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My A/C system has a leak in it and my compressor is making an awful noise: probably needs replacing. Winter is coming though, and I really don't want to spend any time or money on tracking down leaks and converting to 134a and all that jazz. What I want is the simplest way to make the compressor stop spinning when the engine is on. Can I just cut/remove the belt? Could that have negative side effects?

The compressor is on a belt by itself. It's the only reason I would consider removing the belt completely.

Also, are there any significant advantages or disadvantages to removing a non-functioning A/C system entirely?

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Unless the compressor is on a belt by itself, you don't want to remove the belt. Water pumps, alternators and power steering are nice things to have. An A/C delete/bypass pulley for your application would be a way to go, but it will involve pulling the compressor. Probably the easiest thing to do is locate the appropriate relay and pull it. If it's the compressor making the noise and not the pulley/clutch, that should work. Otherwise it's pulley time.

If the compressor is on a belt by itself, I guess you could remove the belt. I would still look for the relay and pull it, though. If it was my car, I wouldn't want to drive it long term without putting the delete pulley on. I would be worried the belt off situation was a corner case the engineers didn't worry about.

Keep in mind that whatever leaks you have now are possibly going to multiply if you leave the system unpressurized for an extended period. Also, the compressor is engaged intermittently when you turn on the defroster to dry the air. If your windshield fogs up it will take longer to clear without the compressor.

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what if the compressor is on a belt by itself? –  vlsd Oct 21 '13 at 17:33
    
@vlsd In that case you could remove the belt, I suppose. –  Mark Johnson Oct 21 '13 at 20:31
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I've done this mod (just removing the belt) on an 88 Civic with no ill effects. –  R.. Oct 22 '13 at 3:05
    
Didn't know that about the compressor turning on with the defroster. It makes for a very good case to pull the relay since I don't really want to engage the compressor without pressure in the system. Concerning the leaks, is there any advantage/disadvantage to completely removing a non-functioning A/C system? –  vlsd Oct 22 '13 at 19:46
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@vlsd Apart from the less effective defroster setting, I don't see any problems with a removed A/C system. Removing the compressor, condenser, dryer and the lines connecting them will be fairly straightforward. The evaporator is up under the dash with the heater core and will be a huge pain to remove. Probably best to plug the lines and forget about it. –  Mark Johnson Oct 22 '13 at 20:37
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Cutting the belt will solve your problem as long as the belt doesn't drive any other component. If it's making noise all the time you likely only need to replace the pulley, which may be cost effective. Sometimes it cheaper to replace the the compressor/pulley/clutch combination.

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For a compressor, it's almost certainly not cheaper to replace the whole thing; just the cost of vacuuming out and refilling the system will be higher than the cost of the pulley. –  R.. Oct 22 '13 at 3:05
    
@R.. Good point, I can do that part myself so I didn't factor that in. It still may be cheaper to buy the combo and take the pulley off. Depends on the car but for many the whole ac compressor including clutch and pulley is cheaper. –  Larry Oct 22 '13 at 3:40
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