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Old 08-22-2007, 11:28 PM   #1
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Default My car is on the side of the road!

I'd like to thank anyone in advance for advice/help that could be provided. Over the last week or so my car has been making a strange whiring noise and idling roughly. I tried turning off the A/C and it went away. Then I turned it on and it was still gone. It happened again, turned it off, noise was still there. However, over the last couple of days I have had it off because I have become more convinced that it ran better with it off.

Well, tonight I drove out to get dinner with my g/f and had the A/C off. The entire way, it was making the noise. I turned the A/C on and away went the noise. I started to drive home, and noticed a strange smell so I pulled into a parking lot to have a look. Opened the hood and there was a TON of smoke. It seemed to be originating near or at a pulley that the accessory belt went around at the front of the engine down low. I let it cool down and called a friend. He said I probably blew the A/C clutch bearings. I figured it would be OK to drive home as long as I didn't start a fire and starter her up (dumb move) and went to pull out of my parking space. No power steering. Stopped, opened the hood, broken accessory belt. I thanked god it was not the drive belt. Stupid me forgot the alt, water pump, etc. was also on that belt and went to go home AGAIN. My car got very hot (about 270!!) and my lights started to dim. I pulled it into a parking lot and admitted defeat.

My question is, does this sound like the A/C compressor bearings for sure? How can I tell? The noise would be what I had imagined blown bearings to sound like and the smell was burnt metal- similar to cutting something with a sawzall and having the blade get too hot. If it is a blown A/C Clutch Bearing, is it hard to change? How do I go about doing it? Would it be better to bite the bullet and just do the entire compressor- especially since I may wind up doing it in a parking lot?

I don't even know where to begin, but if any of you have any links to a good how-to on changing this thing out, I would greatly appreciate it. I just had the tranny rebuilt (150,000 miles) and I was not expecting to spend another $300 or more on the car for something like this any time soon.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:03 AM   #2
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it could be the AC compressor clutch.....i would have to consider one of the idler or Tensioner pullies as a culprit over the AC compressor. These plastic pullies like to freeze up and then they shred the belt, very common thing that we have seen happen

if you didnt have power steering, then that means that its on the same belt drive as all the other accessories on the engine....
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:21 AM   #3
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I agree with Pat that one of the pulleys are more likely that the A/C clutch. In the picture below, check the pulleys numbered as #3, (the one between 5 & 8 is more likely) and pulley #9. See if any of them are melted or bound up. While you're at it, make sure that the water pump #5, power steering pump #4, and the alternator #2 also spin freely.
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:02 AM   #4
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At this point the belt is not on any of the accessories and probably wrapped about a bunch of things that will keep you busy pulling out belt remnants for a couple hours. It'* a lesson about belts that you only allow yourself to learn once. Trust me. Using your hand..try to turn each pulley. Each and every pulley should turn except the crank. #6 in the picture. Don't try and drive until you have a belt on the accessory path and they all turn freely.

No matter which pulley it is..you drove through the warning period. The car was asking for help when it was making noises. Please keep in mind to change your belt, you will need to jack up the car and remove the passenger side wheel.

At 270F.. with the engine starting to dim lights etc.. that'* bad. Hopefully you didn't damage the engine by overheating it for too long.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:15 AM   #5
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Bill, Archon and 1993 SLE- Thank you very much for the replies.

Pat- I will check the pulleys thoroughly. When I stopped the first time, it was still on tight and solid. It also didn't shred- just snapped. I think that while I was inspecting everything seemed OK, but the heat was building up on one section of the belt- the section against the pulley causing the smoke- and when I started it, it just snapped because it was so hot.

Archon- the picture you put up is definately worth a thousand words. When the smoke cleared, I could still see that smoke was coming from #7 in that diagram. I did not know it was my A/C compressor- your diagram shows that it was. I was just guessing based on what others had suggested. I will also pay attention to #3 as you suggest- if I'm going to be replacing the belt, may as well replace any pulleys, tensioners, etc that may need it before they break another belt. I figure I may want to get a water pump too and do that, since the car has 150K on it.

Bill- LUCKILY for me, the belt just snapped. It was sitting on top of the pulleys, loose, and I just pulled it right out. I guess you could consider it luck. The engine was running at around 200 when I stopped the first time- it usually runs around 195 or so for me. I basically pulled it out of the parking lot, went a 1/4 mile or less and noticed it overheating, pulled into the next parking lot immediately and shut off the car. Hopefully I didn't damage anything....we'll see I guess.

I also appreciate your point about driving through the noise. Until last night there were no real signs other than the noise, and I was just to optimistic that I could wait until this weekend to look at it..
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:22 AM   #6
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Bill, Archon and Pat:

I also meant to ask- do you think I need to buy a new compressor? Or just a new pulley and bearing kit? What is your recommendation?

Thanks again!
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:02 PM   #7
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If it is the compressor clutch bearing, you could try replacing it. I don't know if anyone has tried it on the car. Procedure at AllData Compressor Clutch Bearing shows it off the car. You'd have to the system evacuated and recharged either way, if so. It appears as if you'll need some specialized tools for bearing replacement.
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:32 PM   #8
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Don't forget that several of the pulleys are left hand thread. I'm 1000 miles from my car so I don't remember which was which but just be warned.
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:45 PM   #9
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Thanks again for all the replies. Here'* where things stand as of now. I have pulled the old compressor, accumulator, and orifice out of the car. While I had everything unbuttoned, I also pulled and replaced the water pump. At 150,000 miles I figured it was good insurance.

The new compressor is in place, but the lines are disconnected still. One bolt to connect them. I also have the new accumulator in place and the lines disconnected. Two bolts to connect those. I have everything disconnected because I am waiting on a vacuum pump and air compressor to flush the system, create vacuum, and refill. I figure I just need to flush it, put in the new orifice, put on the three bolts to connect the lines, vacuum, refill.

I have also replaced both belts and the anti-freeze (Prestone Extended Life- yellow but will replace ANY fluid as it says on the lable. I figure it'* not dex, so it'* gotta be good, haha).

I called the dealership and asked them if it was OK to drive the car with the A/C Compressor disconnected and the belt spinning it. I made it very clear that I was afraid it would pump out the oil and burn it up. They said it would be fine. I did not plug in the two electrical connectors that go to the A/C Compressor and the tubes that connect to the compressor.

Now, I started my car figuring I could drive around for a couple days without A/C while I waited for the proper tools- but at least I'd have wheels again. My first thing I wanted to check was whether any oil came out of the compressor- and it did NOT so I am OK there.

My problem is this- My car normally runs around 195 degrees- just shy of the 200 mark on the guage. I let it idle for a bit to make sure it did not overheat. The car actually ran much quieter than it has been, seemed pretty smooth, etc. It was probably thanking me for the new belts. After about 5 minutes or so the car got up to temp. I noticed the fans did not turn on. The new anti-freeze appeared to boil a little, and then I heard a thumping noise- so I'm guessing my anti-freeze is boiling in the radiator? I checked the guage again at this point and it was at about 210, so I shut the car down and came straight here.....

What could the problem be? My guesses are that one of the electrical connectors that I had detached controls the fans? Why would it go to the A/C compressor though? My other thought is that the engine cooling system has air in it (since I changed the pump and never have done one before I may have f'd something up?) and is causing the AF to boil? But then why do the fans not come on? Do I need to flush my radiator?

Is it not a good idea to run the car without the A/C compressor, accumulator, and electrical connectors connected?

Again, thanks for the help, I need to get this fixed ASAP and you guys have been an amazing help. I'd be way over my head without you. WIth you, I'm just about up to the bottom of my nose!
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:54 PM   #10
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My guess is that you have an air pocket in the cooling system. Bill Buttermore wrote a great tech info article on how to refill after work is done to the system.
http://www.bonnevilleclub.com/forum/...=article&k=100
The most likely reason for the fans not coming on is that it didn't quite reach the temperature for that. I believe they come on at 215. If air has surrounded the coolant sensor, it is quite possible the engine would actually be hotter than that, but the sensor would not be able to sense the proper temperature.
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