Jim Grant's Tech Tips
SL-2, Questionable A/C Repairs
Q: I own a '93 Saturn SL-2 with an air conditioner problem.
The A/C gives cool, not cold air, and the garage said that the compressor
needs to be replaced at the cost of $400. For a short-term fix, would
juicing up the A/C with more Freon do anything to make it colder? Or will
it never be cold again? Basically, if the compressor is shot, would I
still be getting some cool air or is it a simpler problem?
A/C compressor is a mechanical pump. If the pump is weak adding additional
refrigerant will not make a weak pump, pump any better. If adding more
refrigerant does make the A/C system cooler then I would question the
diagnosis, (does it really need a compressor?). A word of caution, if
the A/C compressor is noisy "!DO NOT!" operate the A/C system. Before
an A/C compressor fully fails it can pump itís insides into the rest of
the A/C system. The cost to remove the debris from the rest of the system
will make $400 look like a deal.