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Seized compressor, not enough oil?

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
1997 - 2000 S70, S70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70, V70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70-XC
1997 - 2004 C70

JimBee
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Seized compressor, not enough oil?

Post by JimBee » Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:47 pm

I think the trickiest part is getting the oil right.

I have a seized compressor that should have had the right amount of oil delivered by the machine that "just knows how much it needs."
The machine is not mine. Last summer, I couldn't get the old dryer disconnected so had the local shop do it, then (they said) they pumped down the system and the machine added the right amount of oil. I had cold air for about 7 weeks, then near the end of the season it went to cool and warm.

I let it be until last week, when I put a gauge on it and discovered the system was a little low. So I added about half a can. wondering about the oil. At that point, I had no way of knowing how much oil was in the system and didn't want to start over. Since it should have been correct, I decided to just add the refrigerant. I should have taken it to a reputable dedicated A/C shop and had them do the pump down and refill. The clutch gap was wide though the clutch was cycling on-off. I shimmed it down to .012. As I proceeded to add some R134, the compressor started to smoke and froze up.

Is there a moral here? I don't know. That car has more than 160K miles, maybe the compressor was naturally shot and just gave it up.

But I suspect the local shop's machine didn't get the oil right after the system was fully open and closed back up. I was suspicious of it then, but the techs assured me the machine knows how much oil is needed. I asked the shop manager how much his guys put it, he said, "what it calls for". He wouldn't give me an amount. I suspect they didn't add any to the new dryer, just set the machine....
When I went to pick up the car (last summer) after they'd replaced the dryer, I started the engine, drove about 3 feet and the union at the dryer blew apart with refrigerant and dye all over. They put it back together and it stayed together. Did they properly pump it down? Add oil for a new component? Again? At that point, they probably didn't know how much oil was in the system, since it literally exploded. What did they assume?
There isn't any way to prove they did things wrong since I wasn't there to watch them work.

This time around, I should have stage zeroed it with a dedicated shop. I eat this one.

At about the same time last summer, the same shop also worked on my other 850 A/C system which blew cold for a few weeks then went to warm. All the 0-rings leaked, system pressure went to zero. Did they overcharge it? Is the evaporator damaged?

I'm going to replace the 0-rings in that system but then take it to a dedicated shop for the remainder of the service.

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Re: Seized compressor, not enough oil?

Post by MadeInJapan » Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:03 pm

It's hard to know about the oil but 2 different cars, messing up after being worked on by the same shop- I'm with you- time for a better place to do your A/C work.
'98 S70 T5 Emrld Grn Met/Beige Tons of Upgrades Mobil-1
'04 V70 2.5T Red/Taupe Some Upgrades Mobil-1
'07 S40 T5 AWD 6 speed manual! Silver/Black Stage1 Heico & Elevate
'07 S60 2.5T Blue/Taupe- my kid's Volvo

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Re: Seized compressor, not enough oil?

Post by Ozark Lee » Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:39 pm

The violent eruption that you describe when the hose blew apart would have necessitated starting at zero per the service manual. There is a chart that prescribes the amount of oil to add when various components are changed but it is footnoted that, in the event of a burst, the entire quantity of PAG oil should be added back to the system.

Pumping the system down to a vacuum in and of itself doesn't take very much oil with it but when a high pressure burst occurs it spews most of the oil out along with the refrigerant.

Were you adding the R-134A as a liquid or a vapor? Can pointed up or down? If you were adding it as liquid it is possible that the compressor hydro-locked but you need to add a bunch of refrigerant quickly to get that to happen. If the compressor truly grenaded then you really need to flush the system with a refrigeration flush and change out the orifice tube and the condenser core along with the accumulator or the fine metal particles that flowed through the system will quickly take out your replacement compressor. The condenser core cannot be flushed due to its design but a junk yard core should work fine as long as it didn't have a bad compressor as well.

...Lee
'94 850 N/A 5 speed
'96 Platinum Edition Turbo
Previous:
1999 V70XC - Nautic Blue - Totaled while parked.
1999 V70XC - RIP - Wrecked Parts Car.
1998 S70 T5
1996 850 N/A
1989 740 GLT
1986 740 GLT
1972 142 Grand Luxe

JimBee
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Re: Seized compressor, not enough oil?

Post by JimBee » Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:24 pm

The plot thickens. This is the first I've heard of can up or down for liquid or vapor. I thought the tutorials prescribed rotating and shaking as the R134A is being added, which is what I was doing. The outside temperature was around 85F which is where the indicator was set on the dispenser dial as I was filling it. Pressure was into the green range, but still a little low and only very slowly building further toward the target arrow, about in the middle of the green range.

What blew apart last summer was the girdle spring union at the dryer. The whole area around the p.s. headlight and surroundings were wet with the contents.

The other day when the compressor seized I didn't hear any metallic fragmenting, grinding or anything, and I wasn't driving when it happened so as soon as I smelled then saw some smoke I cut the ignition.

Actually, I do have a condenser that came with a newish radiator from the junk yard, so I could use that. I also have a junk yard compressor from an 850 system that was fully pressurized, so I could use that, too.

That base 855 5 sp manual with the seized compressor runs really well and is wonderful with the cruise control set at 70 mph, on smooth roads—with working A/C. Rear suspension needs repairs so it's kind of clunky on ruddy roads. I do have an alternative.

The 855 AT burgundy is much classier and tighter. I might take a road trip this season and I'll probably use that one, hopefully with a working A/C and the cruise needs to be fixed. The 0-ring seals all leaked a few weeks after "repair" last summer and that system is flat empty, so I'm going to replace the 0-rings, then have it tested at a dedicated shop to see what I've got and go from there.

JimBee
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Re: Seized compressor, not enough oil?

Post by JimBee » Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:21 am

Also, from Ozark Lee above "...but it is footnoted that, in the event of a burst, the entire quantity of PAG oil should be added back to the system."

Whether the techs last summer even added oil after the system was open and the dryer was repaired is questionable, but then after it violently blew open what did they do? Just put it back together? I will ask the shop manager if he is aware of that footnote.

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