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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. This is my 1st post on this site. I recently purchased an '02 Focus SE with 74k miles. When I bought it I knew that the AC compressor was bad but was planning to just leave it as is for a while or maybe permenantly.

But recently, it's been making more noise than when I first got the car. I unplugged it so I wouldn't accidentally activate it and it's been spinning freely without the clutch engaged. But it squeaks quite a bit when the car is first started. once I drive a few miles it quiets down. In addition, it's starting to make a grating sound. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to lub the pully so it turns quietly or maybe remove the clutch plate all together. I really don't want to have to deal with replacing the compressor at the moment. If I replace it at all I'd like to wait till next spring. Mother nature is about to provide us here in Ohio with all the cool air we'll need for a while. [:)]
 

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Are you sure it's not just the belt that is squealing? If it is the compressor, the clutch assembly can be replaced seperately from the compressor. Never done it, but they are available. Special pullers are required.
Another option would be to run a nonA/C belt. Not sure if the compressor would have to be removed to clear the new belt routing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I like that idea of using a non-AC belt to bypass the compressor for now. Anyone know if this is possible without any modifications or additions of a bypass pully? How tough is it to work with the belt considering the close quarters?
 

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I don't think you can do that without removing the AC compressor, and adding an idler pulley in place of the compressor.

How positive are you that it's the compressor that is making this sound? Could it be the tensioner pulley or idler pulley? Those make squeaking and grinding sounds when bad, and are much easier/cheaper to replace than a clutch. It would also make sense that those made noise with the AC on, and not as much noise with the AC off. I would remove the belt, replace if needed, and spin those pulleys by hand to see if I could hear if the bearings were bad before I concerned myself with the AC clutch.

I do think in the "Complete How-To Archive" there is an article about replacing the AC clutch. Most service manuals have articles about replacing the AC clutch. It can be done without disconnecting the lines or discharging, but you might have to free the lines and unbolt the compressor to use the puller. I've not worked on a car yet that didn't have enough AC line slack to move the compressor out of the engine compartment for engine removal. I haven't worked on a Zetec especially, but I think this idea is typical for all manufacturers. Look for straps that hold the lines in place, and remove those before unbolting the compressor.
 

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Oh, one final word, I don't know if your accessory belt is one of the new types or one of the old ones. The newer EPDM belts do not wear like the neoprene belts which show fabric on the back side, cracking, and ribs falling off. EPDM is softer, and wears more evenly. It lasts longer- mine has gone +130k miles. Yet, if I had a problem today with a pulley, I'd replace it in the process. There is a tool available to measure the depth of the grooves to determine if the belt is in need of replacement. Rock Auto.com has some very good prices on accessory belts- especially if you need to order other parts at the same time like a tensioner or idler pulley. A comparable belt to the Gates I bought at O'Reilleys is $20ish on RA, but I paid $40+. The $40 belt on RA is some kind of blue racing belt- I wish I'd spent my money on that instead. Likewise, I'm fairly certain that tensioner prices are about half, but you won't save much on a $10 idler pulley.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm almost 100% sure it's the AC compressor. The AC doesn't work. When I bought the car I had them put it up on a lift and identify what the prob was. I looked at it when it was in the air and could see that the clutch plate was loose and rattling around. I had them remove it thinking I could get away with not replacing the compressor till next summer as long as the clutch pulley would continue to spin freely. But as my luck would have it, sounds like the clutch is rapidly on it's way out.

The belt looks fine. I checked it last night when I got home from work. Doesn't look like it's been slipping but I did smell what I believe was hot grease or metal burning possibly from the bearings in the clutch. It makes a gravely sound at idle and when I get on the ground to listen to where the noise is coming from it's definately from the compressor.

I don't like to make cheap mickey mouse duct tape fixes so I think I'll just go ahead and replace the compressor now and be done with it. This car is in "like new" condition and I don't want to start quick patching it up!

So I guess the next question would be - If I were to replace the compressor now, does the AC system need to be charged right away in order for the new clutch pulley to be properly lubed or can this chore wait till spring, assuming I will not be engaging the compressor any more this season, without damage to the clutch pulley?
 

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If you are going to replace the compressor then I highly recommend pumping the system down and checking for leaks before you charge it back up. If the new compressor doesn't come pre filled with oil then I would also add about 2 ounces of the correct oil to play it safe.

Why not just fix it right once and for all instead of putting a band aid on it? In the long run you will save money.
 

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Agreed. You should have the system operating after the install. You will then be able to enjoy fog free windows all winter long.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If you are going to replace the compressor then I highly recommend pumping the system down and checking for leaks before you charge it back up. If the new compressor doesn't come pre filled with oil then I would also add about 2 ounces of the correct oil to play it safe.

Why not just fix it right once and for all instead of putting a band aid on it? In the long run you will save money.
Ok. I'll make sure I know the new compressor is prefilled with oil before installing. I suppose I could have the system leak tested and recharged now but I have other things going right now and didn't want to have to do any of this now! When I bought the car knowing that the AC would need to be addressed I was hoping not to have to do that till next spring. I rarely, if ever, use AC in the car anyway. Don't really need it at all here in Ohio so I didn't want to have to put $$ into this fix until I had absolutely nothing else to spend my money on - or maybe never fix it if the current clutch pulley would hold out.

I have a '95 Chevy Astro minivan that I bought used in '99. The air worked in that for about 2 years then quit. I never had it fixed and the compressor pulley has never given out. I still have the vehicle with 243k miles on it and the original factory compressor pulley just keeps spinning smoothly even though the system has been dead for years!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't think you can do that without removing the AC compressor, and adding an idler pulley in place of the compressor.
Well, I've been giving a little more thought to bypassing the AC for now. You mention a bypass pulley above. I've called around to a few parts places as well as a Ford dealership and checked out Rock Auto's catalog and no one seems to be able to find one. The dealership tells me that if they can't find one in their parts list, most likely Ford never made one available. Do you know if there is a bypass pulley made for this car? Mine is an SPI.

The Ford service dept. mentioned the possibility of using a shorter belt and simply routing past the compressor for now. They said as long as everything else that needs power from the belt stays in the loop, they can't see any reason why that wouldn't work. This was his idea, not mine. Anyone ever try this? And how would I determine what length belt would be needed?

I found belt routing diagrams on-line for the SPI engine with and without AC. I guess it's not a matter of just not having that compressor pulley in the routing. The diagrams indicate that the non-AC engine actually has idler pulleys as well as the alternater in slightly different locations than the AC engine so I'm assuming that the non-AC belt may not be the correct length for this experiment.
 

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Too bad you didn't live in Vegas, I would vacuum the system down & recharge it for you. Of course you would have to install the new compressor. Do you know anyone with a set of gauges and some R134?
 

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Too bad you didn't live in Vegas, I would vacuum the system down & recharge it for you. Of course you would have to install the new compressor. Do you know anyone with a set of gauges and some R134?
Back in the day, I used to go to a local fast oil change place early in the morning with vacuumed systems. They would recharge the system fairly cheaply for me, but it I did have to talk to several managers at places before I found someone willing to cut me a break on refilling. That's how I learned how the game is played in the professional recharging world.

You just have to find someone who's willing to accept that this particular vehicle owner knows more than the average person, and is bringing in a vacuumed and checked system for a recharge that won't take as much time as typical AC repairs. It still cost me more money than the refrigerant and oil alone, but it wasn't that much more.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Strange how this issue is progressing. While we're discussing this thing, my compressor seems to have quieted down and is no longer grinding or squeaking. It still squeaks a little at cold start up but goes away quickly and doesn't make any odd noises from then on while driving?? This just started on my way home from work yesterday and was very quiet again this morning on my way in. I drive 20 mi each way to work which is the main reason I bought the Focus - MPG.

I'm just going to buy a new compressor and install it this weekend. The last thing I want to happen is to have the clutch seize up unexpectedly while driving and have to have the car towed. I'll make sure the new compressor is prefilled with oil and will replace the "O" rings in the process. I'll study up on the vacuum, leak check and recharge process over the winter and do the job myself once I'm confident with my ability to perform this procedure. If all else fails, I could pay a professional ??
 

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You don't have to worry about the clutch locking up on you. I've never known one to do that. The compressor itself might lock up, but not the clutch. It will make some horrible noises when it goes bad though.

You don't want to purchase a new compressor, then leave it for months until you charge the system. That will invite moisture inside the system. You can install it, replace O-rings, orifice tube, and vacuum. If it holds vacuum, then you can leave it like that- all hooked up. It won't turn on, the LP switch will keep it from engaging the clutch.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, here it is Saturday afternoon and I'm in the middle of removing the dead AC compressor. I started by releasing the coolant from the system at the valve on top of the coil. Tell me if I'm correct in assuming that if the system seemed to have all of its pressure that there are most likely no leaks anywhere. I would think this is a good sign - so far. No?

Now I need to figure out where the tensioner is on the SPI engine so I can release the compressor from the belt.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok. Belt's off and compressor removed. The clutch is DEFINATELY the problem. The bearings in the clutch are half missing. There is a pile of metal shavings sitting in the bottom of the belt guard and the compressor pulley is completely loose.

So here's the question - As long as I have this thing apart, what else should I check for wear to be replaced? This is an SPI SOHC engine. I spun the bottom idler pulley and it seems a tiny bit loose. I really don't know what to look for as far as wear on these things so I don't know what to expect. The idler pulley does not continue spinning freely when I spin it by hand. It has a very slight raspy sound to it as it spins and a very slight wobble to it (not while spinning but if you grasp it and try to wobble it forcefully). Nothing at all like the shot AC pulley but it's noticable. All other pulleys seems to be solid and the belt itself looks to be near new as if the previous owner tried to solve the squeeking problem by replacing the belt.

What else should I look for before reassembly?
 

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It sounds like the idler pulley needs to be replaced- it should spin smoothly. The tensioner is up for grabs. If it was difficult to move, and the pulley rolls well- then it's probably good. I replaced it with the belt on my wife's car just so I won't get "that" call some day. I wouldn't replace it on my car unless it was bad. If the water pump spins good without rumbling, uneven, or loose feel, then you can skip that one as well. Make sure it's not leaking water from the snout as that would indicate loose bearings, and the pump should be replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ok. I'll call the Ford dealership Monday morn for a new idler pulley.

Here's a question for the SPI guys. Seems there are 2 different replacement compressor options for this engine. 1. With the coil (pigtail plug) in the 3 o'clock position and 2. with the plug in the 6 o'clock position one the clutch. I just spent about a half hour with the parts guy trying to figure out the significance of this. From everything we could find in their books and in their computer system, both are the exact same unit. The only difference is where the plug is located - AND PRICE! The 3 o'clock position compressor is about $65 more than the other one. And, of course, this is the one I have on my car. Does anyone know if it's possible to use the 6 o'clock position compressor in place of the other one - all else being the same?
 

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I have no idea, but putting the plug in the 6 o'clock position would leave it more exposed to road debris.
 
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