AC Compressor Gone?

First post to this NG. My '99 328i with 42K miles has finally had its first hick-up. Last week upon a 30 mile trip in moderate heat I had my AC On. AC
in this car was perfect. Upon exiting the freeway and stopping at the first light, my engine shut off and CEL came on. When I tried to start it again, it did, but with some nasty noises from the engine bay and then promptly shut down again. I opened the hood and smelt something burning. Upon poking around, I found the clutch area of the AC compressor is the area that the burning smell was originating. When I shut down the AC and started the car again, it ran fine. A couple days later I turned the AC switch on, and the engine ran normally, but I wasn't brave enough to let it run longer and see if it still cools, because someone told me I can wipe out the belt if the AC Comp clutch seizes. My friends and a mechanic I spoke to thinks my AC compressor is history. The dealer quoted (pre inspection) $1700 for a rebuilt AC compressor, belt, receiver and dryer. Ouch. To diagnose it correctly, they want $110. Ouch. And I don't see myself doing the job. Anyone have any ideas on what this could be? Another mechanic told me that in 7 years of working on bimmers, he hadn't seen a busted AC compressor. I live in the Detroit/Windsor area. If anyone can recommend any reliable German car shops, I would appreciate it as well. Thanks.
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The diagnostic price sounds about right, but the replacement cost sounds high.

Look in the yellow pages for "Auto Air Conditioning" and call around for prices. Almost all A/C systems are made by a couple of manufacturers, so you don't need to go to a BMW/foreign car repair shop.
Although I haven't personally experienced a jammed A/C compressor, I have talked to people that have. At least BMW uses a separate belt for the compressor - if it freezes and takes out your accessory belt it's AAA time.
FloydR
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You will probably find that independent shops will do this job for less (often much less). However, A/C work is expensive. About 7 years ago, I spent about $1100 for a compressor, etc., repair on my 91 Explorer.
If the compressor really is locked solid, it may have sent particles throughout the system. Any time that you open up the A/C system, the dryer (removes water from the refrigerant) is history. So, you can see that the costs really escalate.
Jim
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http://cgi.ebay.de/BMW-ALPINA-M3-E36-KLIMAKOMPRESSOR_W0QQitemZ7996148334QQca tegoryZ61863QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

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