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AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on Volvo XC90s. The XC90 proved to be very popular, and very good for Volvo's sales numbers, since its introduction in model year 2003 (North America).
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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by Volvo Kush » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:35 pm

I attempted the zip tie fix today and failed miserably.
There is absolutely no way to reach it from the top and there is no access panel behind the wheel either. Hell, even measuring the gap was a challenge (had to build a primitive extension for my feeler gauge.) The compressor is surrounded by frames, turbo tubes and other stuff.
I ended up partially removing the bumper cover to access the clutch plate from under the vehicle (see pictures). I started with some heat resistant medium sized zip ties. As I pushed the tip of one of them through the "ring" it closed the gap completely, even though the tip is much thinner than the tie itself. I switched to stainless steel ties (~0.28mm thick) but couldn't do it efficiently due to the lack of space and ended up bending the tie which made it extremely difficult to proceed with the installation. It took way too much time (~1.5h) and decreased the gap to only about 0.45mm. I decided to simply jam in 2 small plastic ties and cut the excess (didn't even tie them, just wanted to make it work to prove the concept), which I did to no avail. I will attempt the bread clip trick tomorrow since it was nearly impossible to blindly install the ties. Might also look into removing the windshield fluid reservoir to gain a little bit more room.

Potato camera photos here:

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by abscate » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:29 am

The P2 wagons are much harder than the P80s - I don't have an XC90 but it sounds like its the same.
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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by oragex » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:02 pm

Now that's a tight place. The S60 is quite a bit larger, still not easy to insert tabs. I actually cut and slide in some spark plug shims and bent them in place because once the plate rotates it will throw them right away. Just make sure the plate makes no noise or the clutch material will disappear within hours.

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by Volvo Kush » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:38 pm

Volvo Kush wrote: UPDATE 1:
So today I gave the stainless steel ties another try, jammed each of them through each side of the ring spring in such way that zip tie passes under the rubber thingy *see pictures below**. Managed to reduce the gap to a tight 0.4 and 0.5mm by moving the ties a little and later on, to a tight 0.3mm by adding bread clips. Neither setup made it blow cold air again.

Frustrated, I even tried to tap (very firmly and convincingly with the engine running and A/C button on) on the clutch plate with a wooden stick to make the gap close and force the compressor to work but, surprisingly, it didn't. I also observed that the clutch plate becomes harder and harder to turn manually as I add extra zip ties, even though the gap was nowhere close to 0.3mm. Not that it was spinning freely without them but...

Anyway, as before, the only way to engage the clutch is by starting the vehicle (runs for 5-10s) or by overriding the relay with a paper clip.

Pictures: http://imgur.com/a/kJUiu

Am I doing something wrong or is this solution just not for everyone?
Is it risky to simply jam in a paper clip when I really need A/C? Is the circuit still protected by a fuse?

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by Volvo Kush » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:29 pm

oragex wrote:Now that's a tight place. The S60 is quite a bit larger, still not easy to insert tabs. I actually cut and slide in some spark plug shims and bent them in place because once the plate rotates it will throw them right away. Just make sure the plate makes no noise or the clutch material will disappear within hours.
That's exactly what happened to my bread clips after I tried to loosen them up a little. I'm glad I didn't use metal plates...

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by oragex » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:00 pm

Could the system be overcharged?

Basically the 'gap' has to be as small possible without the clutch to grind on the pulley when it's not engaged. Given it doesn't engage at all, assuming there is correct pressure in the system, I'd try getting an evaporator sensor from another car and swap it see what it does. This sensor is a thermistor that feels the cold air inside the evaporator and tells the compressor to engage/disengage the clutch. but normally when this sensor fails it does the opposite: it prevents the clutch from disengaging. I'd also check the wire at the compressor magneto is properly secured (it activates the clutch).

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by Volvo Kush » Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:34 am

oragex wrote:Could the system be overcharged?

Basically the 'gap' has to be as small possible without the clutch to grind on the pulley when it's not engaged. Given it doesn't engage at all, assuming there is correct pressure in the system, I'd try getting an evaporator sensor from another car and swap it see what it does. This sensor is a thermistor that feels the cold air inside the evaporator and tells the compressor to engage/disengage the clutch. but normally when this sensor fails it does the opposite: it prevents the clutch from disengaging. I'd also check the wire at the compressor magneto is properly secured (it activates the clutch).
Hi and thanks for your reply!

I removed the wire and plugged it back in - no improvement. It's a 1 wire plug, so I guess the negative goes through the compressor body.
I located the evaporator sensor, I will try to go to some of those places that sell used S60 S80 V70 XC70 XC90 (source: https://goo.gl/UfIqAl) and ask them if I could swap their evaporator for a fee.

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by Volvo Kush » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:52 pm

I had my CCM codes read!

CCM-001F air quality sensor: Signal too high
CCM-0020 air quality sensor: Signal too low
CCM-0004 compressor: Faulty signal

Screen picture here: CCM codes XC90 2003 - Album on Imgur

Where are these sensors located?

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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by abscate » Sun Aug 21, 2016 5:47 am

Volvo Kush wrote:
Volvo Kush wrote: UPDATE 1:
So today I gave the stainless steel ties another try, jammed each of them through each side of the ring spring in such way that zip tie passes under the rubber thingy *see pictures below**. Managed to reduce the gap to a tight 0.4 and 0.5mm by moving the ties a little and later on, to a tight 0.3mm by adding bread clips. Neither setup made it blow cold air again.

Frustrated, I even tried to tap (very firmly and convincingly with the engine running and A/C button on) on the clutch plate with a wooden stick to make the gap close and force the compressor to work but, surprisingly, it didn't. I also observed that the clutch plate becomes harder and harder to turn manually as I add extra zip ties, even though the gap was nowhere close to 0.3mm. Not that it was spinning freely without them but...

Anyway, as before, the only way to engage the clutch is by starting the vehicle (runs for 5-10s) or by overriding the relay with a paper clip.

Pictures: http://imgur.com/a/kJUiu

Am I doing something wrong or is this solution just not for everyone?
Is it risky to simply jam in a paper clip when I really need A/C? Is the circuit still protected by a fuse?

I missed this earlier. If your compressor comes on with a relay override then th e clutch gap is NOT your problem

You either have too low/ high pressure or faulty ECC signals from the ECC controller
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Re: AC compressor clutch doesn't engage

Post by Roger_850T » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:22 pm

I agree with abscate. If the compressor comes on when you jumper the relay, then the clutch gap is NOT your problem. (It may be that it's worn, and will need addressing at some point, but that's not the issue today.) I think you also said you swapped the relay, no difference. So, the question is why is the relay not being energized. Some thoughts:
1. It is low on refrigerant (low pressure cutout). Despite what the shop said, it may be low.
2. Too much refrigerant (high pressure cutout). Or condenser fan not working, and the pressure gets too high due to no condensing.
3. Other issue (incorrectly getting no call to turn on?)

I'll have to research what is supposed to turn it on.

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'05 XC90 V8 140k
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'03 S80 111k (crashed)
'93 945T 217k (gone to be parted out)
'87 245 300k+ sold, still going
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