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Old 07-18-2012, 09:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to: Adjust A/C Compressor Clutch

This summer, my A/C had started running intermittently. It would blow cold air for about ten minutes, then stop. After turning it off for a while, I could turn it back on and it would blow cold for about another 10 minutes or so.

I came on here for some research and found these two threads.

A/C compressor clutch

AC Runs Intermittently 04 Forester

First, I would like to give a big thanks to all the contributors in these threads. After reading through these threads I found that it's common for the AC clutch to wear out over time, causing the gap to become too large. This gap can be tightened up by removing a shim between the compressor and clutch.

I then went out to rent the tools mentioned in the threads, but it turns out my local Autozone does not stock them and it would be a two day wait. I then thought of making my own tool as mentioned. But after looking at the AC compressor. I found a way to perform this procedure WITHOUT any special tools.

All the tools needed to perform this:

3 5mx40 bolts (thread pitch .8)

1 6mx40 bolt (thread pitch 1.00)

A bunch of 6mm washers

Needle nose pliers

Screwdriver

10mm Socket with 1/4in ratchet

Ratcheting 8mm and 10mm wrench (doesn't have to be ratcheting, but makes the process much quicker.)

First, I would recommend removing the coolant overflow as it will give you much more room to work. Just remove the two 10mm bolts on the top of it and pull out the line and it comes right out.

Next, thread two of the 5mx40 bolts into the threaded holes in the clutch. Take your 1/4in ratchet with 10mm socket and place it on the bolt head in the center that holds the clutch on. Now, wedge a screwdriver between the 5mx40 bolts and the ratchet. You can now work the screwdriver and ratchet against each other to hold the clutch in place while you crack the clutch bolt loose. See picture below.





There is not much torque on that bolt so the 1/4in ratchet is plenty to take it off. Now, take the center bolt completely out, and work in the third 5mx40 bolt into the last threaded hole on the clutch. This is where the ratcheting wrench comes in handy, as there isn't much room to get a ratchet and socket on these bolts with the radiator fans right there. Take your 8mm wrench and slowly tighten each 5mx40 bolt, you will see how they slowly pull the clutch off.





Do this process slowly as you want the clutch to come off straight. So be sure to alternate from bolt to bolt on a regular basis. Once the clutch is far enough off you will be able to pull it off by hand.





Now that it is off, take your needle nose pliers and remove one of the shims located in the shaft of the clutch that you just removed. It's a very thin washer.





Once this is done, you will want to remove the 3 5mx40 bolts that are threaded into the clutch, and place the clutch back onto the compressor. You will feel it snap into place as it is magnetized, however, it will still be very far away from the compressor. This is when you take the 6mx40 bolt and load it up with some washers to drive the clutch back in, using the center hole where the 10mm bolt holds it in place.





I was able to hold the clutch still with my free hand as I drove the bolt in to suck the clutch back on. Once you get it pretty close, remove this bolt and use the 10mm that was originally there to finish it off. I torqued it back down using the same method to break the bolt loose in the first place. It doesn't need a ton of torque as it is a small bolt, so tightening it by hand with the 1/4in ratchet is plenty.

All in all this process took about 45 minutes, but I am rather experienced with wrenching on cars. Anyone can perform this. It only costs about 4 dollars of bolts and washers. Hope this write-up helps, and will save people a trip to the auto parts store for tool rental.

I should also mention that my ac blows cold nonstop now. Pretty amazing how reducing the gap by that little made such a huge difference.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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thanks for the write-up! i think i understand everything, but will read thru it a few more times before attempting it myself. Thanks!
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Old 07-29-2012, 08:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you. Awesome write up and pics. It really helped me do this DIY project. Here in Canada, we have Parts Source, and their AC clutch removal kit doesn't fit, so I had to use your procedure of using the M5 bolts. But I could not find M5x40, so I went with M5x25 and it was just enough length to pull off the clutch.

the only issue I had was not knowing how much torque to use when reattaching the 10mm bolt back on to the clutch. It really tightened up, but looked too far of a gap still. I put back the M5 bolts and used to hold the clutch still while tightening the 10mm bolt. The gap got closer until I could feel the bolt actually stop moving without putting some significant pressure to turn. That's where I stopped.

So far it looks like it's working well, but a longer drive on hotter days will be the bigger test.

However, now I hear a bit of squealing coming from the compressor, which I believe may be a sign of it really wearing down. This probably will be a temporary fix. I'm not sure how long though. At least I know how to remove the clutch and inspect it.

Can I assume the dimples in the clutch are wear marks. Once those small dimples disappear, the clutch has fully been worn out?
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Old 07-29-2012, 10:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Question Over lap between Forester and Outback

Friendly Forum Folks- I need to replace my ac. compressor clutch. I'm new at these forums but have been a shade tree DIYer for 40 years. This thread was relayed to me by a friend who's much more familiar with them. I couldn't find anything useful on the Out Back forum (probably my fault). This thread has some very thoughtful and helpful info in it. Can anyone tell me if the Forester ac. set up is the same as the Outback. Mine is a 2002 L.L. Bean with the 3.0 liter engine. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks from HOT HUMID Florida. brucem.
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default AC clutch replacement/adjustment

Mark the Shark- Thanks for your post- very insightful, clever and thorough. I've already purchased a new clutch on line from a Subbie dealer in Long Island. So I may as well put it in. I wish I had read your post earlier. Great pics! I may try your method first just to see if it solves my problem. Thanks again for the great post. I'll post my results and maybe help someone else. brucem
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Thank you for the post!

Wow. Thank you so much for posting this. Worked great... just as you described. Saved me sweating it out in LA for the rest of the summer. I signed up just to say thanks!
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm giving you a hug through the internet. My gap wasn't nearly as big as yours but when I took the clutch off one of the shims FELL out by itself. I put it all back together and it works perfectly!
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you for this post, I followed the steps and got the a/c back to life.
Good instruction.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Just tried this last night.. after installing a Reman compressor from AC Compressor, Condenser, Evaporator and More AC Parts at Wholesale Prices - Discount AC Parts (which by the way I would definitely NOT recommend that vendor or especially the 'Reman' - it's just rebuilt with the couple bad parts replaced and cleaned up. When it took the clutch off I could clearly see a lot of wear and rust... clearly used. But I still had the same symptoms immediately after installing, so I wanted to try this before going the warranty route.

The clutch was a beast to get off.. The threads did not match the M5 .8 pitch exactly - another strike against the Reman. I tried to shop for a different bolt, but couldn't get anything that was a better match.

You have to be really careful when screwing in the M5's as they will want to bend- I backed out one bolt after it started to bend and eventually I broke two grade 8 bolts. The clutch wouldn't budge.. I tapped it with a hammer and used a screw driver to help pop it off.. eventually I got it out and was able to take out the broken bolts.. otherwise I would have been screwed and had to replace the compressor again.

After that drama, I looked and did not see ANY shims in the clutch (third and final strike against the Reman). I will put the clutch back on today. There is a possibility I lost the shims when I popped the clutch off, I didn't see any.

I also had the old seized compressor on the bench, so I decided to try taking the clutch off that one and to see if I could compare the clutch/shims.. also broke a bolt there and I couldn't even get that clutch off at all.

Sounds like my situation is a bit unique.. most people get along ok with this, but I definitely got more than I bargained for.

I'm going to have to put it back together and I think I will end up where I started.. only other option I may have is to grind down the clutch as there were no shims in there.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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A magnetic pickup tool is good for getting the shims out. Also, the 40mm bolts are a bit long, I had the bending problem. 25mm worked better for me (the second time lol)...

Here's the pic I took with a 25mm all the way in:

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulle...-ac-clutch.jpg

Last edited by SkipperRipper; 08-23-2012 at 08:31 AM. Reason: add pic and bolt info.
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Old 08-27-2012, 01:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I used the MarkTheShark's instructions to fix my AC. Nice writeup. Total cost of repair $12.



I did bend the 5m screws, but never came close to stripping or breaking them, though shorter bolts might be a good precaution, if they still work.
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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is the system supposed to cycle? mine runs a bit then clicks off...then on then off?
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickg View Post
is the system supposed to cycle? mine runs a bit then clicks off...then on then off?
This is normal.
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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MarkTheShark -- thanks for this write up! I got the bolts and washers tonight and am planning on attempting this tomorrow on my wife's '03 Fozzie. I couldnt find m5x25 bolts (as some suggested) so I went with m5x30 -- a good compromise. Also the bolts are "hardened" and stronger than grade 8 (as I'm told by the hardware store guy). The only thing I was unsure of was the "thread pitch" of the bolts. Does is really matter? I went to two hardware stores just to find the bolts and their was not multiple versions of thread pitch from what I saw. I'm hoping that the ones I got will work...

Also, im not sure what the screwdriver is for. Anyone? Why is it wedged in between the m5's and rachet/socket? Maybe this will make more sense when I'm under the hood tomorrow...
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: A/C clutch adjustment

Thanks for all your work.
I just followed your instructions and about 40 min. later I'm finished. I wanted to remove both shims (washers) but I did as you suggested and removed only one.
My biggest problem was finding a 5mm x 40mm hex head bolt. I finally had to settle for 5mm x 50mm hex head and have the bolt shaft threaded all the way.
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