2012 Subaru Impreza AC Compressor Repair
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking Subaru's how are you doing today? Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So today's victim 2012 Subaru Impreza that had an air conditioning problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, the owner brought the vehicle to us with the air conditioning system, not working. And he pointed out to us that you could see the air conditioning clutch was burnt at the front of the air AC compressor. So there was an obvious issue with that part.
Mark: So not a lot of testing and diagnosis needed. Did you do any further stuff and then what happened? How did this happen?
Bernie: Yeah, normally with an air conditioning issue, when a client brings a vehicle to us, we will do a diagnosis on the air conditioning system. Air conditioning is complicated, there's a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of hidden parts or places to leak, the fluid in the air conditioning system, switches from a gas to a liquid, high pressure, low pressure. And there's a number of places the air conditioning system can leak and a number of electrical components that can fail as well.
So diagnosis is complicated. In this case or say it can be commonly in this case, it was very obvious with the compressor burnt. Usually that's a fault of the compressor or the compressor clutch. So there wasn't really anything further required other than to actually replace a compressor to start.
Mark: And how did that happen?
Bernie: It's difficult to say. I will just share a couple of pictures and we'll talk as we go. So there's our 2012 Impreza. The owner's kept in very nice shape. Looks pretty much like a brand new car. It's always nice to work on older vehicles that are in good shape.
Okay, so there's the front of the AC compressor clutch, actually probably better to show a picture of a new good one. This is where the belt runs the air conditioning compressor and it's an electromagnetic clutch. So it receives an electrical signal and the electromagnet closes the clutch and that'll cause a compressor to drive.
If you were to drive the compressor all the time, it's a huge waste of energy. Air conditioning draws a lot of energy from the engine. So, running it only when needed is best and you can obviously see, this looks all rusty and corroded. Basically this compressor was seized and the clutch was burned inside.
So how this happened, there's a few ways this will happen. One is the compressor can actually seize internally. It's like a little motor. It's got pistons inside of it. And valves and plates and a lot of moving parts that can seize up so he could have seized internally. There's also a bearing at the front of the compressor that could have seized.
And there's a very large bearing where the pulley rides and those seize up as well. But when those seize up, usually the belt will burn up pretty quickly. So that was not the case with this vehicle. It was basically this part here, which rotates the compressor was seized. So until we took it apart we weren't exactly a hundred percent certain, but one of the first steps we do as we changed the compressor is to take it out and we drain the oil out of it as best we can to look for any particles. If we find particles, then there are further repairs required. If not, then the compressor itself could probably just be changed and it could be safe.
Here's another view of the two compressors. This is the old one. Here's the new one. You can see some oil, there's an inlet and outlet on the compressor. There's a suction side and the other side is called the discharge side. That's under pressure and as I said, we basically drain this out see if there's any particles in the oil. Fortunately for the owner of this one, there's nothing found, so the failure, it all happened at the front end of this compressor and nothing inside.
Mark: So, would it be possible to just change the clutch or do they come as a unit, the compressor and the clutch?
Bernie: They just come as a unit. There was a time where you could change the clutch. I'm pretty sure in this case, so that the seizure was actually in the compressor, probably the front bearing of the compressor and not the clutch.
There's been times where we've changed clutch bearings, but it's getting to be a rarer and rarer phenomenon, you know, more and more parts and cars are sold as complete units. Unfortunately this compressor is pretty expensive. We put a brand new one in there. There weren't too many options. I'm not a big fan of rebuilt compressors because they, sometimes it lasts a long time, but I say sometimes because other times, you know, one or two years down the road it'll start leaking or fail in some way. So brand new is always better in this case because you know, the repair is going to last a long time.
Mark: And how often do you see this part fail?
Bernie: It's not entirely uncommon. We actually see quite a few AC compressors fail on Subarus, and overall, you know, in cars in general compressors do fail, but maybe, you know, 20% of all the air conditioning problems we run into, maybe 20% of them are compressor failures.
Most problems are leaks, but you know, for any hard part failures, compressors are a pretty common.
Mark: And how are 2012 Subaru Imprezas for reliability.
Bernie: Oh, they're very good. Subaru has gone away from the timing belt on these models. These are chain driven engines, so you don't have that timing belt replacement that's required at usually about 168,000 kilometres. Also the head gaskets, they seemed to fix the head gasket issues because we've never done one yet on one of these type of timing chain driven engines, which is a good thing, because that will be a much more expensive job to do than it would be on the timing belt model engine.
But they seem to be quite reliable. The only complaints I've heard about these engines, we haven't seen it personally, but I've heard, engine oil consumption can be an issue, excessive oil consumption on some of these engines. And there is actually, doing a little research, there's actually a recall on some of these like 2012 to 14 Impreza, some different models, you know, a variety of different models, for valve spring failure. So it's an actual recall from Subaru. So if you do own one of these cars, you could check and make sure that the recall has been done. The valve spring failure will actually cause the engine to run poorly. It could actually, you know, in severe case actually caused quite a major engine problem. So definitely something worth looking at.
Mark: And recalls are done at the dealer.
Bernie: They are done at the dealer. Yeah. Yeah. All recalls are done at the dealer and you can just call a call a Subaru dealer and say, here's my car, here's the VIN number. Am I up to date on my recalls? And they'll know, they have a database, and if you haven't done the recalls, there's possibly a couple others for different things, but that's the only engine related and major one I saw, but yeah, they'll let you know, and a book in and do the job.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Subaru in Vancouver, they've done hundreds of them. The guys to call Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy or check the website, pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos and articles on their all makes and models of cars, all types of repairs or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds of videos on there. And Hey, thanks for watching or listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from. And thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.