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  1. #1

    Default Silverado A/C repair estimate, you thoughts, is this a DIY?

    The A/C on my 2001 Silverado 1500 has not worked for a year, and I decided to get it diagnosed before determining what to do. The shop I use for repairs said it needs a new compressor and drier. Labor is 4.5 hours, and with parts, it comes to $750.

    I am planning to get another estimate, but wanted to find out if you think this is a fair price, and if you think this is a DIY job. I've never touched A/C before, and don't know if there are special tools, or if one really needs a high skill level to tackle the job. I see that there are A/C kits (comp/drier) for my truck on ebay for $220, +/-. I assume these are imports, so have to factor that into the equation.

    What do you all think?

    thanks,
    Jim
    Las Vegas, NV...2001 Silverado 1500 LT Z71 Stepside X-cab, 171,000 miles, 5.3, cat-back duals, leveling kit, 3.73, 17" rims, more to come...

  2. #2
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
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    Default

    Well, at $90 an hour, and $350 for parts, that's not really unreasonable. There are a couple of things to watch however.

    First of all, be sure you understand the quality of the compressor you're getting. New OEM compressors work best and that's the ideal way to go. Rebuilt compressors, half the price, twice the problems. There are some crap aftermarket "compatible" compressors that, though new, are to be avoided. A shop I usually trust put one in my K2500 once (and yes I was pressuring them to keep the cost down so it's partially my fault) and the clutch bearing went out two years later -- ordinarily no big deal but on the cheap aftermarket crap they put in the OEM bearing didn't fit (way bigger and heavier, funny how that works), matching replacement not available anywhere, and I had to replace the compressor again.

    So, parts quality. Understand what you're getting. You can check prices on Rockauto, they have a range of brands and quality levels.

    Second thing is that when an A/C has been out for a while you may need additional parts. Your shop is right to replace the accumulator/dryer. Beyond that there's more stuff that has a way of developing leaks and accumulating contamination that can wreck a good compressor. In general you want to replace the hoses to the compressor as a good service practice in the r-134a era (in the old days the R-12 was less prone to leaks). If your old compressor failed catastrophically (instead of just leaking) then you should replace the condenser. Even if it didn't fail hard the condenser may have leaks so you may not be able to save it.

    Technically under federal law you're not supposed to service automotive A/C without an approved refrigerant management machine, which start at around $3,000. There are people who do it with just a vacuum pump and gauge set but you're still looking at $500.
    Minneapolis area - 1997 K2500 regular cab long bed + 8.5' Western Unimount plow + modified transmission + 2nd battery + modified camper charge circuit + 1971 Cayo camper -and- 2004 4x4 Suburban 2500 8.1 + Maxbrake controller + 2nd battery + modified trailer charge circuit + Reese receiver, pulls 30' Airstream trailer

  3. #3
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    I used to do ac on transportation vehicles . this requires a gauge set ,vacuum pump, with the proper fittings to connect . since you are not with the knowledge of this I do not recommend you do it. I replaced my 1996 impala compressor 2 years ago. the compressor seized because the compressor seals leaked all the refrigerant oil out.

    so when a compressor is replaced the filter dryer and the orifice tube is thrown away and replaced. then before installing these parts and the compressor you must flush and blow out all the lines.this includes the ac condenser/evaporator. then the seals O rings will need be replaced at the compressor and at all the lines that were disturbed. with a 2001 this is PAG 150 oil. the compressors can use other type vis oils but this vehicle had 150 so do not change it. you add this 8 OZ to the compressor condenser and the filter dryer pour it in...a few OZ in each then when the compressor is installed you rotate the shaft to mix it into the cylinders... this all hooked up you then vacuum the system down adapters on hi and low side ...shut off vacuum pump and see it it holds if so then you should have no leaks.

    as you can see this is a process that is requiring knowledge of how to properly do all this work . The compressor used if ac delco can cost a lot. I got a advance auto compressor for a couple of hundred. then the O rings ,filter dryer,refrigerant, and orfice tube pag 150 oil etc about 300 usd total to do the job.

    your cost of about 700 is a good deal. one thing that I also suggest is replace the high side valve ....this is a big problem when the get this old they leak when your putting the gauges and vacuum pump on it.. not a big leak but this will cause the refrigerant to leak out slowly.

    the compressor will have NO warranty unless the filter dryer and orifice tube is replaced . also the system must be flushed with a special cleaner then blown out .. good luck..

  4. #4

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    Well, you have both been really helpful, and both your answers indicate it is a bigger job than my skill set would fit. So....I'll get it done at the shop. Thanks, guys.

    Jim

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckmeister2 View Post
    Well, you have both been really helpful, and both your answers indicate it is a bigger job than my skill set would fit. So....I'll get it done at the shop. Thanks, guys.

    Jim
    since your in Vegas I would get this done before the heat hits.. try to get some warranty protection with the repair ...no room for error in your heat zone...

  6. #6

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    j, you will find this a bit nutty...I went through all of last year with no a/c in the truck, driving everyday. I think when it hit 116, I was on the I-5, in traffic, realizing that any sacrifice would have to be made to get the a/c going for this year. But, at least I know how my grandparents felt when they went from OK to Bakersfield in the summer of 1935 or 36...

  7. #7
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    before ac you had that vent window. also much less traffic. today the traffic , then the heat your gonna die...with no ac...

    I have been to AZ when it was 120 in the shade ..ac had a hard time to keep you comfortable when in traffic.. so every thing must be set up exactly correct or you will not get the cooling for those temps..

  8. #8
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
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    Prior to the air conditioning era people timed their trips to avoid the hottest parts of the day. A slower lifestyle with different expectations

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