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2005 Outback AT 252K Miles / 2005 Forester 2.5i Engine 115K Miles
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111 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
RESOLVED(?): AC Compressor Issue - NOT

2005 Outback 2.5i AT with 207K miles

Prior to a cross-country trip still in progress, I had my AC system checked out by a big name tire/repair shop. It operated normally most of the time but after a few hours of driving it would start blowing warm/no air which would be cleared by turning it off and running hot air through it, a classic case of icing of the interior heat exchanger. As suggested by internet wisdom, this could be caused by low refrigerant levels which the shop confirmed to be the case and then they added refrigerant. They stated that there were no leaks in the system and that the compressor was good.

Five days later, the AC system does not work at all. Originally I assumed that the previously untouched system was leaking the new refrigerant and to get home in comfort, I bought a refill bottle which included a pressure gauge. The gauge shows 160 PSI on the low pressure side of the system in the "red" zone and advises to seek professional help.

Upon further inspection, I discovered that only a few fragments of the drive belt for the compressor exist. The belt was replaced 70K miles ago when I installed head gasket replacements. I can turn both the clutch and the compressor pulley easily and independently by hand, suggesting that the compressor is not seized.

Will I do any/more damage if I simply replace the drive belt on the theory that the only thing that failed was the belt?

Thanks for your advice!
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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14,366 Posts
Be careful deciding which side of this chicken-or-egg problem you're on. An overcharged system could have wiped out a good belt very quickly. Changing the belt alone won't help that.

Did this shop really just add some refrigerant, or did they do a proper recovery, evacuation & refill?

Subaru AC systems are very touchy about refrigerant levels. Too little and you get performance problems & icing, too much and the compressor is toast. The sweet spot isn't big.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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^^ yeah, I'd say either find a well-respected a/c shop, or, improve the DIY approach with more study and more equipment.

either way it's gonna cost a little to do it correctly.

I wouldn't rule-out some issue with crank or belt idler pulleys, but that's an outside chance.
 

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2005 Outback AT 252K Miles / 2005 Forester 2.5i Engine 115K Miles
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111 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Because the AC system had just been worked on for the first time in its 12 year life and the low pressure PSI was 160 with dire warnings on the gauge, I simply feared the worse case scenario that a catastrophic failure had occurred as a byproduct of the refrigerant addition. So before taking it back to the original shop, I replaced the belt, which had failed after 30K miles, and the system now appears to be working normally.
 
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