AC Problems. Need a new compressor


Original poster
Apr 23, 2012
A few days ago, my Envoy started making a strange whirring engine noise. I thought the noise was coming from the idler pulley. On the way to buy a new pulley, my AC stopped blowing cold. Replacing the pulley confirmed that the noise was coming from the compressor. Figures that it was over 100 degrees outside when it stopped working.

I went to a local shop to get a quote to replace the compressor. Labor and supplies should be around $300, but I would be providing my own compressor instead of buying one from them for $600.

I need help from you guys on a few things.

-130k miles
-Auto AC
-AC system is all original (as far as I know)
-AC system has always performed well, there hasn't been any gradual deterioration of cooling over the years or even since I first noticed the noise. It went from working to blowing hot air

1. The noise is made at all times and is definitely only coming from the compressor
2. The clutch won't engage. Looking at the front of the engine, the clutch will always remain stationary while the pulley spins the compressor
3. The clutch spins by hand. The compressor doesn't spin by hand (probably normal?)
4. When I turn the AC on, air blows through the vents normally (albeit really f'ing hot in this weather)

What I've inferred from this is that the clutch has failed. I hope this means that my compressor itself didn't explode and send little bits of metal death into the rest of my AC system.

Everywhere I've looked for compressors all say that they require the replacement of the accumulator, condenser, and orifice tube because of debris a failed compressor will introduce to the system. That leaves me with just a few questions

Based on what I'm describing, does it sound like I can get away with just a compressor replacement? Or would I be better off just replacing the rest of those parts at the same time? It looks like I'd be in for about another $100 in parts and judging by the location of them, the labor shouldn't be out of line. Upside is I'll have a warranty on my compressor, downside is I may be replacing a bunch of parts unnecessarily. I've never done or had done any sort of AC repairs before, so please share your experiences and expertise with me on this. Getting it done as inexpensively as possible is important, but getting it done right and not wasting my money to do it right later is more important.

Also, I've never seen recommendations or warnings about any brand of compressor. Driving a truck that'll choke because of the wrong brand of spark plugs, I figure it's much better to see what you guys have the say.

The shop wanted $600 for a compressor, I think the only benefit of this route is more recourse should something go wrong. It's a lot easier for a shop to deny liability if I supply my own parts.

RockAuto has a $210 Four Seasons Reman up to a $400 ACDelco. I'll probably go with one of the compressors from here unless you guys give me some better advice.

Ebay has them ranging from $75 to $200. Online salvage searches have them for $65-75. Is a used compressor even something to consider?

Thanks in advance for all of the advice you guys have to offer.


Dec 4, 2011
Ottawa, ON
If the compressor grenaded itself and sent shrapnel through the system, then the parts you listed should be replaced, including the condenser as it is impossible to flush it out. If it has truly failed, you would not be able to turn the compressor at all (not the part that the belt rides on but the the front clutch part with the three fingers). If that won't turn, then assume the worst.

If the compressor is mechanically sound but only the magnetic clutch has failed, the only thing that should be replaced apart from the compressor is the accumulator and orifice tube just because of the fact the system is being opened up and the dessicant bag will absorb moisture from the air. And given the age, it's not a bad idea.

There is always a risk when not buying the shop's overpriced parts if something does happen as you would have to pay the labour to replace it again unless it is a mistake on THEIR part. As long as it is done right and the right amount of oil is added, I have not seen many remans fail. Don't bother with used, not worth it. I can't say anything either way with 4S or ACDelco unless someone has experience with them. Look at their warranties.

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