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Old 06-03-2010, 03:42 PM   #1
TSReynolds
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Default AC is shooting mist and frost out vents

2002 WRX sedan with 67,000 miles. Single owner, always used dealer maintenance.

The car received a full 60,000 mile tune up at the dealer in December so it should be running fine. They said everything looked good, replaced the fuel lines per the recall, changed steering fluid, flushed the system, etc... I hardly drive the car because I live in the city and keep the car at my office in Westchester in a garage. It gets around 3000-5000 miles a year...hence the low mileage.

Was running the AC for the first time this season today while driving on the highway around 60mph. AC was running fine on the way to Court (30 miles) but on the way back it began to blow much softer to barely at all and I noticed the two center vents (but not the right and left door vents) were blowing out something that looked like smoke. At first I thought the engine was overheating/smoking but I checked the temp gauge and under the hood and it was fine. I then smelled the alleged smoke and it didn't smell like anything. The windows were shut and there was no odor of smoke. So I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what's going on. I turn the AC on full blast and the smoke (now I've realized it's mist/steam) comes out harder along with little white flecks, which I am assuming was frost or ice.

Anyone know what's going on with my AC? Never experienced this before. Thought it was pretty weird.
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Old 06-03-2010, 03:53 PM   #2
TSReynolds
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Default Oh, a few more details

There was no CEL and the car is stock and has never been modified.
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Old 06-03-2010, 03:55 PM   #3
AlboWRX
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Might be low on refrigerant. I know that when this happens in a house ac evaporator, you're building ice due to the lack of freon.
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:00 PM   #4
NitroTrike
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Let me guess, it does it as soon as you slow down, or when you open a window right?

Might want to check the ol' pollen filter...

Mine has been doing it for 8+ years... gets progressively worse as the filter gets clogged, and as the humidity goes up.
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:08 PM   #5
TSReynolds
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Hmmm...I'll have to check out both. Pardon my ignorance, but where is the filter located?
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSReynolds View Post
Hmmm...I'll have to check out both. Pardon my ignorance, but where is the filter located?
Behind the glove box under the white cover.

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...ghlight=pollen
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:26 PM   #7
TSReynolds
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Gracias.
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:25 AM   #8
Chi_San
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I'd guess it's the thermal expansion valve is frozen open. You're basically freezing your evaporator solid. The valve is supposed to regulate the amount of refrigerant that goes into the evaporator, to prevent it from icing over, and also to keep the compressor from having to cycle on and off.

Is the AC compressor kicking on and off? If it isn't, then you might have a bad temperature sensor, or it fell off the evaporator core.

It's easy to tell if this is the problem by simply turning the AC off when this happens, leave it off for a few minutes, and see if the AC works okay when you turn it back on, then starts blowing vapor again as it runs. You can also turn the AC on when it's cold, and the compressor should cycle on and off, with longer periods of 'off' time. If it just comes on constantly, then the thermal probe needs to be serviced.

Edit: A low charge typically results in warm air coming out the vents, and would not effect the volume of air coming out the vents. The Evaporator core icing over would. A clogged pollen air filter could do this too, though I don't know if they are standard or optional equipment. Mine doesn't even have a filter.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:16 AM   #9
Mulder
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Should have posted this in the Service and Maintenance section (where it should be moved shortly), but anyway it sounds like you have the known freezup issue-
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...postid=4179167
I had this problem several years ago, did the fix and my AC has been perfect since then.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:58 AM   #10
rkramer
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Unless I'm mistaken, there was no filter option on the '02's. Yep, the spot is there, you just couldn't get it installed out the door.
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:10 AM   #11
NitroTrike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkramer View Post
Unless I'm mistaken, there was no filter option on the '02's. Yep, the spot is there, you just couldn't get it installed out the door.
My 02 had it right off of the truck. The only way I knew it even had one was the sticker that was on my door jamb.


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Old 06-07-2010, 03:33 PM   #12
TSReynolds
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Default Thank you

Thanks all for the response. Sorry, Mulder, for the incorrect forum. I couldn't figure out where it should be posted. As you can tell, I have not posted in a while so I get lost among all the different categories.

I do have an air filter, which was an option on the '02 WRX. If that's not the problem, I'll check into the thermal expansion valve fix as my symptoms are exactly as explained by Chi_San.

Thanks all.
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:38 PM   #13
Mulder
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Did you look at the link I posted for you (it's in the stickies in this section)? Your symptoms are exactly what happens with the old-style thermoswitch unit, and will most likely be fixed by doing the TSB fix with the new updated one.
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:55 PM   #14
TSReynolds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulder View Post
Did you look at the link I posted for you (it's in the stickies in this section)? Your symptoms are exactly what happens with the old-style thermoswitch unit, and will most likely be fixed by doing the TSB fix with the new updated one.
I did. I'm going to contact the dealer when I get a chance to have it checked out. Thanks!
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:06 PM   #15
Mulder
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Ok, just bear in mind that they will charge you for any diagnosis and repair. As a TSB it was only done for free during the original 3/36 warranty period. Unfortunately it is a fairly labor-intensive fix although there is an alternate procedure described in the linked thread for R&R'ing the evaporator core that requires less disassembly than what's in the service manual. The actual part that gets replaced is not that expensive, about $60 when I bought it a few years ago so probably a bit more now.
I'd suggest printing out the info from that thread and taking it with you to show them, in case they aren't aware of it.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:15 PM   #16
TSReynolds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulder View Post
Ok, just bear in mind that they will charge you for any diagnosis and repair. As a TSB it was only done for free during the original 3/36 warranty period. Unfortunately it is a fairly labor-intensive fix although there is an alternate procedure described in the linked thread for R&R'ing the evaporator core that requires less disassembly than what's in the service manual. The actual part that gets replaced is not that expensive, about $60 when I bought it a few years ago so probably a bit more now.
I'd suggest printing out the info from that thread and taking it with you to show them, in case they aren't aware of it.
Just called the dealer and made an appointment. Mentioned the TSB and they didn't even question me. This dealer has been pretty good about service bulletins. They did the fuel line fix for me without me even asking and at no charge. Then again, all the other work they did at the 60K tune up ran me over $1,000...which was insane. So maybe they just felt bad.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:12 PM   #17
TSReynolds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSReynolds View Post
Just called the dealer and made an appointment. Mentioned the TSB and they didn't even question me. This dealer has been pretty good about service bulletins. They did the fuel line fix for me without me even asking and at no charge. Then again, all the other work they did at the 60K tune up ran me over $1,000...which was insane. So maybe they just felt bad.
So I just got the car back from the dealer. The problem wound up being a leak in a thermo tube? He said air and moisture were getting into the lines which was causing the fog and decrease in pressure. The new tube was $127. They also had to discharge the system and then refill it. All together, with labor and tax, it came out to $452. Definitely not a cheap fix. Hopefully this is the last bit of maintenance I'll have on the car for a while.

Thanks to everyone for the help/suggestions. It didn't wind up being the air filter or the temp gauge.
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