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A/C Clutch Pulley Bearing Bad

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    A/C Clutch Pulley Bearing Bad

    Hello. My father recently purchased a one owner 2001 Lincoln Continental. It had service records since purchase. The following A/C repairs have been done...

    2011 Replaced Compressor
    2013 Vacuum recharged 2x...states no leak found
    2018 Replaced Accumulator
    2019 Replaced Evaporator
    2019 Valve leaking...Tightened/Charged

    I am the lucky one to attempt repair of his vehicle because it's not worth spending a grand to repair.

    Upon driving the vehicle home the A/C was working and blowing cold. When parked the car smoke came from under the hood and could smell burned rubber. Turns out with the A/C on the Compressor pulley and clutch was apparently sticking causing belt to move around a stiff pulley. The pulley moved free when clutch not engaged (A/C off). Removed clutch and pulley and found pulley bearing to be bad. Replaced it with a new clutch, pulley and coil. Reassembled and tested. A/C no longer blew cold however clutch did engage and turn for a time and then same symptom as before started to smoke from rubber on the belt. Again pulley moves free no issue when A/C off. Is this likely the compressor going bad (seizing up) or too much high pressure that the compressor wont turn well? Thank you for your input/reply.

    The answer if not going to spend $1,000 on it is to unplug or totally prevent compressor to engage* so just clutch and bearing can act as a pulley and be done with it. It's going to need a belt if that was the smoke it wrecked that.
    * That means don't allow it to have power to it "OFF" doesn't mean off if auto A/C, defog or defrost it will kick on or periodically just exercise it. May put up a warning light shouldn't prevent needed heat and defrost/defog just without any compressor as part of it anymore as if it never had it.

    As I see it, it's had enough parts tossed at it for some years IDK how professionally that was done could now be back to be the problems all over again?

    If location of use makes a vehicle without A/C impossible I suggest another vehicle this now 19 years old with complicated A/C along with unforgiving costs negates the return on investment, IMO again.

    Side notes: If willing to drive vehicles this old unless a classic interest that doesn't quit luxo cars are a bad idea and endless $$ pits. Love them - lots older than this - LOTS!

    Find something more mainstream known history as best you can.

    If you really want to go nuts we can try for you but not with some limited budget for it,

    MetroWest, Boston


      Tom I agree completely with you regarding the age of the vehicle. My father is 82 and once had a 1998 Continental that he always regretted selling. He remembers the car as nearly new, not the 19 year old car he just bought. The repairs on the subject vehicle were all done at the Ford dealership. Today I made some headway. I borrowed the manifold gauges from Autozone and turns out the low pressure side was low and high pressure side was low which one possible reason for that is low refrigerant. I didn't consider low refrigerant initially because the car had cold air when purchased and lines never opened when replacing the clutch/pulley. However remembering that the previous owner had brought it to the dealership several times in the last year and a half because of blowing warm I began to think it probably has another leak or same leak so in the week it took me to remove, order, receive and replace the clutch/pulley the refrigerant might have leaked out. Possibly the previous owner added some to be able to sell the car with cold A/C or maybe it's leaking at the compressor after the pulley bearings heated everything up. That previous clutch glowed bright red with the old pulley. Any rate after 12oz of refrigerant added the A/C is working fine. I don't suspect it will stay that way as I am sure there is a leak somewhere. I'm not sure why the belt smoked initially after the new clutch/pulley was put on. No smoking since testing, adding refrigerant and running A/C. It might compressor is leaking oil/refrigerant and it gets on the belt when heats up but it has not duplicated yet. Next step I'm sure is to find the leak as I doubt it will hold the refrigerant longer than a week. See if I can do something the Ford dealership apparently could not. Haha. Thanks for your help and advice which I agree with but want to try to help my Dad get it up to par if I can so he can enjoy the nostalgia.


        Compressors don't seize from lack of refrigerant, they seize from lack of lube. If just refrigerant was added it will seize again. Your going to spend more than a grand to diagnose and repair. Oil gets carried out with the refrigerant leak.
        If the high side pressure goes to high the belt might slip and burn as well.
        Just un plug it and the clutch will act as an idler pulley.


          Thank you for the input. The compressor didnt seize. I was curious if it was in process of seizing or going weak based on symptoms. However with proper amount of refrigerant the system seems to be working well after the clutch/pulley replacement. The pressures are good but I do not think will maintain as I fear there is a leak that hasn't been detected. Going without A/C is not an option for my 82 year old father in Central Florida. Car will be sold if requires too much expense. I have no problem buying/replacing compressor if need be but for now it appears to be working. Thank you for your help.


            Compressor may work and clutch may have been "choking" on too much refrigerant? That might only happen at certain temps, clutch slipped would go red hot and or belt slip or both. Oh my, that heat there isn't good all by itself.

            Remember David there's two things going on with a clutch compressor these are. It's just a plain pulley (heavy and costly thing) when OFF as in NOT compressing anything just holds the pulley in place. That's the only time the bearing inside that is rolling as a bearing NOT when engaged. You see it's turning when engaged but still relative to shaft of compressor then so would shut up and plain work or choke.

            You really can't just add thinking you can "tweak" the system even with a known leak is a novel of quick info all at once to do so as systems since long ago don't put up with just 10% off many times. Some now (not this) only hold 12oz total! Not like the 5lb set ups of now ancient history just keep going it would blow out what it couldn't take!

            Yes, you can rent FREE in many places the equipment AYOR it's not all screwed up. Vac it out but have a scale you can trust and a gauge set you totally understand that you can run even the 12oz cans thru to save a buck plus it should be new not unknown recovered to me don't trust that.

            You need (buy probably) a known OK infrared thermo look at charts if you know all temps accurately you also know what pressure. Chart hidden in this joint shows the temp/pressure relationship you can also read that or find one say when it's liquid and when it's a vapor is an algorithm of 3 things - temp, pressure at the exact right spots.

            Noted it was dealer serviced and week's leak down is slow enough NOT to find fast so let it out the door working. IDK what that place's protocol is or time allowed is a problem for them that becomes the customers.

            Study basics, know what should be where when for temps and get a wired thermo for hanging out the window of a house/apartment test it works it' great to know incoming air temp is all the vehicle knows not anything else. Know that's best with fans on some will use water or better use a really strong fan to duplicate road speeds or close.

            It's a FWD car so fans are electric, no doubt 2 speed and capable of shutting down when airflow is enough to lower high side temp DON'T TOUCH that switch it also may not have a high side port last of these didn't for me so use temp of the line.

            Forgive me for the long novel on this it takes that to learn it and still find out there's 10X more you could know. It's also New England so A/C is seasonal if only so many shops wouldn't heat or have out the equipment isn't going to work when cold but above freezing for storage.

            Don't RUSH anything. Find out or ask away. This site is giving me fits doesn't help either.

            If I just confused you totally sorry just say so I'll try to copy paste from something I can read my own writing better see if that will work.

            You may have a chance but need to know lots more to be close to sure,

            MetroWest, Boston


              A lot of good info Tom. Thank you very much. First read through I think I have he general idea. Second read through a little more coherent but putting it into practice is something different. I am not a mechanic and dont desire to be at his stage of my life but I do like to work with mechanical things especially cars. So far today in 80F weather the A/C is blowing cold and clutch pulley working well, except now that the A/C is running I see the evaporator drain is apparently plugged. I'm going to attempt cleaning the drain and have Dad drive the car as normal while the A/C works and study up on items you mentioned in anticipation of finding/fixing the leak. Thank you. Take care.


                OK: This spot is from a few other old spots back about 20 years worth of archives, instructions, information and a "Knowledge Base" above if in view will NOT go there anymore was snatched up to sell off. Bummer on that to help now.

                For the drain only: Find it and pinch it or use plastic like a wire tie so you don't harm the evaporator inside when it has run cold with wet return lines (larger hose on way back to compressor) it should dump the water out.

                Could be a rubber elbow with a floppy end to prevent loss of cool air it's OK to cut that off allows more to drain out only marginal loss of cooling BTU if any.

                IF a cabin air filter that's suspect too hope for owner's manual to remove it most would leave one out about now as a pest can cause icing of the evaporator.

                Being the tech? OMG you are never done if this was your whole thing just take thing one by one as your time allows try NOT to make things worse! Smile,

                MetroWest, Boston


                  Unfortunately could not get the drain free by poking/prodding. It comes out at the firewall and has an elbow about an inch in. I saw you can buy a foam and spray in it that is suppose to clean it up in there but not sure how well that stuff works. I also think I can get to the casing from the top where the cabin filter is. Doubt will work on it today. 46 degrees here in Florida. Will stay indoors today


                    Cold here was just 8F isn't that bad. Laugh, Great Black River, Maine was - (minus that is) -33F those are hardy folks will break down and put a coat on! Not a joke I've been in colder no wind but is in the OMG territory!

                    That drain issue? If pollen and hardened up could be a pest. I till want you to try again and again with plastic even some weed-whacker stronger. I needs some water in it if you can add some clean water (go easy) see it work and maybe what type of yuck comes out.

                    Fla. IDK if pollen, other dirt or even bugs set up shop in there. Some "mud" wasps will make a water tight seal like concrete does bust up may need to move up to weak wire getting to AYOR I don't want you to puncture anything you shouldn't.

                    Other: Some hose come right off leaving a hole only maybe back push some water but would suggest some Lysol to kill mold there and on wet carpet if behind carpet it has to lift up and really get it that will make a "sick" car if bad! Really can. Rugs do NOT dry out they are sealed if wet under them just BTW.

                    Keep thinking you are looking at the location what tricks you can pull that has to drain or system will be all over the place with performance issues if nothing else was wrong,

                    MetroWest, Boston