1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee air conditioner problem - JeepForum.com
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Unread 08-10-2013, 09:19 PM   #1
blueribb
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1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee air conditioner problem

About a year or so ago I noticed the air conditioner in my Jeep was not that cold anymore, just cool. It would take quite a while to even get cool. I waited until I need additional service and then had it checked at a large local dealer while having a steering problem corrected. They said they could find no leak but that the system needed freon since it was a little low. They added a dye with the freon and told me if it acted up again, they could tell exactly where the leak was. The air was cold for an entire year.

About 2 weeks ago I hear a really loud metallic clanking noise under the hood and realized the fan clutch had failed and the fan was sliding forward and hitting the shroud. I took it to same dealer again and they replaced the fan clutch and told me there was no damage to the fan or the shroud. When I picked up the Jeep and headed on a service call, I noticed the air conditioner was blowing warm air. I left it on for the entire trip to and from the call. I called the dealer before they closed the same day and the service writer found out the tech had evacuated the system in order to remove the compressor and replace the fan clutch assembly but forgot to charge the system with freon. They told me to bring it by the next morning and they would charge it while I wait. I asked the service writer if any damage could have occurred since I was running the system without freon. She said no.

About a week later and no cold air again. They refilled the system a second time and found no leak. They said if it fails again I would need an evaporator assembly which is located behind the dash. The part costs $150 and the labor is about $600.

A week went by and I did not use the air since the weather was in the 70’s. Today I tried it and low and behold – no cold air again.

A quick google search seems to say that running a compressor with low or no freon charge could damage it. (the opposite of what the dealer said)

I can’t prove the air conditioner worked when I took it in last month for the fan clutch but I don’t feel like spending $700 – 800 fixing something they might have damaged.

I’m going to call the dealer first thing Monday morning or better yet, I might take a ride there and discuss the matter.

Any comments ?

133,000 miles
garage kept since new
6 cyl automatic

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Unread 08-10-2013, 09:25 PM   #2
StPaul59
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To prevent damage the compressor will NOT run if you are low enough or empty. Unless you stick a paper clip or wire in the accumulator plug.
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Unread 08-10-2013, 10:08 PM   #3
coralman
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I have no idea why you would need to remove the compressor to replace a fan clutch at all, on a 98 4.0.
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Unread 08-10-2013, 10:49 PM   #4
StPaul59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coralman View Post
I have no idea why you would need to remove the compressor to replace a fan clutch at all, on a 98 4.0.
No kidding!
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Unread 08-10-2013, 11:01 PM   #5
SchizophrenicMC
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The compressor clutch will not engage if the system is dry. The A/C operates using a number of sensors, including a system pressure sensor, which shuts the compressor off if system pressure is too high or too low.

Anyway I'm thinking you have a leaky seal somewhere in the system. If it's not that, you might have a bad compressor, though I doubt that would have anything to do with trying to run it while dry. If it is a bad compressor, I suggest finding and installing a salvage compressor, because there's no reason to spend dealership money on a 15 year old Jeep's air conditioner. Actually, pretty much any part that breaks in the A/C system, find a salvage unit for significantly cheaper than dealer price and install it yourself, or even take it to the neighborhood mechanic to do it. I avoid shops, but I really avoid stealerships.
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Unread 08-11-2013, 07:21 AM   #6
blueribb
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I saw the compressor's clutch kicking in and out when there was no Freon. I guess the sensor did it's job then. I'm in my sixties and not a mechanic by trade. I have to rely on qualified mechanics for my Jeep repairs. The mechanic said replacing the fan clutch assembly took much, much longer than anticipated because of the length of bolts or something like that. He said the radiator and other parts needed to be removed to replace it. I was charged $300 total for that repair. It took an entire day even though their books stated a few hours.

I used an independent mechanic for many years until they damaged my Jeep and caused more issues than what was fixed. Since then I decided to use a large dealer instead. Their service staff only repairs Chrysler autos. I know I'm paying up to twice what a normal mechanic would charge but I feel much safer now. It's much cheaper to repair a good running older vehicle than buy a new one and waste mega bucks - especially at my age. I like my old Jeep. To me, it still looks and runs like new.
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Unread 08-11-2013, 07:25 AM   #7
dusterdude
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The clutch should NOT be engaging if the system is low,if it is,there is a serious issue somewhere
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Unread 08-11-2013, 09:16 AM   #8
zj97ltd
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In my experience, when it comes to a/c, around here at least, it's best to go to an actual automotive a/c place. That's all they do, so in theory they should know better than anyone else. FWIW I had the evaporator on my '93 Laredo changed back in '99 I think, and it was an $800 job. The guy swore he'd never do another ZJ again lol.
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Unread 08-12-2013, 08:45 AM   #9
V65Ozzie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueribb View Post
I saw the compressor's clutch kicking in and out when there was no Freon. I guess the sensor did it's job then. I'm in my sixties and not a mechanic by trade. I have to rely on qualified mechanics for my Jeep repairs. The mechanic said replacing the fan clutch assembly took much, much longer than anticipated because of the length of bolts or something like that. He said the radiator and other parts needed to be removed to replace it. I was charged $300 total for that repair. It took an entire day even though their books stated a few hours.

I used an independent mechanic for many years until they damaged my Jeep and caused more issues than what was fixed. Since then I decided to use a large dealer instead. Their service staff only repairs Chrysler autos. I know I'm paying up to twice what a normal mechanic would charge but I feel much safer now. It's much cheaper to repair a good running older vehicle than buy a new one and waste mega bucks - especially at my age. I like my old Jeep. To me, it still looks and runs like new.
It's called short cycling, happens when the system is low on freon.
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Unread 08-12-2013, 09:13 AM   #10
blueribb
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I called the dealer this morning and they admitted not adding dye with the Freon the first time I started having trouble. The tech cut corners and thought it would never come back at him. I told them the air was working normally when I came in for the fan clutch replacement and it's not working now. I said I want it fixed at no charge and they scheduled a third appointment for tomorrow morning. I'll update when I get it back.
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Unread 08-12-2013, 09:15 AM   #11
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by V65Ozzie View Post
It's called short cycling, happens when the system is low on freon.
Yes when it's empty the clutch won't come on at all. When it's low it will keep turning on and off. When it's full it will stay on.
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Unread 08-12-2013, 09:57 AM   #12
Uniblurb
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That is insane they removed the AC compressor, along with the radiator, for merely installing a new fan clutch. Chrysler wrote the FSM (Factory Service Manual) for dealer mechanics to follow and they must have turned a "blind-eye" to it on your repair. The 96 FSM (should be the same for the 98) for the 4.0 states, "Remove four fan hub-to-water pump pulley mounting nuts, remove the 2 fan to shroud-to-upper radiator crossmember mounting bolts, remove the fan, viscous fan drive, and fan shroud as an assembly.". You don't even need to remove the belt which holds the water pump pulley on! If the 4 water pump pulley studs are too long I can see maybe having to remove the upper radiator crossmember to slightly tilt the rad back but they had no business removing all those other parts!

While the evaporators in the dash are known to fail/leak kind of a strange coincidence this started right after they removed the compressor. They best leak test the system with UV dye in the 134 charge to make sure that's what it is before throwing parts at it. And if the evaporator does need replaced also replace the heater core at the same time. The main labor costs are in removing/installing the dash along with the HVAC box. Good luck and I'd be complaining big time!
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Unread 08-12-2013, 09:29 PM   #13
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If the evaporator core in the dash was leaking you would be able to smell it inside your jeep. Had to replace one on my wife's 98 grand years ago. It started leaking and it was a horrible smell inside the jeep. Just last week took my daughters 98 grand to a friend of mine cause I could put Freon in and get the air working and two days later it was gone. I couldn't smell anything on the inside and I couldn't see any of the fittings around the compressor or see any visual leaks at the condenser so I let my mechanic friend see what he could find since he is great at fixing a/c troubles. One thing we looked at when I dropped it off was how rusty looking the dryer/accumulator looked. He put dye in it and sure enough the dryer was leaking. He replaced the dryer and vacuumed the system and charged it back up and it works great now. Cost me $272 bucks but worth it for a/c in this august heat. May possibly be whats leaking on yours!!
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Unread 08-13-2013, 06:30 AM   #14
blueribb
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I'm on the way there in a few minutes. I'll give them a heads up on the dryer/accumulator. Thanks for the tip. I'll update this thread.
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Unread 08-13-2013, 09:00 AM   #15
blueribb
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I just got a call from the dealer. They said the dryer/accumulator is not rusted and not a suspect as the system holds a vacuum. They said they detected Freon inside the passenger compartment and used a "sniffer" inserted in the vents to verify the leak. I never smelled anything. They are checking with the service manager to see if he approves any needed repairs at their cost since it was working when I brought the vehicle in for the fan clutch repair. I won't name the dealer but they are one of the largest multi-brand dealers in the entire country.
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