2009 Subaru Impreza, A/C Compressor Repair
Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of course, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 19 time winners, 19 times voted by their customers as Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: So we're talking about a Subaru Impreza today, a 2009. It was an AC compressor issue. What was going on with this Subaru?
Bernie: So this vehicle came in with basically the belt drive in the AC compressor was gone and the compressor pulley was seized up. The compressor pulley bearing had failed and caused the belt to basically burn off.
Mark: And there was no belt there at all?
Bernie: No. No belt there at all.
Bernie: The belt is always turning with the engine running and the compressor pulley of course is always being driven. The compressor does switch on and off with the clutch but the actual pulley's always being driven. So if that seizes up belts will break.
Mark: So this Impreza was driving around with its pants down basically?
Bernie: Yeah. Kind of, yeah. I mean it drives fine without the belt on because the belt only drives the AC compressor which is a good thing in that respect. It doesn't affect the rest of the vehicle but the AC was no longer functioning.
Mark: So what kind of repair needed to be done on this?
Bernie: So basically the compressor needed to be replaced and I'll just get right into some pictures here so we can have a look at things. But yeah, basically the compressor needed to be replaced to solve the issue, and the belt of course.
So this is our old compressor here, the original compressor with both drive belts off. This is the alternator over here. And the red area basically point to the ... You can see a sort of burnt area here. This is basically the compressor clutch assembly and this pulley here which rotates at all times with the engine running, it basically seized. You couldn't turn it.
And unfortunately I didn't get a video capture of it but is you stuck your hand on that pulley you would be able to wobble this thing back and forth. It was very loose so the bearing had basically worn out. It was very loose and of course caused this all to fail. At one time you could buy just the compressor clutches for vehicles and replace them. And if you did enough digging you could probably actually, possibly come up with a bearing replacement but usually at least by this point it's probably damaged the clutch pretty badly running loose.
So you'd want to replace the whole thing at this point. But sometimes if you have a bearing in early stages of failure you can replace it, but those parts are getting very hard to find nowadays. It's kind of replace the whole assembly type of thing which happens a lot in modern car repairs. This is our new compressor mounted. You can see it's much shinier and clean so this is what the ... The hoses are not attached to the system but that's basically the belt installed and new compressor put in place.
Mark: So, is this a large job?
Bernie: As far as air-conditioning no. I mean labor-wise it's not particularly difficult to do but it does involve of course evacuating the air-conditioning refrigerant and then recharging the system afterwards. But as far as actual component replacement it's one of the easier items to do on an air-conditioning system. I mean the evaporator is definitely the worst because that's located behind the dash and you have to tear the whole ... generally you have to tear the whole dash out on 99% of cars. There are a couple where you don't but yeah, 99% of vehicles you have to tear the whole dash apart to get the evaporator. So this is a pretty easy job to do. The parts are generally not that cheap though so it does end up being a pricey repair but it's not too difficult labor-wise.
Mark: And is this a fairly common failure on Subarus?
Bernie: Not particularly. I mean any vehicle, these bearings will fail but it's not an everyday failure item we see. Certainly not as predictable as head gaskets are on these cars.
Mark: And would the car owner have any warning prior to the failure?
Bernie: Yes. Normally you would. You'd normally hear a sound coming from the engine. There'd normally be some sort of grating sound, a grindy sound. As so sometimes it can be a little subtle but normally you should be able to hear something and certainly before the belt failed it probably made some very loud screeching noises. But by that point it's definitely too late.
Mark: So it's winter now in Vancouver which means no need for air-condition. Would it have been possible to have left this repair for warmer weather?
Bernie: So in this particular car, certainly you could have because as I said, the compressor's driven by its own belt. If you have a vehicle with a serpentine belt and that's a belt that drives all the components you really can't do that because you have to have that piece in there. Some cars you can actually get a shorter belt or an auxiliary pulley but it doesn't really make sense to do that for the most part. So the answer is, yes you could have left it but one thing about air-conditioning it actually provides an awesome defrosting function it's really just as useful in winter as it is in the summertime. I mean in the summer you want it to keep you cool but in the wintertime air-conditioning dries the air so it will defrost your windshield extremely quickly. And it's very noticeable if you have a car where you can turn the air-conditioning on and off with the defrost or triad you'll see just how effective having good working air-conditioning is. It will defrost your window very fast.
Mark: Or defog it
Bernie: Defog it, yeah. Exactly. Not frost. We say the word frost. Yeah, defog, get the fog off the inside of the windscreen. So yeah. It makes a huge difference and that's really a safety feature having that. And it actually saves you on fuel because you could sit in front of your house and turn the heat on for 10 minutes and then you've wasted a bunch of gas. But if you turn your air-conditioning on, one minute later its defogged and away you go. So it's a good thing to have working year round. And of course as it cycles year round it keeps everything moving and it actually keeps the components lasting longer than it would at other times of the year.
Mark: So there you go. If you have a Subaru in Vancouver and you need some maintenance or some repairs the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to keep your windows fog-free or any other kind of repairs or maintenance. You have to call ahead to book because they're busy, unlike many other shops. Or else checkout our website pawlikautomotive.com, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair, hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models and types of repairs as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for watching. We really appreciate it.