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Q: Most likely problem when A/C stops working? on 2003 Ford Taurus

I have regularly maintained my 03 Ford Taurus SES and never had any major problems. Basically all of a sudden my air conditioning stopped producing cold air (but it still blows air). I don't hear any strange noises or anything else out of the ordinary.
I get regular oil changes where all fluids are topped off and generally I take pretty good care of the car.
I am really worried because I know A/C repairs can be the most expensive repairs a car can have! Can somebody tell me how can I find out what particular problem I might be dealing with? Also I would be grateful for any advice that might save me money if it is a costly repair!
Thank you so much!
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Your right about air conditioning rep[airs often being costly to repair. If the blower motor blows air the controls are receiving power and working the fan blower. You don't hear any horrible noises so most likely that is really good news as well.
When you operate the a/c switch do you hear a clicking sound in the engine compartment each time you turn on the a/c switch. This loud click would be the air conditioning compressor clutch engaging, The system most likely has lost its charge. If the system looses it charge and drops below a certain pressure the a/c system does not allow the compressor to turn on or it would self destruct as the refrigerant has lubricant in it to lubricate the compressor.
The refrigerant is under high pressure and over time some of this pressure gets lost through the hoses and joints in the system. Leaks are often hard to find. They can be behind the dashboard in the heater and evaporator casing or in front of the radiator (the condenser often gets damaged by road debris) or the air conditioning compressor and lines in the engine compartment.
It is cheapest to have the system properly diagnosed now and not wait. If you wait moisture enters the system and more damage occurs.
To test, gauges are put in the system to check pressures, the system may need to be evacuated to repair leaks and refilled with the proper amount of refrigerant and lubricant.
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Times are tough all round and I am afraid things will be bad fro a while. I supose it is best if your friend has air conditioning experience to get him to put gauges on the car and check the pressures and then see what he things. If there is no pressure in the system well then there is a larger problem that requires evacuating the refrigerant and repairing what has caused the leak. If a the refrigerant needs a little recharge use the refrigerant that has dye in it and it may locate a minor leak by leaving dye stain at the source of the leak.
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To isolate where the noise is coming from ( engine or air conditioning) the shop may want to temporarily remove the fan belt (with no belt present the compressor is not being driven) if noise goes away the problem is external to the engine. Air conditioning work requires a lot of equipment to repair or trace leaks correctly. Some shops that specialize in air conditioning repair may be cheapest.
Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your help; I can't tell you how alleviated to know that the problem is likely the least expensive problem out of all the A/C possibilities. I want to take your advice and have the problem fixed ASAP so it doesn't get worse. I just wanted to ask (since I don't know anything about auto repair and could easily be cheated) if the issue if the A/C needs to be recharged, any rough idea how much that's going to cost me? How involved a process is it? The reason I ask is I know a mechanic who does work on the side, but if it's a complicated or risky task I should take it to a shop.
I sincerely appreciate your help, as well as anything else you can tell me. I have a very limited income and need all the help I can get. Thanks again!
I'm sorry, Pat is correct. The most likely problem is a compressor or evap leaking. Neither one is inexspensive. Thank God you live in MD. A/C is a luxury not a nesscessity. In SW Florida you have no choice, you have to fix it. We need a/c almost 365 days a year.
Have someone who truly knows what they are doing hook up gauges and fill it..... Trust me, this is not a DIY area... I have pretty extensive experience as a shade tree mechanic, but AC is a separate and completely different system from the rest of the engine... If you do something wrong trying to top off the freon you can cause more harm than good. They sell gauges and freon at the auto store because people (like me) will buy them and try to save some money by doing it themselves.... and then you end up taking it to a shop anyway to fix the real problem. Do it sooner, not later... AC problems have a way of causing a domino effect of damage throughout the entire AC system. The longer you wait, the more problems that will develop...
throw a grenade(small refill of r134) in the system and if the leak happens again have the leak looked for at your auto shop before projecting disaster my a/c leak was a fill valve core $12.00
where can I get a low pressure fill valve core? Are they hard to replace? Will the system have to be evacuated And recharged?
Any ideals if all works except cold air and gauge shows full of Freon? Thanks for any help in advance! Jerry
Bring engine to normal operating temp. With a/c set on high. Watch the clutch ( this the part that the belt travels around) it should engage for a brief moment then disengage, if this is not happening then there could be a bad fuse or a/c relay. At this point if the fuses and relays check out please leave it to a professional. You have to remember on the high side w/ a full charge there should be about 230 - 240 psi, this can cause severe body trauma.
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