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Old 01-20-2012, 08:02 PM   #1
Flyingjibus
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Member#: 133943
Join Date: Dec 2006
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Portland, Oregon
Vehicle:
2003 WRX Wagon
Sonic Yellow

Default A/C compressor issue

Background:
118,000 miles on the wagon.
No A/C system mods or maintenance so far.

Symptoms:
In the last few months I have noticed that when the AC Comp kicks on there is a noise that sometimes occurs that doesn't so much sound like a belt squeal, but more like a plastic hinge squeak combined with a bottle of soda being opened "Pssht" noise.

Last night on the first leg of a 3 part trip (after sitting in the garage for 7 days) I noticed that whenever the AC Comp kicked on the instrument panel and head lights did a two beat dimming thing,(as in Dim pause Dim).

Every timeit did this, it was two dims, sometimes stronger than others. One time it may have affected engine power, but it was hard to tell with the normal engine lug that accompanies it kicking on.

I attempted to verify that it was working correctly after starting up, and I believe it was, but I was on the highway in the rain. The car did defrost as it always has.

After confirming all of the above, I turned it off for the rest of that trip. On the second leg of the trip, after sitting for about an hour, the dimming thing was gone. I used the defrost for the rest of the night with no dimming, but always the sound when engaging.

Any ideas? My Guess is that the A/C comp is having issues and overloading the electrics when it is starting up?
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:15 PM   #2
Elbert Bass
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Join Date: May 2011
Chapter/Region: South East
Location: South East TN
Vehicle:
1995 Chevy S-10
White

Default

Three things to check first given your inconsistent symptoms.

First check that you have enough tension on the A/C belt and the Alternator belt. Also check that your battery terminals are clean AND tight.

Since the dimming went away after driving it could indicate a weak charge on battery and/or alternator unable to charge fully. Loose/dirty connections and loose belts can contribute to that and a loose belt can cause a "chirp" on clutch engagement.

If the above items are OK then you need to look at testing the charging system, battery condition, and if you have any voltage drops in the battery/chassis/engine ground system. It's possible the clutch could be drawing too much current, but the fact that the problem is not as bad after a lengthy drive points to one of the first things I mentioned as a likely cause.

Oh, the Psssht sound is probably just refrigerant moving in the system, maybe with a little air contamination. Have you had a shade-tree recharge or body work done that required the A/C system to be recharge? That's usually why you see/get air in the system.
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
Flyingjibus
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Member#: 133943
Join Date: Dec 2006
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Portland, Oregon
Vehicle:
2003 WRX Wagon
Sonic Yellow

Default

I ran it today and the problem was present again.


No maintenance has been performed on the A/C system. No body work has been done
I changed the timing belt and all other belts six months ago, I will check tension again
I did just replace the battery and positive terminal. I will check those connections.



Other things I should have mentioned:
This is not a daily driver and sometimes goes two weeks without starting up.
I rarely used the A/C in the summer when this car was my daily driver.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:36 PM   #4
Elbert Bass
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White

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Given the additional info here is what may be happening:
Your battery may not be in top charge because of sitting that long. That will make the electrical system more sensitive to loads during the first 15 to 30 minutes of driving.

When the A/C system is unused like that the refrigerant oil tends to settle in the system. When started sometimes the oil can cause "slugging" of the compressor as oil is not compressible. That can slow the engine and affect idle speed and alternator charging (as well as a chirp in the clutch).

What you might want to do is get one of the maintenance trickle chargers. They are relatively inexpensive and most automatically monitor and maintain the charge in the battery. The slugging of the compressor is something you have to live with until the oil circulates and gets distributed through the system again. Just run the compressor for a while every time you drive it to help avoid severe slugging that can damage the compressor. One way to confirm it is slugging is run the A/C for 5 minutes once a week - if the issue with the chirp and dimming lights goes away then that was the issue.

Still make sure your belts and connections are tight. Keep in mind the things I have mentioned are "best case" diagnoses.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:54 PM   #5
Flyingjibus
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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2003 WRX Wagon
Sonic Yellow

Default

New Symptoms.

Last night we got some snow and I happened to be driving the WRX. Anytime the ABS tried to kick in (basically everytime I touched the brakes) same serious voltage hit would occur. This time causing all gauges to turn on and off and car almost stalling out.


What is happening here????
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:59 PM   #6
Mulder
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15 WRX/05 GTO

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Check your battery, alternator, and all main power and ground connections including the battery post terminals. It sounds like you have either a bad battery, bad alternator, or bad connection causing a severe voltage drop during high current demand.
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Old 03-22-2012, 03:23 PM   #7
Flyingjibus
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Location: Portland, Oregon
Vehicle:
2003 WRX Wagon
Sonic Yellow

Default

Would something like a bad connection where I tapped into clock wires for the hardwiring of radar detector and boost gauge cause this?

I did recently change the battery and the connecter on the positive lead, but I checked those out recently and they seemed fine.
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Old 03-22-2012, 03:42 PM   #8
Mulder
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15 WRX/05 GTO

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyingjibus View Post
Would something like a bad connection where I tapped into clock wires for the hardwiring of radar detector and boost gauge cause this?

I did recently change the battery and the connecter on the positive lead, but I checked those out recently and they seemed fine.
Nah, that would only make your detector and gauges flaky unless you tapped the wrong wires. What you're describing would be a problem with a main connection that feeds the entire electrical system. And, just because the battery is new doesn't mean it can't be bad.
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:36 AM   #9
Flyingjibus
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Portland, Oregon
Vehicle:
2003 WRX Wagon
Sonic Yellow

Default

The butterfly nut that holds the two postive wires on the terminal was a little loose. I tightend it down real well. unable to test for issue again as there is no snow to get the ABS to kick in. Still getting the slight dimming when the AC compressor kicks on. I think I need to go and have them hook one of those diagnostic things up and test the system....
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Old 03-23-2012, 01:46 PM   #10
Mulder
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15 WRX/05 GTO

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It's normal to see some dimming at idle when the AC turns on. It dims twice because the fans turn on one at a time, they do draw a lot of current.
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