97 Dodge Caravan Air Conditioner Screech

I have a 1997 Dodge Caravan with the 3.0 litre engine. A few years ago a problem developed with the air conditioner. Every now and then it would
give out a little 'chirp'. The chirp gradually increased to a screech, especially during acceleration.
I expected that this was an isolated case until one day while waiting at a red light the Caravan beside me made the same screeching noise when accelerating after the light turned green. This led me to think that maybe it was a common problem.
I was going to put off fixing it until spring but the other day I started the van to let it idle for a few minutes to warm up. I went outside a few minutes later to find a 'rattling' noise under the hood. I suspected that it was part of the air conditioner problem so I removed the drive belt, which stopped the rattling.
My first thought was that it might be the clutch in the compressor, although I have not ruled out the possibility of the idler pulley.
Has anyone else run across this? And if so, if it was the compressor, can it be repaired on the vehicle or does the compressor have to be removed for repair?
Thanks for all thoughts.
Ed
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It could be the belt needs tensioning, or replacement. When was the last time you replaced the belt? You say a few years ago, which could indicate a elt change is due. You should do one every 60,000 miles. It could also be you need a new tensioner, or as you say, the compressor itself, but that seems a little more unlikely....but if it is, you will have to take the compressor off to service it. Its hard to say withought being there to hear the noise...
Good Luck..
Fwed
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Loose belt and/or a glazed belt. Replace it & set the tension, problem should go away.
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Sometimes my posts don't always get thru.... so here it is again....
It could be the belt needs tensioning, or replacement. When was the last time you replaced the belt? You say a few years ago, which could indicate a belt change is due. You should do one every 60,000 miles. It could also be you need a new tensioner, or as you say, the compressor itself, but that seems a little more unlikely....but if it is, you will have to take the compressor off to service it. Its hard to say withought being there to hear the noise...
Good Luck..
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Thanks for the responses.
I have tried replacing the belt and increasing the tension on it but it sounds more like a metal screech than a belt screech. That's why I was leaning towards the clutch or perhaps the idler pulley.
Unfortunately it doesn't do it while just idling so I can't listen to it up close.
Ed

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So your saying its a screech AND a rattle. Pulley could be the rattle and who's to say the screech is air conditioning? Could be alternator belt, or noisy water pump belt. (not sure if one belt serves both)
An air conditioning compressor belt will be under load when the compressor kicks on, at idle or not. So if thats not screeching during idle when it kicks on, it wouldnt be the biggest suspect IMO. I can't see how a screeching metal component can exist without chards of metal being evident around any of the shafts to any of these pulleys. Look at them good with a good light.
That rattle is interesting. With the motor off, try grabbing the pulleys and check them for any loose play. I mean ANY. You may need to pull ALL the belts off. You should replace them with good belts if they all have not been replaced.
Have you ran the vehicle and operated the throttle from the linkage under the hood? *If you do this, stay clear of moving belts and pulleys and just observe while you rev it a couple times.* Do not stick your hands or loose clothing near the moving parts. You might get lucky and catch the sounds sources.
just some basic stuff ..hope it helps.

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Sounds like the belt tensioner on my '94 just before it packed it in....
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Thank you for your comment. I was wondering if anyone else had experience with faulty tensioner idler pulley.
wrote:

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