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How to dismantle aircon system safely?


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The drive belt pulley wheel assembly on the aircon compressor of my wifes car is about to collapse and take the auxillary belt with it.

 

Have removed belt, alternator and removed compressor from its mountings but really need to detach compressor completely to see what the problem is. I have never worked on aircon before so dont really know what I can safely do with regards to discharging refrigerant and disconnecting components.

 

Is this a big no no or can I safely depressurise the system, get the compressor off and repair/replace and refit - would obviously get system regassed afterwards. Any pointers or general advice or am I seriously putting my own safety at risk. All manuals advise to stay well clear unless you want frostbite injuries etc ... surely it cant be that difficult?

 

There are two pressure release valves in the engine bay that I can see, which one is which and once the system is depressurised is there any risk of being hurt by residual refrigerant escape? Is it then just a case of reassembly and a regas?

 

Sorry to sound so dumb but never touched aircon before.

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The smaller one is low pressure side of the system and the larger high pressure. You won't get frostbite. On the ford systems there are joins in the pipes held together with M6 or M8 nuts, you can split the system here, stand well back and put some marigolds on. Probably be able to get the nut right off whilst holding the lines together then stand well back and pop them. Put some newspaper down as loads of horrible green fluid will come out with the gas.

 

Hope this helps, anything else you need PM.

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Thanks very much Chris -

 

There doesn't seem to be any unions other than at the compressor itself or the regulators. I was able to move the compressor out of the way and get enough access to it whilst still plumbed in to ascertain that the clutch/pulley assembly is definitely fecked. Secured it safely to the lower crossmember and fitted up a s/h compressor - at least the car can run safely now. Explains why a/c has been n/s for a while. Given that I'll need to pay for someone to recharge the system I may as well get them to discharge the existing refrigerant and connect up new compressor - shouldn't cost any more. Biggest issue was that my wife had a major "green" moment :banghead: on Saturday morning when she heard the whoosh of gas for the second time having already gone beserk earlier when I was opening the release valve.

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