94 Taurus Wagon AC Finally Took A Dump

Well, it finally happened: when I engaged the air conditioner yesterday for the first time, it started squealing almost instantly and then smoke started pouring
out from under the hood a moment later. I disengaged and the squeal stopped. The smoke cleared a minute later. I assume the compressor seized.
Seeing as how it's the original R12 system, what am I looking at in repairs? My father gave me this car and I've already spent too much on it to walk away from it... besides, it's in excellent shape otherwise. I use it for my Lowesmobile.
I live in Charlotte, NC. It's possible I might be able to wrangle a friend into doing this for me but I'll probably have to get a pro to do it for me.
--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN wrote:

Get a compressor from a yard, convert the system to R-134. I did it on a '87 Taurus & on a '88 Aerostar w/ no problems, no leaks, no failures.
Rob
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN wrote:

Two ways to go on this. Convert to R134 and hope "black death" doesn't occur, or Take the test online for an exemption certificate and get the IMACA license for $25; then, you can buy/use all the R12 you want.
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"Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> wrote in message

Get a new or good rebuilt compressor and whatever plugs up with crud from 14 years of compressor wear. I got fREEZE 12 on ebay from a couple sources and used it instead of r134, it uses the same oil and such as r12. Works very well after two years.
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Didn't the 94's have 134? think my 95 Taurus sedan did.
Scott wrote:

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On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 22:31:06 -0500, dmtaurus

All of the '94 Fords were/are R134 from the factory. Swapping that compressor can be a job. A new orifice line and accumulator will be needed. It is also adviseable to put filters in system on both orifice line and low pressure to compressor. That should take care of any debris. The OPmay havt to visit an a/c parts supplier. Many repair shops do not want to screw around with the filters for whatever reason but, they do help prevent repeat failures.
Lugnut
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lugnut wrote:

My bad. I must have just gotten up when I wrote that. The Taurus wagon is a 92... and it definitely uses R12. If I fix this problem, I'll be converting to R-134 just to make future problems less trouble.
What kind of money am I looking at?
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 05:34:10 -0400, "Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> wrote:>lugnut wrote:

It all depends on which compressor and refrigerant you decide to go with. Staying with R12, you may be able to get out around $3-350 in parts plus another $150 or so for the refrigerant. A bit more expensive compressor and accumulator are usually used with R134. The compressor on it is a bear to get at. The easiest way is to get it on stands, removed the RF wheel and inner fender liner along with some things on the top side. I would expect you will spend $5-700 on labor and would not be surprised to see the total cost easily over $1,000 at a shop. You can usually beat those prices with some aggressive price shopping but, keep in mind that it is most important to get it done right. Take a look at Rockauto.com for an idea of some parts prices. They seem to have a broad selection as far as pricing. Again, good quality parts ar the only way to go. It has been my experience here in the SE where the a/c is run most of the time and hard in the summer that 60-80k miles is about all you can reliably expect from the damn compressor but, the filters can greatly improve that in a repaired system by catching the debris that normally collects in those systems. This also keeps the debris from clogging the metering orifice and degrading performance over time. I have yet to have a repeat failure in a system where I installed filters on both sides - don't mean it won't happen.
What you have to do is decide how much the car is worth. For some reason, I place low consideration points on that when I am not intending to get rid of the vehicle for other reasons. That's why I spent the value of my F150 to have it painted a couple of years back - I just like the vehicle something like an old pair of comfortable shoes.
Good luck
Lugnut
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lugnut wrote:

I'm pretty much like you, I guess. I've put a good $4000 in repairs into this car already because my father wasn't much for repairs unless something was a safety issue. I spent more money on repairs than the residual value of the car mostly because it's worth more than that to me. I initially had been in the market for a used pickup just to make my runs to Lowes and HD... I was tired of trying to haul oversized items in my Taurus sedan. When my dad offered me this car for free I gladly accepted. And even with the money I've sunk into it, what kind of pickup could I have gotten for $4000? And what pickup gets 30 mpg?
So I expect I'll get it fixed, and I probably will get it converted to R134a just to avoid future problems. Many places that advertise AC service these days don't do R12 work anymore.
Anyway, thanks for the feedback. And thanks to everyone else who tried to help.
--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN wrote:

In addition to what others have said, there are a couple of things to look for on these cars. Be sure to replace the accumulator. The old desiccant isn't compatible with R-134, and at this age the bag could very well rupture and destroy the compressor. The accumulator and suction line are one assembly. You can buy just an accumulator that clamps onto the existing line, BUT, the line is often badly rusted inside the foam jacket where it passes in front of the engine. Peel the foam back and inspect it before you decide which way to go. Look closely at the hose and manifold set coming off of the compressor. If the power steering pump leaks, the oil will saturate and soften the rubber. Moving it around to replace the compressor will weaken it more and it will usually fail soon after the repair. PS leaks are also what commonly causes the front motor to fail on Tauri. With a catastrophic compressor failure, you MUST flush or replace the condenser. If you don't, debris will plug the orifice and destroy the new compressor. Lacquer thinner and compressed air works well. Your best bet is a known good (used?) condenser though. Flush the evaporator while you're there. Don't flush the accumulator or the orifice line! Be sure to replace the Orings on ALL of the spring fittings. It's ~$5 worth of cheap insurance. Make sure to use the right tools for the spring lock couplers. http://tinyurl.com/2gceea Any of the others are marginal at best and just plain junk at worst.
To remove the compressor: Remove the remaining refrigerant, remove the belt, remove the cooling fan assembly. From underneath unbolt the manifold from the rear of the compressor. (Removing the lower radiator hose will give you more room but is not totally necessary), disconnect the electrical connector. loosen the 4 mounting bolts leaving them in the compressor, bring the compressor back (Toward the driver side) and down. IIRC, 2 of the bolts can be completely removed but at least 2 will need to stay in the compressor housing. There is not enough clearance to remove them.
As for cost, shop around. Here's a list with my guestimates:
Compressor- $200 (Stay away from Four Seasons\Everco!!) Accumulator\hose asy- $120 Discharge line with orifice- $35 Compressor manifold asy- $100 Condenser- $50 (used) $150 new R134- $25 Ester based oil- $7.00 O-rings- $5 (Don't forget the little one for the cycling switch)
One last thought. When a compressor fails like this, a "firewall forward" replacement is usually recommended. Being an older car, some careful junkyard hunting can possibly find all of the parts you need except the compressor. Look for parts that are in good shape or that appear to have been recently replaced in cars that still have at least some refrigerant in the system. If the oil in the parts is clean, they are likely ok. Grey or black residue can mean trouble. For a lot of great AC info, check out: www.autoacforum.com
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