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Old 10-26-2010, 05:47 AM   #1
kebirkley
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Default 96 Civic EX with Bad A/C Compressor Clutch - Can I just cut the belt?

I'm not very good with cars, and I'd appreciate any input. I have a 1996 Civic EX, 4D, with about 143,000 miles. A couple of months ago, I started hearing some noise. When I took it in for inspection in September, my mechanic (who I've only been using for about a year, but seems like a good guy) told me that it was the AC compressor clutch, and quoted me $672 to make the repair, but I had some time before it needed to be done. I didn't have it done then, but since then the noise has gotten progressively louder and this morning, as I pulled in to work, I saw that the belt was smoking. Clearly, I'm not driving it any more without making this repair- the question is, to repair or give up at this point. The Bluebook Trade-in Value is probably about $1075, given that there's some body damage (superficial, but notably dented) and the beginnings of some rust around the wheel wells. I can't afford a new car (just started a full time job a couple of months ago after a year and a half of un/underemployment), and could really barely afford to make the repair- if anything else went wrong, I really couldn't afford it and making the repair would have been a waste of $700, though I can afford to get by without a car at all for a while. I had planned to give the car to my brother to trade in when he buys a new car in a couple of months (in exchange for him taking over the carpool), so if making the repair would notably improve the trade-in value, that's a consideration.
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: 1996 Civic EX AC Compressor Clutch

As summer is gone, you can simply cut off the A/C belt for now. But first make sure the problem is the A/C belt. It's the middle belt of the three. Also make sure the problem is not a bad idler pulley, which is an easier fix than the compressor clutch.

If the compressor clutch is indeed bad and you were able to do the work yourself, you could buy a compressor clutch kit for about $100. In addition, it's feasible to replace the clutch without disconnecting the refrigerant lines and removing the compressor.
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: 1996 Civic EX AC Compressor Clutch

Really? The guy at the shop- who was not the mechanic, just the office guy- said that the AC belt was somehow involved with other, important belts, and that I couldn't do that. Can I just take the belt off myself?
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: 1996 Civic EX AC Compressor Clutch

Quote:
Originally Posted by kebirkley View Post
Really? The guy at the shop- who was not the mechanic, just the office guy- said that the AC belt was somehow involved with other, important belts, and that I couldn't do that. Can I just take the belt off myself?
They are badly misinformed. Just cut the belt off. The only thing you will lose is A/C.
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: 1996 Civic EX AC Compressor Clutch

they are trying to scam you. do you know where your a/c compressor is? there is a belt that turns it...cut it and you'll be fine. Same thing happened to my dad last week, there's no point in paying a mechanic $600 to fix that
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: 1996 Civic EX AC Compressor Clutch

Your A/C Compressor is the big round unit which lies behind your aircon radiator with your exhaust Manifold running next to it with a belt attached to it and will look something like this :

Click the image to open in full size.



if your belt was smoking , all that's happened is that the neck int he aircon unit has probably seized and now does not spin .. so the belt which is being rotated by your crank is now simply running against a stationary pulley .. friction causes heat and hence the smoke... Cut the belt off and you will be fine. the price the gentleman gave you here where i stay would be the equivalent to a NEW unit. if it is the neck and you can service it.. by all means do so .. but with a seized bearing you are going to have issues removing it...

This happened to one of my previous cars with a HORRIBLE noise.. sounded something like a cat howling with a metal to metal screeching sound inbetween ...

go to your nearest Breaker/ salvage yard and ask them for a honda aircon compressor unit.. as there were two different units used on the cars which correspond to the bracket and pulley mounted behind it. .. you will need to look for the green sticker on your unit and see what it says (Honda OEM Cradle/ SLAM tray will have a green sticker on it with this same information ) the sticker will say Sanden 134a, Alternately it will be a "TRS090" unit like the one above or something along those lines.. take note of it and find one which is the same .. this however would mean releasing all the gas in your system which would then need to be refilled by a reputable aircon centre.. reason for this is that i the wrong compressor oil is mixed witht he wrong gas.. you may end up with Rocks forming inside your compressor and you'll need to flush out yoru whole system .


should be between $100 and $142 MAX! I have a spare which i would ship to you .. but the price you'd pay on shipping... you may as well buy new.

as for short answer... as sde780 said.. locate the belt and cut it..

I wouldn't suggest trying to remove it without cutting it as it would involve loosening your lower left engine mount, your altenator belt and if i recall correctly .. your power steering belt too .

Last edited by Unsung_boss; 10-26-2010 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 10-26-2010, 08:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: 1996 Civic EX AC Compressor Clutch

If you decide later to fix the problem, be sure to verify that the idler pulley spins freely and quietly before doing any work on the compressor.
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