Advice Needed: Aerostar AC Compressor Clutch

My 93 Aerstar has 170,000 miles. Today when I switched on the Air Conditioning I heard a loud squeal from the engine compartment and
soon smelled burning rubber. Later when I had a friend switch the AC on and off while I observed the compressor, I could see the plate initially move in to engage then quickly disengage. Increasing RPMs caused a loud squeal and the burning rubber smell again. Does this sound like the clutch itself has gone bad, or some other problem (bearings?) in the compressor?
Assuming it is the clutch, how difficult is it to replace? Can it be done without pulling the compressor? I read somewhere that special tools are required for Ford AC clutch replacement....are those still available for loan at AutoZone? Also, given its age, would I be better off in the long run buying a remanufactured compressor and clutch, changing it myslf and then having a pro charge the system?
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You're probably better off getting a new compressor. If you do go this route make sure you get the system flushed & a new filter drier too wouldn't hurt.
Also your '93 might still be R-12 freon which is expensive. You might as well get it converted to R-134 too.
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On 2/20/2010 10:54 PM, m6onz5a wrote:

Sounds like the compressor has locked up. It probably has internal damage and needs to be replaced. If it is the bearings they've failed catastrophically. Either way, it's messed up bad. The good news is that your clutch is working fine but you'd be wise to replace that. I'd replace the belt too but that's just me.
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On Sat, 20 Feb 2010 18:28:28 -0800 (PST), Josh

It sounds like your compressor has locked up to me. With the engine off grab the clutch and see if you can turn it.
Steve B.
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Read the other replies...They say most likely a compressor.. I agree. BUT you CAN check it out.
Many tools are still available at Autozone. They even sell a few parts but I would only buy a compressor from them if it were new and guaranteed, which I dont know if they have.
If your compressor is seized, you probably need to flush this system, etc etc, and replace with a new compressor. If you cant do this, have it professionally done or dump the Furd.
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Probably a silly question but I need to ask it anyway: Do I need to remove the serpentine belt before trying to turn the clutch? And if it turns freely, does that mean the clutch is OK and the problem is the compressor (bearings, etc.)?

AutoZone's web page indicates new compressors with clutch are $298, vs. rebuilt version with 90 day warranties $230-250. Clutches by themselves are $122. I've been running one of AZ's 12K warranty rebuilt water pumps for 50K miles now.....guess I'd probably go with the new compressor since I want to hang onto the Aerostar for another 5 years or more.

as well get it converted to R-134 too.
Yep, it's an R-12 system. Anyone know if the Aerostar is a good candidate for conversion to R134, or do major parts have to be replaced? Wouldn't want to sink $300 into a new compressor only to find out it won't work with R134.
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On 2/21/2010 2:35 PM, Josh wrote:

You'll have to take the belt off. The problem is that the pulley will be freewheeling and you'll need to engage the clutch. I don't know if you can do that unless the engine is running. If you can't, then you might be able to apply 12 volts to the magnetic clutch by jumping the wires to the clutch connector. You could also remove the clutch and then try turning the compressor flange. However, there's not much point in doing any tests on the clutch since your compressor is locked up. Symptoms of a bad clutch would be a wobbly clutch cover or clutch slipping - not locking up. As was mentioned by his, you might have some contamination of the refrigerant with compressor particles which may require that you flush out the system and replace the filter/dryer.

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On Sun, 21 Feb 2010 16:35:59 -0800 (PST), Josh

No. With the engine off and a/c off (key out of ignition) the clutch is released so there is no mechanical connection between the face of the clutch and the pulley. It won't turn freely meaning you can just spin it but you can turn it by hand.

I haven't heard great things about their new compressors. They are new but they aren't OEM. Some kind of Chinese knock off crap. Check out the discussion boards at www.aircondition.com. There are some great folks there that do this all day every day and know what you will need and the best places to get it from. Some things I will risk lower quality parts on but not a/c stuff due to the work involved.
Steve B.
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wrote:

I have bought a fair amount of AC parts at www.ackits.com These people have been very helpful, and the parts have been reasonably priced and of very good quality.
Local mechanic here, a friend of mine, says he has had good luck with NAPA new and rebuilds. There is definitely an advantage to having a nearby parts source, although they might be a little more expensive.
IIRC, most if not all of the new compressors can take 134. Check to be sure, however. In my limited experience, 134 can do a good job if you do the conversion with thoroughness. But, dont do a halfway job.
If the OP doesnt know what constitutes a thorough job, he needs to do some reading (ackits website and forum are good sources for info).
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ck

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quoted text -

From my experience all compressors can take the r134. The only difference is the gaskets & o-rings & the oil used (which is all a conversion kit is).
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I would not buy a compressor from AutoZone. I might even consider a junkyard part before I bought from them. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Also if you do go the new/rebuilt compressor route make sure the system gets flushed properly and you replace the drier & orifice tube or you will void your warranty. Also make sure your mechanic documents everything on your workorder so you have proof it was done in case something goes wrong down the road.
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