Honda CR-V Owners Club Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi All
new member, first post. I did a search on this topic and learned a bit about "The Black Death". My question now is what to do.

Situation: A/C not blowing cold.

Background: I just bought a 158K mileage 2003 CRV EX from the second owner; he'd bought it three years ago at 120K, but had little to no service history. Overall, the car is in very good condition. The Carfax report was clean for accidents/salvage and had pretty regular service entries, including service at the local Honda dealer, but no mention of any A/C repair.

Assessment: The system itself seems to be complete. The serpentine belt is routed around the A/C pulley, and the clutch engages/pulley rotates when an A/C function is called for at the controls. I haven't actually measured the vent temperature, but there's just no noticeable difference with the system on. I did notice that there was a tubing clamp bolt missing, and some of the tubing wasn't securely pressed into the nylon clamps. Also, there is a sticker on the condenser that reads "American Condenser" in red, white and blue. This doesn't strike me as factory original. I have not yet measured the refrigerant pressure at the low side port.

Recommendation: Boy, this is tough! I live in San Francisco, so functioning A/C is not the life or death situation as in, say, Phoenix. So:

1. I could just let sleeping dogs lie.

2. I could buy a recharge can of R134a with a pressure gauge and see what the refrigerant level is, and top it up to see if that fixes everything. Extremely tempting, but this may lead to an episode of "The Black Death", with contamination of the entire system and a locked up compressor. I understand that if the pulley should lock up as well, a shorter drive belt can be fitted to bypass the whole wretched mess.

3. I know, Dad, I should take it to the dealer or the local neighborhood A/C shop and have it professionally diagnosed and repaired. This is a second car in the family, and a $1500 repair bill is not what I'd like to do.

My fantasy is that the "American Condenser" sticker is a tipoff that the system has been previously repaired, including the weak Honda compressor, and plan #2 will work out just fine. If it doesn't, I just go to a modified plan #1 and live without A/C.

Comments?

Thank you all for a nicely laid out and comprehensive forum: I've owned many Honda products in the past (cars, motorcycles, lawnmower/snowblower) and it's nice to be back in the family!

Stay safe,
Marc in SF
 

·
Super Moderator - How may I help?
Joined
·
2,850 Posts
Welcome to the forum MarcD! Do you ever drive to SJ? or Sacramento? If so, you will want the A/C working.
Lots of members here with A/C knowledge to help. Stand by... :)
 

·
Registered
2004 standard Honda CR-V (Red) EX
Joined
·
16 Posts
How much would a diagnostic of the system be?
If your willing to put some $ down on that (diag) I'm sure you'd get the information you desire.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Hi Marc

Two things I personally feel Honda should never have got involved with, 1) clutch master cylinders (they all need red rubber within about 40k) & air-conditioning condensers.

Do the bypass with a good belt (i always use gates myself, but that's my OCD ;)) & save your time, money & blood pressure. (y)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the quick response and creative variety.

JB, Good point about Bagtown and SJ....I'd probably borrow my wife's Camry and that has....costs. That said, in recent years, its gotten darned hot in September through early November, even in SF proper. Even the fog's failing!

Unfitproduct, The shop I've brought hopeless A/C cases to in the past (Toyota Previa, 1984 El Camino, 1966 Avanti II) charges $20 to look and laugh, and it goes up from there. Not to second guess the diagnostic process, I'm thinking they'd have to charge the system to see what happens (around $100), then get into the parts and labor schedule if more surgery is indicated.

Eurostuff, I agree. Interesting that a company that can engineer a six-cylinder 250cc motorcycle engine that can rev to 18,000 can't figure out A/C. As it stands, the non-performing compressor is acting as an idler wheel, but I guess that can change in a heartbeat, especially if I start screwing around with it. Given the absence of service records, I should assume the serpentine belt needs replacing anyway....and Gates always works for me, too!


Ok, I should kick the sleeping dog. Good sense says let the shop shake me down first, then an absence of caution/abundance of impulsivity says charge that sucker up and see where the belt flies.

I'll sleep on it. Fitfully.
 

·
Registered
2004 standard Honda CR-V (Red) EX
Joined
·
16 Posts
Keep us updated please.
Best of luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
When the compressor in my 03 self destructed there was no noise & it didnt seize. Just no cold air...Just depends how it fails as to if it does lock up or not. However if it has blown then your entire system will need to be replaced anyway due to contamination. Suggest top up with refrigerant (as could just be low) and see if that fixes it. If that doesnt do it then have system drained and inspect condensor for signs of 'black death'. You'll soon know if thats whats happened.....
 

·
Registered
2007 CRV
Joined
·
273 Posts
I would go with the check the pressure of the refrigerant.
Are there leaks? Or did the whole thing break down?
Refrigerant is expensive around $20 to $30 for a can in auto parts stores
Then check to see if the clutch is engaging when turned on
That should give you a better idea of the state of ac unit??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
FYI I initally took off compressor & installed a shorter serpentine belt. Its been like that for 4 years now (I'm in UK so AC only necessary 1 week per year).. However I have all bits to rebuild system so will be embarking on that later this year...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
As noted in my original post, the compressor clutch IS engaging when A/C called for at the controls (no snark intended, folks); I removed the inner fender shield to visually verify that satisfying “click” was the compressor hub beginning its rotation.

No details on the onset of malfunction; I just bought the car and noticed no cold air. I was able to negotiate a price reduction, but probably not enough to cover a full system replacement. As far as leaks, there’s nothing visible, and I haven’t yet tried UV dye/black light to assess.

I DID, however, notice an article pop-up that suggests long-term use under hot conditions as a contributing factor to Black Death, and suspected faulty compressors failing early in service life.

Ever the optimist, I’m thinking that since the car has lived its life in San Francisco and has 158K and 17 years behind it, if in fact it hasn’t failed yet, I may be in luck.

I have acquired cars in the past with similar symptoms that were just fine after a FLAPS recharge...not enough tech knowledge to support this, but sometimes the system just “gets low” and needs a little top up.

Going for it today....will report back.

And thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Compressor failure leading to the black death is generally attributed to overheating over time as ventilation not good where located. However it seems to wait about 15 years before doing so. I took my compressor apart out of curiosity. The scroll component had completely disintegrated to a handfull of aluminium chunks. I expect it just weakens over time and then just flies apart one day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Success, so far! I hooked up the Oreilley's recharge can with a gauge and initially got zero pressure, so went ahead and infused some refrigerant. In fairly short order, the compressor started cycling and the gauge moved into the "green zone". Cold air began emanating from the ducts and all seems good. No funky noises, no screeching belts, no obvious leaking.

I don't think it took very much juice at all; the can got cold but still feels fairly full. The system must have been just under the threshold for the compressor to kick in.

I think I'll weigh the can on a postal scale and compare it to a new one at the store to see how much charge it took. California has a $10 refundable deposit for the container, but I'd hate to give up that much R134a!

I plan to drive around for a few days, use the A/C a lot then see what the pressure reads.

Thanks for the advice and counsel, gentlepeople! Will provide updates as they happen.

Stay safe, y'all.

Marc
 

·
Registered
2007 CRV
Joined
·
273 Posts
Thanks for the update.
Guess in a few days or weeks, you will know whether it has a severe leak or not??
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top