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1999/BMW 323i/ AC Compressor Replacement

I need to replace my AC compressor in my '99 323i sedan..... I have found a rebuilt one online for only $150 plus 25 for shipping... Can anyone help me on possible installation of this compressor... I do realize that I will need someone to charge it for me.... but other than that I am Mechanically inclined enough to do this... assuming I have the proper tools....

I would appreciate any advice! Thanks.

Ryan
 

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Not onlky do you need to have someone charge it, you're going to have to have the system properly evacuated before opening up any hoses. AC work isn't trivial nowadays. A lot of places that used to no longer do AC these days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How about Labor costs?

I have been licesened to charge and recover refrigerant... however you need to retake the test every 2 years I think, and besides I don't have the recovery tank or hoses for it... maybe I should just buy the compressor and have someone do the labor..... what is the goig rate for labor on a compressor?

Kaz said:
Not onlky do you need to have someone charge it, you're going to have to have the system properly evacuated before opening up any hoses. AC work isn't trivial nowadays. A lot of places that used to no longer do AC these days.
 

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Diving in for repair

I noticed this thread was old, but instead of starting new - I will tack on here.

I just bought a used 1999 323i with 110k miles a couple of months ago and the AC clutch just died. Not sure if the compresssor was seized or not - as the AC was running cold just prior to failing.

I noticed the service engine light (light shaped like the picture of an engine) and the engine feeling like it was missing. When I pulled to a stop light, it puttered and died. I drove to a safer place to stop, shut off the engine and restarted and drove the 4 blocks home. The light was off and stayed off. When I got home, i revved a bit to see if the engine was misfiring - with no symptoms. However, i noticed the burning electrical smell. I had just fixted a burned AC clutch/compressor in my wife's van so I recognized the smell and noticed the smoke coming from the AC clutch.

I let the car cool down, removed the fan housing and removed the AC drive belt, which looked fined so the "engine missing" feeling that could have been coming from the seized compressor seems to not be likely. Driving with out the AC belt for 4 days with no performance isses (man I like the way this car drives :drive: ) has confirmed that the performance issues were related to the AC compressor regardless of the apparently good condition of the drive belt.

I have identified a place to perform the legal evac and subsequent recharge after I replace the compressor and dryer. I expect to post my repair with some way points for those who wish to brave their own repair later.

As a point of note - the repair was quoted by my local European repair shop at $1300. Which includes $770 for compressor, $181 for dryer and balance in labor and freon (R134). I found a salvaged compressor on ebay (risky I know) from a car with 8K miles. Part was pulled from a fully charged system, pluged and tested. I will buying the dryer new for obvious reasons.

Does anyone have specs on how much refrigerant oil the system requires and what kind? Please be specific if possible.

:hi: Any Bentley manual owners willing to share access guide points from the manual on how to get to the compressor. I am expecting to remove the fan housing and the lower oil pan and drop the compressor from the bottom. The dryer I think needs to come out the Right front weel well, I don't think I can get it from the top. Any guidance would be helpful. While I plan to get a Bentley manual sometime, the $$ for this repair has set me off of my budget- I will spend the $100 later to get the manual.
 

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Note on Failed AC Compressor

I talked with a repair shop today and the technician commented, that if the compressor shaft will not turn freely, then the compressor internals have seized. In that case - it is best practice to not only reclaim the freon (R134) but also to flush the non damaged components of the system. Checking if the compressor is seized or not is simple. There is a 10mm nut on the center of the pulley of the clutch. This nut is directly linked to the shaft of the compressor. If it turns, then it is likely the internals of the compressor are ok. If it will not turn, the compressor is seized. In my case the compressor does turn, and therefore I have concluded the clutch bearing is bad and thus the compressor and clutch need to be replaced.

I just recieved the salvaged compressor today. It has a small part of the mounting bracket that is damaged, but the essential elements are all intact. I am planning to have the system evacuated tomorrow. So we will see how it goes.
 

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Compressor repair completed

It took me a while to get an evening to be able to replace the compressor. Yesterday I called a parts shop to get the dryer but they couldn't get it for me - they referred me to a local repair shop that had a different distributor that could get me the proper dryer. When I went to get the dryer they pumped down the AC system. They measured the volume they extracted and when they recharged they only charged me for the make up. Earlier this year, I repaired the AC on my wife's van and when the repair shop pumped down the system they did not give me credit for the removed refrigerant, they claimed they don't reuse it.

I purchased the Bentley manual for the 3 series E46. I was surprised that the detail of PAG viscosity was not mentioned, nor was the volume of oil in the system stated. I found the following websites to be very helpful in verifying the proper PAG oil and the proper volume.

http://hostingprod.com/@aa1car.com/library/pagoil.htm
http://hostingprod.com/@aa1car.com/library/2004/us50414.htm

I also found that the realoem.com site was helpful.

For my model of compressor (Denso 7SBU16C) the specification was PAG 46. Capacity of the system was 5.4 fluid oz.

I tried to get the new o-rings - but the parts dealer did not have them, although it was risky I inspected and lubricated the old rings and reused them.

Here is the "way points" of the removal and replacement.

Obviously - have the system pumped/evacuated of old refrigerant.

To get to the compressor connections - remove and set aside the washer fluid reservoir.

To get to the dryer - remove and set aside the right head light. It is held in place by 4 screws, two on top of the assembly, one next to the radiator (slightly hard to see), and the last behind the light assembly.

Jack the right side of the car up and put on a jack stand. Remove the dust cover from the bottom of the engine compartment. Held in place by 5 or 6 screws.

Remove the AC drive belt - The compressor is on it's own drive belt and can easily be removed by removing the tension using a wrench to turn the tensioner.

Remove the connections to the compressor using a 6mm allen wrench. It is nearly impossible to do this with out an extension and swivel connection on a ratchet wrench. Believe me I tried.

Remove the connection to the dryer using the same 6mm allen wrench.

There are two bolts that hold the dryer bracket to the chassis, one accessible from the engine compartment, and one below the car.

The compressor is held in place with 3 - 13mm bolts. Once the bolts are removed, you still need to tap the compressor to release it from the mounts.

Add the PAG oil, I put about 80% into the compressor and the rest into the dryer. I may have overcharged with the oil, as I put in 5 oz. By my understanding this reduces the efficiency of the system, but now that the job is completed, the system operates just fine.

Lubricate the o-rings and reconnect the lines to the compressor.

When replacing the dryer, mark the dryer orientation prior to removing the old dryer. This makes aligning the new dryer in the right direction so that the connections are placed correctly.

Replace the compressor - taking care to not dump out the oil added.

Reconnect the compressor fittings.

Reconnect the dryer fittings. I found it slightly easier to connect the lines prior to mounting the dryer, there is hooks on the bracket that hold it in place without having to have the bolts in place.

The rest of the reassembly is just a reverse of the disassembly.

Have the system pumped down and checked to make sure the system holds a vacuum. Then have the system recharged. Make sure to mention that you have added oil to the system so that the repair shop does not add oil during the recharge.

The summary of my repair costs are:
Compressor - $190 - salvaged from car with 6k miles.
Dryer $120
Pump down and recharge $120

Considering the shop I called was going to charge $1300, I am pleased with the results. The system blows cold now. We will see how long the repair holds, hopefully I won't be regretting complete the repair on my own.
 

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Thanks for the write up.

I'm going to try this tomorrow. Will also replace suction hose to reduce interior noise.

Did you plug the A/C lines during your work and if so what did you use to plug them??

Thanks,

Etienne
 

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AC oil

did you flush your system before you added the 5 oz of oil in your compressor?

It took me a while to get an evening to be able to replace the compressor. Yesterday I called a parts shop to get the dryer but they couldn't get it for me - they referred me to a local repair shop that had a different distributor that could get me the proper dryer. When I went to get the dryer they pumped down the AC system. They measured the volume they extracted and when they recharged they only charged me for the make up. Earlier this year, I repaired the AC on my wife's van and when the repair shop pumped down the system they did not give me credit for the removed refrigerant, they claimed they don't reuse it.

I purchased the Bentley manual for the 3 series E46. I was surprised that the detail of PAG viscosity was not mentioned, nor was the volume of oil in the system stated. I found the following websites to be very helpful in verifying the proper PAG oil and the proper volume.

http://hostingprod.com/@aa1car.com/library/pagoil.htm
http://hostingprod.com/@aa1car.com/library/2004/us50414.htm

I also found that the realoem.com site was helpful.

For my model of compressor (Denso 7SBU16C) the specification was PAG 46. Capacity of the system was 5.4 fluid oz.

I tried to get the new o-rings - but the parts dealer did not have them, although it was risky I inspected and lubricated the old rings and reused them.

Here is the "way points" of the removal and replacement.

Obviously - have the system pumped/evacuated of old refrigerant.

To get to the compressor connections - remove and set aside the washer fluid reservoir.

To get to the dryer - remove and set aside the right head light. It is held in place by 4 screws, two on top of the assembly, one next to the radiator (slightly hard to see), and the last behind the light assembly.

Jack the right side of the car up and put on a jack stand. Remove the dust cover from the bottom of the engine compartment. Held in place by 5 or 6 screws.

Remove the AC drive belt - The compressor is on it's own drive belt and can easily be removed by removing the tension using a wrench to turn the tensioner.

Remove the connections to the compressor using a 6mm allen wrench. It is nearly impossible to do this with out an extension and swivel connection on a ratchet wrench. Believe me I tried.

Remove the connection to the dryer using the same 6mm allen wrench.

There are two bolts that hold the dryer bracket to the chassis, one accessible from the engine compartment, and one below the car.

The compressor is held in place with 3 - 13mm bolts. Once the bolts are removed, you still need to tap the compressor to release it from the mounts.

Add the PAG oil, I put about 80% into the compressor and the rest into the dryer. I may have overcharged with the oil, as I put in 5 oz. By my understanding this reduces the efficiency of the system, but now that the job is completed, the system operates just fine.

Lubricate the o-rings and reconnect the lines to the compressor.

When replacing the dryer, mark the dryer orientation prior to removing the old dryer. This makes aligning the new dryer in the right direction so that the connections are placed correctly.

Replace the compressor - taking care to not dump out the oil added.

Reconnect the compressor fittings.

Reconnect the dryer fittings. I found it slightly easier to connect the lines prior to mounting the dryer, there is hooks on the bracket that hold it in place without having to have the bolts in place.

The rest of the reassembly is just a reverse of the disassembly.

Have the system pumped down and checked to make sure the system holds a vacuum. Then have the system recharged. Make sure to mention that you have added oil to the system so that the repair shop does not add oil during the recharge.

The summary of my repair costs are:
Compressor - $190 - salvaged from car with 6k miles.
Dryer $120
Pump down and recharge $120

Considering the shop I called was going to charge $1300, I am pleased with the results. The system blows cold now. We will see how long the repair holds, hopefully I won't be regretting complete the repair on my own.
 

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I had the exact symptoms until a few days ago when the AC died. I had just changed the spark plugs a couple hours earlier when I started getting more pronounced "missing" as I drove down the highway. The engine actually came to a clunky (audibly) stop as I waited at a stoplight (think diesel engine spittering to a stall). I restarted it and it ran for a few seconds and shut off again. I waited a couple minutes and restarted it and it ran fine however the difference now was no cold air. I think the seizing compressor shaft was causing the "missing" sensation. I also think the clunking sound was something breaking in the compressor. Now that its free-wheeling inside, the engine has never ran better but I have no air. Stealer wanted $1200 for a new one... HA!! I just bought one from FCP Groton for $299 and will post detailed photos of the install in a week or so. Bartly, wonderful post. Thanks for your detailed info.
 
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