

Before you "recharge" your AC, you might want to have a set of gauges hooked up to it to make sure it's not already overcharged. An overcharged system will act like an undercharged system- not cool. You could also have a clogged orifice tube. In a properly working system, you don't lose refrigerant. If you're low on refrigerant, then you have a leak. For DIYers, I recommend disassembling the system (not as hard as you think), replacing all the O-rings, and replacing the orifice tube. Then do a proper recharge. That will give you a cold AC again. I also don't recommend charging by volume- you should charge by pressure. Since you live in FL, you might want a lower cycling charge than someone in Ohio- for example. Pressure is directly related to temperature- so overcharging gives you lukewarm air, among other things.
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:31 PM   #5
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Ok so I went to buy the new A/C clutch from AOP and they only sold the compressor/clutch combo. Autozone sold the clutch by itself. I took it to a shop just to have them take a look to see if I even needed the compressor. They told me my clutch was shot and that I needed to replace the compressor and dryer too (which didn't make any sense to me) for $684 total using their parts + labor...lol. So I bought the A/C clutch by itself from Autozone and put it in (bitch and a half to do, although it was my first time).

But now this new clutch doesn't seem to work correctly. I'm not sure I installed it right. The clutch is always spinning/engaged, even with the air turned completely off. I can feel cold air coming through just from driving when the air isn't even on. So something clearly isn't working right. What would cause the clutch to be engaged all the time? Did I put it on too tight or something?

Of note: I noticed the old clutch had only 1 washer for the bolt, and this new clutch had about 4 washers. I only used 1 because I didn't really know what to do with the others, I figured they were just extras. Maybe it needs more space to be apart from the actual pulley, and that's why it's engaged all the time?
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:33 PM   #6
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Exactly. You MUST shim the airgap there to .030" to get things working right. Paperwork that comes with part clearly says so. You just gotta be ADD free enough to read it.

They almost always tell you now you can only get the clutch and compressor together and a lie to get you in much much deeper into the a/c repair fiasco. Many are not prepared to go there properly and then screw up and ditch the car when a/c now screwed up. Thank the wonderful parts houses for that, all they care about is raping the crap out of you before you crash and burn there. Often only clutch BEARING is bad and all you need is that if you catch it quick. When I can find one (online pretty much only place) I change bearing only, but high priced around $35-40 just like how high clutch alone is priced to clutch/compressor together, the big scam there. Change bearing alone and a good flat file to front clutch face to level surface and back again to running forever, got one now that took maybe one hour to fix and done years ago, runs fine. The front clutch plate must still have the rubber shock absorbers in good condition, you could even buy front plate alone in the past, I'm sure someone has stopped that as well to get another (unnecessary for you) 4X$ parts sale. Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to help the everyday man any more, the more they say they do, the greater liars they are. I should know, I worked parts long enough to find out.
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:19 PM   #7
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ok thank you everyone. I spaced it properly and it is working great now. thank you!
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