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Discussion Starter #1
So my 03 ZX3 has been making this whining noise for the past few days when the A/C clicks on (almost sounds like I have a supercharger on the car), and goes away when the A/C clicks off. The air blows cold on 1-4, and it doesn't take long for it to get pretty chilly. After searching the forums, I believe that I have narrowed it down to being the compressor or the clutch. Is there a way to determine which is more likely the culprit?

Any input would be appreciated.

I'm going to make a video of the noise right now to post for a better idea of the sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #2

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The compressors on our cars are noisy to begin with. My brother had 65k miles on his '04 when he got it and its making the same noise my '03 with 120k miles.

Its the compressor making the noise, the clutch is either on or off, especially if its blowing cold air, same as mine. I've accepted thats its noisy, its blowing cold air, afterall.
 

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I'd go with checking lots of things before I replaced the compressor, and I wouldn't replace it until it stopped working. As long as it's blowing cold air- leave that critter alone.

How old is the serpentine belt? The new EPDM belts don't look like the old neoprene/ fiber belts that would show threads through the back when bad. These wear out underneath, and don't crack and break ribs. You should also make sure that the tensioner is strong enough to do it's job, and that the idler pulley spins freely- which is probably will. There's more of a strain on the belt and accessories when the AC is running, so a nearly all bad tensioner might not let the belt slip until the compressor is on. The idler is probably fine- if it's not, then the whine is a result of more strain on the belt with the compressor on as well.
 

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The problem is that the compressor is making the sound pretty plainly. it sounds as if it's starved for oil or can't move the refrigerant (which, as it happens, would starve it for oil, because the oil gets into the compressor as a mist in the refrigerant). It could be a number of things. Were it my car, I'd hook a set of gauges up to it (or get a mechanic to do it, SOME places will do it for cheap/free) to see what the pressures look like on either side of the compressor.
 

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The problem is that the compressor is making the sound pretty plainly. it sounds as if it's starved for oil or can't move the refrigerant (which, as it happens, would starve it for oil, because the oil gets into the compressor as a mist in the refrigerant). It could be a number of things. Were it my car, I'd hook a set of gauges up to it (or get a mechanic to do it, SOME places will do it for cheap/free) to see what the pressures look like on either side of the compressor.
Um, oil is intentionally mixed with refrigerant because that's how the system is lubricated. Without oil, the compressor won't put out good cold air. It will put out lukewarm air until it destroys itself. If it's not moving the refrigerant, then it wouldn't be compressing refrigerant, and there wouldn't be cold air then either. Most of the time low oil is caused by low refrigerant, or improper recharging after a slow leak. Unless your leak is somewhere at the top of the AC system, then there will be oil lost as well. However, like I said, if you run out of oil- your compressor doesn't work well anyway, so you'd already have taken it somewhere for a leak fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Replaced the serpentine belt, and both the tensioner and idler pullies, the whine is still there.

I will take it to a shop to have pressures checked, and if that's good, I will deal with the noise until it either goes away on its own (lol) or the compressor decides to kick the bucket.

I guess I should be happy that the car drives and the air blows cold. Thanks guys!
 

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A/C Compressor whine

mikeb0916,

Did you ever diagnose your A/C whine officially?? Mine is doing the same thing, it's the compressor but I might change the belt for the hell of it. Sounds like a powersteering whine when it's low on fluid only when the a/c clutch is engaged. Air works great however. I also have 180,000 and mostly EVERYTHING is origional. :)
 

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Seems like this thread was resurrected, so I'll throw my two cents in.

Prior to my focus, I owned a 1999 Infiniti g20t. I had the same problem, turn the A/C on and car sounded supercharged. I took the car to a shop and they told me that it was the clutch on the compressor. Sadly for that car they didn't sell the clutch assembly by itself, had to buy a new compressor.
So my two cents here is that maybe yes there is other strain on the serpentine system making it louder but most of the sound is stemming from the A/c compressor's clutch assembly.
 

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Correct, common for dying clutch bearing to whine like that............easy enough to check, yank belt and spin pulley, you'll feel it.
 

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Hey all thank you for all the replys!!! I appreciate it! Yah I kind of figured that, like I said it's bound to happen with that many miles. Got a buddy that can replace it for pretty cheap and recharge. Too bad you can't just replace the bearings!! For now i'll try not to use it so much (don't want it to lock up as I drive an hour one way to work on the freeway)

Brad
 
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