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Old 06-10-2011, 23:11   #1 (permalink)
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1998 Escort Air Conditioner

My wife asked me to do something about her Escort's air conditioning system: She indicated that the air isn't nearly as cold as it was last season.

How do I diagnose the problem? I vaguely recall that it's often a matter of "recharging" the freon (or whatever else they use these days), but I don't know how to go about determining if that's what's needed here and, if so, how to actually do it.

TIA.
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Old 06-11-2011, 11:11   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

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Originally Posted by MrBluster View Post
My wife asked me to do something about her Escort's air conditioning system: She indicated that the air isn't nearly as cold as it was last season.

How do I diagnose the problem? I vaguely recall that it's often a matter of "recharging" the freon (or whatever else they use these days), but I don't know how to go about determining if that's what's needed here and, if so, how to actually do it.

TIA.
CLARIFICATION:

I took the car out for a ride to get a clearer understanding of the problem....

The air conditioner works, and the air indeed is cold. However, after a while, the air ceases to be cold...it's simply the outside air being drawn in.

According to my wife, that's been her experience: The A/C works for a while, but after about 15 minutes, it stops blowing cold air (the air still is blowing in, but it's not cold). About 15 minutes later, the air again becomes cold. This "on-off" cycle repeats itself about every 15 minutes, during which the fan remains on continuously, and there is no obvious indication that the compressor has been disengaged/re-engaged (i.e., no sudden sound or vibration that one would expect to hear/feel when the compressor turns off/on).

So, it seems that it is not simply a matter of "recharging" the freon.
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Old 06-11-2011, 21:24   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

It may be a pressure switch. When it quits, check to see if the compressor is still running. They cycle off for a short while and back on. It shouldn't stay off very long.
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:28   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

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It may be a pressure switch. When it quits, check to see if the compressor is still running. They cycle off for a short while and back on. It shouldn't stay off very long.
A "pressure switch?" I don't know what it is, nor where it is, nor what it does.

As far as the compressor is concerned, there's no audible/vibrational indication (the only way I know how to tell) that it cycles off and on.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:39   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

Does it still cycle when it's not running cold? The pressure switches tell the compressor to shut down and restart. They're in the low and high side lines.
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Old 06-12-2011, 11:56   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

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Does it still cycle when it's not running cold? The pressure switches tell the compressor to shut down and restart. They're in the low and high side lines.
Not sure I understand: When the A/C is turned on (when she starts the car), it blows cold air. After some period of time, it blows outside air (no cooling). The amount of time that elapses is perhaps 15 minutes—certainly, not enough time to attribute it to any temperature drop due to cooling. As far as "cycling" is concerned, I don't know how to answer that. All I do know is that it doesn't sound or feel like the compressor has kicked out/in.

I did notice, however, that if, while the system was blowing cold air, I were to move the switch on the dashboard from A/C to non-A/C (you can set the switch to simply run the fan or use the A/C, which engages the compressor and the fan), and then back to A/C again, it no longer would blow cold air. In other words, while it's working, and before the usual "15 minute" cycle has run its course, if I move the switch from A/C to fan, and immediately back to A/C again, it ceases to blow cold air. And, if I were then to shut off the engine and restart the car, the A/C would begin to blow cold air again. At no point did I have any obvious indication that the compressor was kicking out/in.
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Old 06-12-2011, 13:27   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

You'd have to look under the hood when it's not working to see if the compressor is running. It could be freezing up too.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:38   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

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You'd have to look under the hood when it's not working to see if the compressor is running.
Dumb question: (a) Where, under the hood, is the compressor located, and (b) how can I tell by looking at it if it's running?

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It could be freezing up too.
What do you mean by "too?"
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Old 06-12-2011, 16:49   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 Escort Air Conditioner

What engine does it have? I'd suggest driving it until it quits and stop at your shop that you trust and have them take a look when it's not cooling.
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