2000 Forester A/C question

I just purchased a used 2000 Forester and need a question answered regarding the A/C.
I live out in the Denver area, so it can get quite hot at times under the
direct sun (~1 mi less atmosphere to filter it!). I've noticed that the A/C seems to not cool as much (or not at all) when I'm sitting idling for a period of time (eg. waiting for someone in a store or in the local gas station car wash). Most of the time though, the A/C is fine. In fact, when the sun isn't trying to burn a hole through the roof, it can get downright chilly in the car!
Is this a normal thing or is it a sign the A/C is about to completely die on me soon? Does the A/C in a Forester turn off the chilling part to save energy or something? Or maybe when the compressor itself gets a bit too hot?
Any and all pertinent info would be greatly appreciated for this newbie Subaru owner!
P. Ruzicka Aurora, CO
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Well, mine is temperamental at times. 02 FXS, climate control.
Sometimes it feels the need to cryogenically freeze me out of nowhere, almost always on already cold days, and the warm-up time for the climate control feels like forever on a hot day.
Perhaps get it checked by a dealer, doesn't sound like it's out of gas if it still cools down.
Quite possible the compressor turns off at idle; or the alternator is not turning fast enough to supply enough power.
Does the engine speed increase when you turn the aircon on? Turn the AC off, leave your car running for a short while (20-30secs) then turn it back on. Idle speed should increase slightly to allow the alternator to supply enough power.
-mark
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I live in sunny SW Florida and yes my AC is not the greatest if I'm parked in 95 degree sun and the engine is idling. To maximize the cooling under those conditions I usually keep the recalculate feature on and crack a window about 1 inch. If that isn't enough then I will keep the compressor running faster by keeping the engine rpm at 1500-2000.

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Sorry if this is a dumb question, but what exactly do you mean about the "recalculate feature"?

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Recirculate = pulls air from the cabin rather than the outside. The button with the curved arrow turning back on itself near your AC on/off button does it.

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LOL I didn't realize that he meant recirculate, instead of recalculate!

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Yes, I can see a slight change on the tach when I power the A/C on and off.
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I have a similar issue on my 2002. However, I was able to track it back to the alternator not supplying enough power. If you watch your voltage at idle with the air on vs. not, you will see a good 1.5v difference. Unfortunately, the only solution is a better alternator, which I'm not going to bother with until this one dies. Recirc does help a lot though!
My girlfriend's Passat has the same issue too, but her's is related to the compressor not turning fast enough at idle. So her solution is to slightly rev the engine. (Which also works on the Scoobaru too)
-Kurt
ruzicka wrote:

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Confirm that both 'radiator' fans are working. Also, if its like my wife's OBW, there is a photocell somewhere on the top of the dash. Just make sure it isn't blocked by some paperwork, tras or a dashcover or something. It supposedly measures solar loading.
Carl
ruzicka wrote:

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to reply, change ( .not) to ( .net)

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Sounds normal if it happens to a *small* degree: if you are stuck at a long light and it's real hot then engine temps will build up under the hood and colder air will not be passing as much (since there is less air-flow w/o foreword motion) and the delta-T goes down... so in effect the A/C is much less efficient, and thus less cold. With miles, though, as Freon slowly leaks and pressure in the system slowly drops it will have a greater effect than when the car was spanking new.

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