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2010 Forester AC Sporadically Stops Working

Hello all,

I am hoping one of you nice people could help me or at least let me know if they are experiencing the same thing.

I purchased my 2010 Forester 2.5 Premium in Dec 2009. Two weeks after my purchase, I was on the CA-10 freeway when I decided to open the vents to let some air in while driving on the freeway. All of a sudden, there was no air blowing from the center/side vents. So, I turned on the AC, put it on 1,2,3,4 -- no air! I could hear a loud blow coming from the glove compartment as if air was blowing from in there, but when I opened it, there was none.

No air blowing for a few hours during my travel. I finally arrived at my destination and still no air. So, I did my business (snowboarded for a few hours) then came back to the car approximately 5 hours after.

I turned on the AC, and whhhaallaaa! It decided to fix itself while parked in the lot! Even the air vents were working.

I still took it to the dealership to be checked and soon after I was told that they found a piece of foam inside the vents, left there during manufacturing.

I thought the issue was resolved until yesterday when I was again on the freeway on my way up the mountain. I kept switching between modes (air vent, foot, etc) until finally no air was blowing once again. I could hear the loud noise coming from the glove compartment once again, but no air was coming from in there.

Once again, the AC decided to fix itself by the time I got home. So, when I took it to the dealer earlier this morning, I couldn't recreate the problem to show them.

Also, I could hear some crackling inside the center vents.

Is anyone else experiencing this or have any suggestions to help me and the dealer resolve the issue? Car is barely two months old and I am really bummed. =(

Any kind of help would be strongly appreciated!

Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,507
    I have not had this problem with mine, but I rarely change the mode (vent, floor, defrost). It sounds to me like the actuator is getting hung up (confused?) between modes and is essentially blocking air flow rather than diverting it from one mode to the other. It makes sense that this would resolve when the car restarts, but that does not help the times when it stops air flow while you are driving. To recreate, you might suggest that the dealership try switching modes repeatedly. It may not do it after one or two attempts, but it seems to be happening frequently enough to you that it has a good chance of occurring within a dozen tries.
  • Thanks for the response!

    I will try to suggest that to the dealer. In fact I just gave my service coordinator a call and left a message. I was thinking the switch might be the culprit too -- or at least I hope so. I am hoping it's not anything bigger than that.

    If anything, it should be warrantied, right?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,507
    Absolutely. The trick at this point is getting it to replicate for the dealer's service technician. And, that can be quite a trick for these intermittent problems. The most important thing is to be very conscientious of what happened just prior to the problem manifesting, so that you can have a better chance of replicating it.
  • Thanks for the advice. Keeping my fingers crossed that they find something. It's such a pain to have a brand new car with a "temperamental" AC unit -- especially when I'm out on short day trips up the mountains!

    Would the CA Lemon Law apply to AC units or is it only for major parts that could seriously harm/cause death?
  • Well folks, Forester is back to the dealer today. Since my last post, Renick Fullerton gave me back the car and said, "we could not replicate the problem, therefore, here's your car back."

    This past weekend, I took another trip and the A/C went out more than a few times. This time, I took a video and hoped that it would help.

    To my dismay, the technician at Renick Fullerton was a jackass and was less than interested in discussing the problem with me. He had a rebuttal for every word I had to say (literally!) and his mind was focused on one thing: what I'm saying is not making sense, therefore, he's not gonna try and fix it.

    When told that the problem usually doesn't happen until after an hour or so, all he could say was: "well we can't drive your car for an hour."

    I was really disappointed, luckily the service adviser sensed my irritation with the jackass technician and volunteered to drive the car around until the problem manifests itself.

    Overall, I am unhappy with my experience with Renick Subaru and I am unhappy that I have a two-month old Forester with a temperamental AC that would stop working randomly and would spit ice once in a while. If I could do things over, I don't know that I would buy another Forester.

    I guess all I'm doing is venting at this point and hoping that somehow, someone out there has ideas as to what is going on and/or has had the same experience.

    It's a safety issue now, because Friday night, I was on my way up Big Bear when my windshield started fogging up and it was foggy outside as well and my defroster would blow no air.

    Lastly, can anyone tell me if the Lemon Law applies to my case? I wouldn't mind slapping a lawsuit against these fools.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,507
    Lemon Law likely could, though it usually requires a three-strikes scenario, meaning you will have to tolerate Renick a little longer....
  • Will it only work if I go to the same dealer each time? This will be the third try today. If they don't fix it, then does the law apply?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,507
    I don't know - you will need to look into your state's specific law, but it should be fairly easy to find with an online search.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited March 2010
    It sounds as if the A/C cooling evaporator is freezing up and blocking all system airflow. Can you hear the blower motor running but no airflow..??

    There should be a thermistor mounted near the outlet airflow side of the evaporator and if the airflow temperature is below ~35F the A/C compressor should be cycled off. Also, the A/C compressor should not run at all if the outside temperature is below about 35F.

    The bad news is that this type of failure cannot be reliably replicated since climatic conditions, primarily relative humidity and dewpoint, are part of the cause.

    "..on my way UP Big Bear..."

    That would be one of the more common climatic conditions, driving from a warmer and relatively humid climate into a COLD and DRY (low humidity) climate.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..So, I turned on the AC,..."

    Maybe not.

    If you happened to have already had the system in any one of the windshield defrost/defog/demist modes, even just footwell and windshield combined, the A/C was already operating but not necessarily with the indicator on. Additionally some of the newer more modern climate control designs will automatically start the A/C in certain climatic conditions to help prevent cabin humdity buildup and the subsequent windshield fogging.

    I have no question at this point as to what was happened, your evaporator was icing, freezing up, due to the A/C continuing to operate and chill the evaporator surfaces below freezing.

    What I don't understand is why the dealer wouldn't recognize the problem given the systems you related here.

    Most likely you have a shorted or faulty OAT sensor or evaporator outflow temperature sensor.
  • ohmikeyohohmikeyoh Posts: 2
    Hey there!

    I bought a 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium in Feb and have had problems with the A/C ever since.
    Basically what mine is doing is that it runs just fine and will blow cold air for about a 45 second interval and then the air temperature warms ever so slightly and the humidity increases for about 30 seconds... then it cycles back to cold. This happens over and over and over in cycles, slowly getting colder and less humid and then warmer and more humid.

    I've taken it to the dealer 3 times... they've even kept it for 3 days... I've gotten Subaru of America involved and the dealer says "they can't find anything wrong." They acknowledge that it's doing that... but say this is normal. However, I have friends who have the same car and not the same problem. I even test drove another JUST LIKE mine the day I picked it up after they had it for 3 days and it didn't do it.
    They're solution is to press the recirculate button. But that only slightly changes the cycle as it's not pulling in the humid air from outside but rather the slightly less humid (and decreasingly so) air from inside.

    Anyway, the point of me tagging this onto this thread is to wonder if the "thermistor mounted near the outlet airflow side of the evaporator" mentioned two posts above this one might have something to do with it?
    I've had a mechanic look at it (without undoing anything) and he thinks it's the clutch... but since it's brand new, I'm not having anyone but a Subaru authorized servicer touch it. Granted, there's only 1 in an hour of me.

    Any clues?
    I've already posted on the SubaruForester forums with no luck (just all the owners saying this is NOT normal).

    Thanks!
  • Hello ohmikeyoh. Has this problem been resolved for you? I'm curious because I've test drove one 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5 X about 3 weeks ago with the exact same problem. The dealer said he didn't know if it was normal saying "I don't think that's normal." Obviously it isn't but a solution to this problem is something I'm still trying to look for.
  • fnamowiczfnamowicz Posts: 191
    In my experiience most dealers will sub out AC repairs to a specialty shop and won't bother with this type of work since they are only parts changers and do not have any repair experience..
  • Imaginary, yes, unfortunately. And you know what... I was having MORE problems. Every time I'd start the car cold (not having been run in over 3 or 4 hours), when the AC unit kicked on it would make a HORRIBLE grinding noise. My partner is a mechanic and said this was not normal and would eventually ruin the compressor. I took it to the dealer, they kept it for 4 days (FOUR DAYS) only to tell me nothing was wrong and that was usual operation.
    I'm sorry but you don't have to keep something 4 days to say, "Oh yeah... that's normal operation!"

    So, yes, I'm still having this issue. Should be interesting to see what winter brings!

    I love my Forester... but I honestly think that they may be having some issues with their AC units. I've test driven over 10 of these and NONE of the others did this. None. But I know that sometimes things happen on the assembly lines and random parts might be substandard from a supplier...

    fnamowicz... I wish they would send it out to someone because it needs to be fixed. Luckily I got the Subaru extended warranty, so I just hope it breaks within that and doesn't take anything else with it when it goes!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,507
    I wouldn't wait that long. If it makes the noise every time you run it, there is no reason why they shouldn't fix it. If that dealer is not helpful, I would elevate it to Subaru directly and recount your experience at the dealer. If you have a different dealer within reasonable distance, you could take it there, too.
  • mxyz1022mxyz1022 Posts: 1
    My Forester now has 129k and over the last year the ac has stopped working as it once did which was pretty good. I noticed last season that it was not staying on. Now this year I have a problem with it working intermittently. Sometimes it cools for a few minutes and sometimes it cools for a half hour. Eventually it always stops working. I shut it off and leave it off for a while but continue driving and then it starts working again for a brief time. Any ideas on what is happening?
  • modeltguymodeltguy Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Outback 3.0 and two years ago my air conditioning stopped working. I had it checked twice and a dye test was done as well.

    It works sometimes and doesn't at other time. My wife can tell as soon as it has stopped working because she can smell a difference in our car.

    I have discovered that if I shut the car off and restart it while going down the road (not a great thing to do on the highway) but it almost always starts working immediately again. Air however always continues to pass through the vents and isn't blocked like the Forester problems described in this post. Any ideas?
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... problem with it working intermittently. Sometimes it cools for a few minutes and sometimes it cools for a half hour. Eventually it always stops working. I shut it off and leave it off for a while but continue driving and then it starts working again for a brief time. Any ideas on what is happening?"

    It could be low on refrigerant. When the compressor loses suction on refrigerant, it has nothing to compress so cooling stops. The refrigerant also contains lubricant, so whenever you feel loss of cooling, the compressor is also being damaged.
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