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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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Old 08-04-2010, 09:13 PM
CruisinTN CruisinTN is offline
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Location: Southeast TN
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Mein Auto: 1999 323i
1999 323i AC compressor problem

Hi. I'm a new member here, but not a new lurker,

Lots of good info on this site, and I need some help. I have attempted to replace a bad AC compressor on my '99 323i. This is the first time I have ever messed with AC components. Everything went as planned and worked fine for about 50 miles and then...

Here's the story:
I purchased a re-manufactured compressor and new dryer at Autozone for $300 and a new expansion valve for $50 at another parts store. The reman compressor came with the lead wire but not with the plug, so I removed the plug from the old compressor. I soldered it the the lead wire on the reman comp and protected the connection with heat-shrink tubing.

I removed the old compressor, dryer and expansion valve. I flushed the evaporator, condenser and AC lines with flush solvent followed by filtered shop air. I replaced the O-rings. I filled the AC compressor with 80% of the oil and distributed the remaining oil to the dryer, condenser and evaporator.

I reassembled the components. Everything went right back together with no issues.

I turned the comp by hand to distribute the oil.

Next, I connected the gauges and pulled a vacuum for about an hour. It held at 30"Hg with no leaks. I filled it with R134a. At 80*F, the pressures at idle were 40psi low / 225psi high. I also burnished the clutch by cycling it on and off.

The car was nice and cold, so I called it "Done".

*Here is the problem*
My wife drove it about 50miles and the AC control unit inside the car went blank. I found fuse #63 blown and it blew immediately when replaced. The wires on the compressor itself appear to be fine, but the clutch and pulley are not smooth anymore. It clunks when I turn it. I don't know if the compressor is messed up or if I have an electrical issue (or both).

I returned the compressor, got anther one, did the whole process over again, and the exact same thing happened. The second failure also happened right at 50 miles.

I wonder if this particular re-manufactured compressor has the wrong clutch or an improper air gap (I didn't check it). My first thought is that the compressor is either overheating resulting in a meltdown/short of the wiring or the voltage is not correct. Does anyone have any other ideas or suggestions? I can't keep throwin' compressors on this car every 50 miles, and the wife is getting... antsy. Relay? Pressure switch? Any ideas??
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:32 AM
smolck's Avatar
smolck smolck is offline
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 22,954
Mein Auto: 2002 330i ZSP
I'd double check your wiring. When I replaced my compressor I didn't have to solder any connections. You just plug the new one into the old harness plug. Perhaps you have the wiring incorrect? Also, it is possible (as I have seen this before) that your climate control unit is bad and needs to be replaced.

Check out my YouTube Channel for DIY's and other fun stuff HERE
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:24 AM
CruisinTN CruisinTN is offline
Registered User
Location: Southeast TN
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 1999 323i
I was a little disappointed with the re-man compressor that I got from Autozone because it didn't come with the plug. The wire was there, but they expected me to take the plug off my old one and use it. I wish that I had just purchased a new comp. (plug and all). Maybe my old plug is faulty and causing the wire to ground out. I'll have to check that...

The climate control worked fine with my old compressor, but maybe it has gone bad. I'll look into that also. Thanks.
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