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Old 06-30-2002, 09:17 AM   #1
Schleppy
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Default Why does my WRX drive like CRAP with the AC on?

I have an 02 WRX with 8k miles on. As the temperatures here got warmer, the windows came down, and on those days when it is just way too hot, the AC came on. However, when I click the AC on while driving the car noticeably hesitates. I hear the AC click on the car studders. That's my first issue.

Second, while the AC is on, the car require a lot more gas to be used to get going. I was in traffic with the AC on and I needed to give the car a lot more gas to even get it rolling. Problem two.

The third problem is that the AC literally just feels like it is robbing the car of it's potential...

And lastly, on some days, when the radiator fans kick on the car seems to hesitate also. I read in another thread that a guy was having similar issues and it had to do with the fact that he had a bum battery from Day 1....

Has anyone else experienced this? I am bringing the car in Tuesday hopefully to have em look at it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-30-2002, 09:36 AM   #2
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I don't get any of the hesitation problems but yes the AC saps power. That's happened on every car I've owned. If you think about it, without boost pressure you are driving around a low compression 2 liter four cylinder. AC increases my turbo lag, but once on boost it seems about normal.
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:34 AM   #3
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Yeah, I know AC saps power, but it seems like a lot more power than any other car I have driven... The car literally sucks to drive with AC on, it makes shifting more difficult, and the car just sucks in general...

It is very bizzare...
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:41 AM   #4
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I too have the hesitation problem....you almost have to floor it to get it to start moving....also I think the steering feels weird too..maybe because of the A/C being on it changes the power steering somewhat but I hate the A/C. And yes, I also agree that this car loses more power then any other car I have drivin with the A/C.
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:43 AM   #5
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Well, I only use AC when it is raining out in the summer... If it isn't raining, the windows are down...

I am still going to have the stealership check it out...
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:48 AM   #6
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I don't find it to be that bad, the main thing is starting off with the A/C on requires a somewhat more aggressive launch to avoid bogging. Once the car gets going the power loss isn't that severe and if you really have to punch it the compressor will cut out. The compressor will cycle on and off both at idle and while driving, this is normal, but if the car jerks or hesitates significantly when it does it should be checked. If the system is overcharged the high pressure cutout will engage and may cause the system to cycle on and off repeatedly, this will be very noticeable. So definitely have it checked out to see if it is charged properly.
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Old 06-30-2002, 11:13 AM   #7
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I have the same problem. It seems this car takes much more power to run the AC than any car I've driven. Sometimes it jerks hard when I hit the AC switch. I work at the beach and sometimes the salty air causes the belts to screech when I turn the AC own. It's very annoying. And of course I have yet to find a dealer that was knowledgeable about it. They just say it's normal. Whatever.
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Old 06-30-2002, 12:52 PM   #8
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I have all the symptoms allready described...plus a wierd one. When I toggle the ac on or off, either at idle or while moving, the point of contact in the brake pedal (if you don't know what i mean, I can explain better) moves about an inch. Also, If I am braking moderatly hard (approching stop sign) and I turn on the air, the car will pull hard to the right....almost like the drivers side brakes just gave up. It's not all that fun!
Grant
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Old 06-30-2002, 03:48 PM   #9
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All completley normal for Suabru's.
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Old 06-30-2002, 04:04 PM   #10
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I have to agree that this is quite normal. My friends have driven Subies exclusively for the last 10 years and they cite the AC as a major cause of hesitation in the summer time. Get used to it.
Coming from 6 cylinder Jeeps, the loss of power was very alarming to me. But then I remembered that a 2.0L 4cyl engine is going to behave quite differently than a 4.0L 6cyl when the AC is cranked. Some of us tend to forget that despite having 227 hp, the car still has a low displacement, low compression engine. ALL such cars exhibit this kind of behavior with AC on. Note that when you really floor it, your AC shuts off.
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Old 06-30-2002, 04:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
If you think about it, without boost pressure you are driving around a low compression 2 liter four cylinder.

Like FastRedWrx commented, you're driving a 1994cc 4cyl with 8.0:1 compression. Besides the low compression issue, you've also got a restriction in the exhaust (turbo).

I think it's normal for any car (barring those with really small turbos or twin set-ups) to lag at lower rpms if it has low compression and small displacement, especially with the A/C on.
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Old 06-30-2002, 07:05 PM   #12
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Thumbs up

I am very happy that I saw this thread. Thought it was just me. The AC problem was not near as bad in my 2.5 Outback, but now I understand why.
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Old 06-30-2002, 09:43 PM   #13
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Compressors are very high duty (in terms of electricity) devices, they require a lot of juice. So taking the juice to drive it from a 2liter engine with low compression - turns out to be a high percentage of available power...every car has this to one degree or another but it is always worse on low displacement engines.
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Old 06-30-2002, 09:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by scaryfastskier
I have all the symptoms allready described...plus a wierd one. When I toggle the ac on or off, either at idle or while moving, the point of contact in the brake pedal (if you don't know what i mean, I can explain better) moves about an inch. Also, If I am braking moderatly hard (approching stop sign) and I turn on the air, the car will pull hard to the right....almost like the drivers side brakes just gave up. It's not all that fun!
Grant
Yup, I noticed this happens! I can always tell when the A/C cycles when I'm at a stop because the brake pedal sinks a little bit. Kind of disconcerting!
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:07 PM   #15
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also remember that the brake booster works off of the vaccum
so when at idle or a traffic light there is a load
once the engine is going like driving around, there is plenty
for the brakes, most cars do this, its just more noticable at
idle in the low compression motors with the accessories
going
I forgot to add all 4cyl suck, and why did i buy another
who knows, atleast with the WRX the bolt on stuff actually works
Lol

Last edited by dolbnyc1; 07-01-2002 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:30 PM   #16
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Well well, another great little subaru quirk

Oh well, now to just figure out why my clutch always feel so weak.....
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:47 PM   #17
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If you think driving with the AC on in the WRX sucks, try it in a Neon or a stock Civic, or any other small 4 cyl engine car. It isn't just Subarus. Yes, the brake pedal did the same thing on my Neon.

My Neon used to have to downshift (auto) when going up some hills whenever the AC kicked on. 3-2-3-2-3-2-3rd gear. Really disconcerting.

BTW, modern AC duty cycles seem to be timed at about 8-12 seconds off, then they kick on again. You can feel it in ANY car, including 454 trucks. It just doesn't rob as large a percentage of the torque.
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Old 07-01-2002, 09:34 AM   #18
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Intresting take on all this. My car did not, seem to do this for say the first 1000-1200 miles but somtime after. I live in California and it was already hot when I bought the car in the beginning of May. Now it's sounds as if it's as bad if not worse than the rest. I have noticed the only way to really take off in a normal non-bogged manner is to do about a 2000 rpm launch and that seems like a normal low rev launch with the A/C off. I have had many 4 cyl cars over the years and this is by far the worst I have ever encountered. I had a 80 somthing bhp CRX brand new in 1985 that had no such problem. I think some of us must have gotten bad compressors or low on oil compressors or somthing? I'm going to have the dealer take a look! I really can't belive the engineers at Subaru would accept such a shortcomming.

B.
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Old 07-01-2002, 10:29 AM   #19
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what everyone else have said so far, nothing new to add....i just wanna see what it's like to be a post whore, kinda boring, so i'll quit now

back to the topic, yup, tiny 4 bangers'll do that everytime. driving w/the ac on is like removing your turbo.....member, we have no low end in this car, but once the rpm is over 3, you're humming along
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Old 07-01-2002, 10:58 AM   #20
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this isnt a 'problem', its completely normal. Im amazed to see a thread like this
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Old 07-01-2002, 03:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by mlambert
this isnt a 'problem', its completely normal. Im amazed to see a thread like this
I agree that power loss would be considered normal, but when it makes your brakes pull hard to one side, then it becomes of note imo. I almost hit a median the first time it happened.
Grant
ps stuff like this is good for making us not n00bs, haha
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Old 07-01-2002, 06:13 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sordid Philosopher
Compressors are very high duty (in terms of electricity) devices, they require a lot of juice. So taking the juice to drive it from a 2liter engine with low compression - turns out to be a high percentage of available power...every car has this to one degree or another but it is always worse on low displacement engines.
If it helps you guys any, I dynoed my old 98 VW VR6 a few years ago both with and without the AC on. (At full throttle, the compressor didnt cut out on that car....many other cars do, even my 2000 Maxima.) The car lost 10 whp with the AC on. The dyno plot was the exact same as the AC off plot, it was just moved down 10 whp for the entire curve. I suspect the WRX AC compressor requires similar power to drive it.

At low rpm where you might only have 100 whp in your WRX, a 10 whp loss will be quite noticable.

As an aside, I did test drive a stock WRX in 95F heat a while back. With the AC blasting, and a couple of passengers, the car felt terribly sluggish.
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Old 07-01-2002, 09:28 PM   #23
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With an underdrive crank pulley, the AC power loss isn't as noticeable. Of course, the AC doesn't blow quite as cold.

Rich
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