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Unread 07-10-2011, 05:00 PM   #1
2011 WK 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Bear, DE, Delaware
Posts: 231
'96 ZJ - DIY Compressor Replacement?

Hello all,

I've been fighting failing AC for some time now, and as my '96 ZJ has 354,700 miles on it, I'm hesitant to spent $700+ on a shop to replace the compressor.

I can tell the refrigerant is leaking at the clutch/pulley.

So the problem before has been finding a shop that would discharge the AC system for me to do the repair myself. The ones I checked said they aren't allowed to.

Well, right now, the leak has gotten bad enough that when I check the pressure on the low side, there is ZERO pressure in the system. Does that mean I might as well just tackle the compressor swap myself, and then take it to a shop to charge up? I know the compressor alone is probably $300, but I don't want to spend $700+ on repair.

Any info would be great. It's well up in the '90F around here this time of year, so I'm dying without AC.

1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited - 5.2L V8
366,700 miles (4/21/12)

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - 3.6L V6
87,000 (01/25/15)
muzicman82 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 07-11-2011, 08:58 AM   #2
Registered User
1995 ZJ 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Flatsville, IA
Posts: 2,690
Stop by the shop you're gonna use and tell them what you said here. They're probably going to advise you to replace the accumulator/drier too, which is a silver can up on the firewall. Since the system leaked out, it's also leaked humidity in, hence the drier replacement.

It's kinda ghetto but I made a home vacuum kit by chopping the hose off one of those quickcharge cans. It's hooked to my air powered fluid extractor but a guy could probably make it work with a hand powered mityvac and some determination. You don't need a ton of vacuum, it's more of a time thing (20 minutes). The idea is moisture leaves the air when pressure drops, so by sealing under vacuum before charge there's less moisture sealed inside. There's always gonna be some air, but the moisture it carries is the real enemy. Make sure the remaining air is dry with the 20 minute hold.

If you have access to any kind of air conditioned or dehumidified garage, that's the place to do the vacuum and initial pressurization of the system. Working in dry air makes any air-introduction mistakes less significant. You only have to hook up the first can of freon with the car off and generate 2psi. At this point it'll blow out as you hook/unhook, so the car can go outside for the running portion of the fill.

You can then recharge using the little cans, just have em trickling freon very slowly when hooked up so you're not introducing a hose-length of air with every can. You mentioned having a low side gauge, so do the research on system volume and know how many cans the system holds. (most cars seem around 3.5) Use the gauge to verify that much freon makes acceptable low side pressure, and it ought to be blowing ice cubes.

I've also seen an old timer leave a vacuum on cars for several hours instead of replacing the accumulator. The drier is just dessicant crystals, and his logic was if you left them under vacuum long enough they'd release moisture. Essentially recharging the dessicant. Customer cars all got new accumulators but employee cars were hooked to the machine all day.

good luck
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