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Thread: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

  1. #1
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    A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Judy's mom brought her '04 Subaru Forester down when we finally convinced her to get out of "cold country" and stay with us here in Texas and for some time now the A/C compressor has been cutting out and not re-engaging when discharge pressure drops off to cut-in resulting in no cooling. Then it will just kick back in for awhile until it repeats.

    What has been puzzling is the clutch is getting power and the coil checked out with no opens so I was looking for a bad relay, connection or ??? that was causing a voltage drop under load but was coming up empty.

    That's when I turned to good 'ol YouTube and in my search ran across a couple guys that explained the problem was caused by excessive clutch air gap. My situation required unbolting the compressor so I could tip it up to run a tap thru the 5x.80 holes to get the three 100mm long pieces of all-thread from ACE Hardware to screw in to use with my standard 2/3-way puller to pull the hub/disc off.

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    Pulled the total .022" of the two shims out to result in a final gap of the minimum .006". Max is .018".

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    Judy drove it to work tonight (30+ miles) and reported so far so good!

    Hope it helps someone else experiencing the same problem.
    Last edited by duaneb55; 07-08-2016 at 10:22 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Great information, Ford Super Duty with 7.3 have same issue just no puller required.

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    The sad thing is, others experiencing the same problem have been quoted by shops just under $1k to over $3k to fix it!!!
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by duaneb55 View Post
    The sad thing is, others experiencing the same problem have been quoted by shops just under $1k to over $3k to fix it!!!
    Dang man, those are some pretty expensive shims

    Nice repair
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    I went thru the same thing 4 yrs ago. I asked two local shops to adjust the air gap and they just wanted to replace the compressor. I ordered a $25 special tool to remove/replace the clutch to adjust the air gap and it has worked without fail since.
    Mike
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    When l was working on cars we would do a down and dirty test for excessive air gap. When the clutch was energized but didn't engage, we would tap on the clutch plate with a broom handle. The little tap would be enough to close the gap enough to engage the clutch. Then we would know how to proceed with the repair.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by mla2ofus View Post
    I went thru the same thing 4 yrs ago. I asked two local shops to adjust the air gap and they just wanted to replace the compressor.
    I'm not surprised. No doubt those big $$$ quotes were given by "parts changers" rather than true mechanics.

    Quote Originally Posted by mla2ofus View Post
    I ordered a $25 special tool to remove/replace the clutch to adjust the air gap and it has worked without fail since.
    In all my years of working on my own and others vehicles (including A/C systems) I've never run across this. One to file away for sure.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sedanman View Post
    When l was working on cars we would do a down and dirty test for excessive air gap. When the clutch was energized but didn't engage, we would tap on the clutch plate with a broom handle. The little tap would be enough to close the gap enough to engage the clutch. Then we would know how to proceed with the repair.
    Funny you should mention that as I realized while working on it that I could have done that too - had I known what I know now.

    I've always said when you learn something new you reward yourself by going home for the rest of the day. But I'm already there.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Mine would work fine until ambient air temp was 90*+ and then wouldn't engage. I'm guessing as underhood temps got higher the magnet's field would get weaker and this would occur in city driving when underhood air circulation was lowest.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    The ford compressors are the model fs10 they started out being ford built then switched to Visteon. The visteon branded ones were used on fords, volvos,and I'm pretty sure they landed a few on the Subaru cars and even some gm production vehicles. Very common on those to have to pull shims...I've even used a small flap disc on the splined shaft to tighten one up

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Just had that done on my truck, the bill was about 300, that included a new compressor belt. A 1999 Silverodo has its own drive belt, and a top off for the system.

    I went in with what I thought was a worn compressor or clutch bearing . With the idea that I could walk with a bill 500 - 1500. A new compressor clutch or compressor. The thing would squeal like a bad bearing does on a tensioner. I had just changed the serpentine belt and never spotted a secondary belt, imagine my surprise learning that.

    Nice surprise I'd say, then was told about the air gap being out of spec causing the banging when the compressor cycled.

    Very honest shop, only uses Delco parts and never sells rebuilt compressors. Folks can get jacked around real easy on an AC repair.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by mla2ofus View Post
    Mine would work fine until ambient air temp was 90*+ and then wouldn't engage. I'm guessing as underhood temps got higher the magnet's field would get weaker and this would occur in city driving when underhood air circulation was lowest.
    Mike
    90* is mid-morning here Mike. 80 by eight, 90 by nine as the local saying goes.

    The 'ru would cut out (not re-engage) going down the road requiring opening a couple windows to keep from roasting until the clutch would engage again before repeating the process.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    This is good to know. I have some equipment that uses 2 electric clutches.

    I turn the AC on a couple times during winter to keep bearings moving.

    This link has clutches for industrial use.

    http://ogura-clutch.com/

  13. #13
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by duaneb55 View Post
    90* is mid-morning here Mike. 80 by eight, 90 by nine as the local saying goes.

    The 'ru would cut out (not re-engage) going down the road requiring opening a couple windows to keep from roasting until the clutch would engage again before repeating the process.
    Know all about your temps, Duane. We both grew up in Texas and moved back in '08 and in '12 the heat drove us back to Idaho. Found we can endure the cold better than the heat.
    I should have added mine would eventually work soso on the hiway, hardly at all in city driving. It all depended on ambient temp.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Good information to know regarding air gap. I went online last year to compare prices and check availability on a clutch for my F250. When i went to NAPA to buy the clutch,counterman said they only sell clutch with compressor kits. I gave him the stock number and sure enough he had 2 in stock. He told me in the 7 years he worked there mechanics had always ordered the kits and never once ordered a clutch. Naturally when you open the system to change a compressor you have to buy a drier to validate compressor warranty. Once you are that deep,it's reccomended to change the orfice just in case. I've to yet witness a mechanic pumping the system more than 45 minutes and that was only if it was time for lunch.

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Same deal with the electric clutches used on lawn and garden equipment. These clutches used to have adjustments to bring the brake pads in so that we (techs) could adjust the gap after the friction material on the drive face wears. Our optimal gap was 0.010" and once they'd get over about 0.020" and warm, they wouldn't engage. Now-a-days the clutches don't typically have adjustable brakes so we have to replace what is otherwise a perfectly good clutch.

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by Insaneride View Post
    I turn the AC on a couple times during winter to keep bearings moving.
    The defroster cycles the air conditioner.

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by bent View Post
    The defroster cycles the air conditioner.
    But does it engage the clutch and turn the bearings?

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Yes, defroster turns the a/c system on to dry the air blowing onto the windscreen.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Still getting it done. .022". Sheesh!
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by bent View Post
    The defroster cycles the air conditioner.
    Yes it does on modern cars and trucks but he said "equipment" and I am wondering what kind of equipment it is and if the system is the same
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  21. #21
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Quote Originally Posted by duaneb55 View Post
    Still getting it done. .022". Sheesh!
    ???.
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  22. #22
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    A reference to the .022" of shims I only had to remove to fix the problem after dealing with the problem for so long.
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    I turn the AC on in my truck in winter. I didnt know the defroster did the same. Thanks. I do leave the defroster on at night during winter. It helps defrost when truck is off first thing in the winter mornings. Works even better when block heater is plugged in.

    The electric clutches I use on equipment is for a SprayForce texture machine. An 18HP KOHLER runs two clutches. One clutch engages a mixer. The other clutch engages the mud pump. Its really a good system. Newer machines use hydrolics for mixer and pump and have to be level and use lots of gas. The hydrolic setups are a pain. The clutch system handles way more than an AC compressor and look to be about same size. For example, the mixer handles about 800 lbs + of drywall mud. The pump pushes the mud thru 150 feet of 2" hose. The clutches have never slipped that I know of.

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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    Duane, IIRC mine had .040" gap before adjustment, spec called for .030". Of course I've slept since then, LOL!!
    Mike
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    Re: A/C Compressor Clutch Air Gap

    These are E clutches used for construction equipment. The first pic shows the clutch going to a differential. You can see the 12V wire at bottom of pulley. The dif is 1:1.4 and used for mixing. The second pic goes to a 3 speed transmission with reverse. Reverse Transmission runs a stator pump. Only first and second will pump drywall mud. The 3rd gear pumps water for cleanup.

    I havnt had to adjust air gap but its good to know
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