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Honda CR-V AC Compressor Problems



  • io8iheio8ihe Posts: 1
    Just spent a half hour reading through these posts and now scared to death. Bought an 05 in May with 53000 miles. A/C seems to be working great now, but couldn't possibly afford a $3000 dollar repair should something go wrong.

    Any specific maintenance or care that could be done to prevent the problem? Taking my car in for its 60k maintenance soon. Theoretically, using the A/C less frequently would make it less likely it would break, right?
  • :sick: Honda CR-V 2002 door locks stop working, ac blowing hot and brake light stays on ... diagnosis replacement of a multiplex fuse box under front dashboard $600 to repair, of the 600 which included installation of 175. Had gotten door locks and chime fixed a few months ago and it was 200 dollars but of course it was noted that this was different. Dealer did the work
  • I have a 2002 Honda CR-V with 160500 miles and only recently experienced issues. Had the compressor replaced once under warrenty but recently had to have it replaced and the dealer wanted to charge 2100 well got a verygood mechanic and he fixed it with a new compressor 700 dollars. Things happen when it is paid for so just save for a rainy day in case something happens if you do not want a car note. I am trying really hard to avoid the new or slightly used new loan syndrome. Try not to worry unless something does go wrong
  • Honda CR-V 2002 door locks stop working, ac blowing hot and brake light stays on ... diagnosis replacement of a multiplex fuse box under front dashboard $600 to repair, of the 600 which included installation of 175. Had gotten door locks and chime fixed a few months ago and it was 200 dollars but of course it was noted that this was different. Dealer did the work :sick:
  • vinnie_the_kidvinnie_the_kid Posts: 9
    edited August 2010
    Hello there,

    I've gotten such useful information from this forum that I decided to stop being a lurker and finally add some of my thoughts.

    I have an '02 CR-V and the AC system just failed on us. Of course, it was during the recent hot spell and we had one hell of a ride home when the system shut down for good.

    I admire anyone who has the persistence to try and make Honda cough up the bucks to help defray the costs of the fix, especially for such an old vehicle. Since I am cheap (I prefer to view myself as being fiscally conservative), I view a Honda fix as the expensive way to go because one gets a discount for a wildly expensively priced fix which results in more money for Honda.

    While I am no expert, I am dumb enough to rip anything out of my cars to try and fix it myself and thought I'd pass on my results for your consideration. My car's system died at ~77K miles. About two years ago I noticed that the AC was starting to blow warmer on really hot days. I bought a set of Chicom gauges from Harbor Freight and found the pressures to be OK. What I did notice is that the dealer mounted the front license plate (THANK you New Jersey) smack dab in the middle of the air flow to the condenser and radiator. I moved the license plate mount to the far left side of the "bumper" and I immediately noted a substantial drop in the vent temperature, especially at idle. Obviously a bad design by both Honda and the dealers.

    But it was now obvious that the lack of cooling had a long term detrimental effect on the AC system and this year it just died. I have the shop manual and ran the diagnostics and found there are no error codes but that the electric clutch for the AC compressor was shot. Honda wants $800 for a new compressor but I order a brand new Chicom unit for $199 from Amazom. Perfect fit.

    I also bought two new hardlines from Majestic Honda in Providence Rhode Island (best dealer prices that I could find). They were almost 40% less than my local Honda dealer. While I had the system apart, I tried to shoot compressed air through the condenser to see if it was blocked...and it was. Note that this is the first time that I ever worked on an AC system and used the shop manual and Internet as a guide to what I should do.

    I just laughed when Honda told me their price for a condenser and bought a brand new Chicom unit of the 'net for about half the price. It came with a new drier unit installed and just needed ~ 2 ounces of PAG oil to get it ready for installation. Note that if you have a Japan-manufactured car, you can buy a knock off condenser. If your VIN doe NOT beginwith "J", then your car was made in Great Britain and you are then screwed because that is a different design and the replacement condenser can only be ordered from the factory. Understand that this work took me almost two weeks of my time just to figure out everthing that was wrong with my car..

    I assembled the AC system in the reverse order of disassembly and it continued to take me a long time. Reasons include the plastic pop out pins that hold the front fascia together were mostly breaking like crazy so I used a lot of wire ties hidden wherever possible as a substitute. But it's much more robust now. The bottom pins were so bad that I retained the lower fascia much more solidly by using three self tapping screws and fender washers to distribute the load. The front frame member runs right above the lower part of the front bumper so its easy to grab good metal for self tapping screws.

    The final fix was to add a 10" pusher fan to the front of the condenser so that it will always have very good airflow. That turns out to be overengineered (which I do all the time) and I could have easily stepped down to an 8" fan and saved a few bucks. More is better in this case but the 10" fan sounds like an F16 spooling up for take off. I'll refine that in the early fall.

    I bought a Chicom AC vacuum pump from Harbor Freight and pumped the system for 90 minutes. It held a vacuum and had to be as dry as a bone. I added one 12 oz. can of R134a and the compressor electric clutch came on at just about a half can, which is a very good sign. One can provides about 320 grams of R134a and the shop manual (this is from memory) gives a system capacity range of about 340-520 grams so I'm at the bottom end. I prefer that but wil bring it up to specs when I'm totally confident it all works as designed; no need to over pressure at any point. I clearly understand that the most important criterion is pressure, not weight of coolant.

    My bottom line cost is ~$600 (without the cost of the vacuum pump) plus a LOT of my time. The diagnosis appears to be that the condenser failed over time (perhaps due to inadequate cooling) and then took the compressor with it. It was a BEAR to get to the compressor and I'm sure the Honda dealer knows all the shortcuts; I did the brute force approach to just remove everything that got in the way. I have a lift and that was of no added value for this job; it's just tough all around. So far, so good >knock on wood<.

    If anyone wants my help to do this themselves, I live in the Trenton New Jersey area and just send me mail at and we can chat. I LOVE to see THE MAN lose money wherver possible.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread before I started my project.

    Oh, BTW, there are class action suits against a number of manufacturers for AC system failures so this is NOT unique to Honda nor to CR-Vs. I forgot to mention that I also cut holes in the underbody cladding to ensure the air is caught and forced right onto the AC compressor which is located on the bottom of the engine, left front as you look at the car from the front. For those purists who say that this will cause the serpentine belt to slip if water gets up there, I humbly suggest that they refer to a 40 year old practice of having all sorts of belts, including serps, being located directly in the line of the air flow under the car with absolutely no impact on performance/longevity.

    I hope this LONG response helps.

    I think I still have a picture of the torn down front end if anyone wants a good laugh.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Absolutely GREAT post! Thanks much for sharing.

    Were the air holes to allow cooling air on the compressor? I didn't know that was advantageous. Cool.

    I also didn't know that as the condenser becomes plugged (altho not sure what plugged it on the inside, i presume compressor debris when it imploded) it puts more strain on the compressor, but makes sense. So bugs and bent fins and obstructions, all would add to less efficiency from the condenser, thereby putting more strain on compressor.

    Way to go to get to the bottom of it and solve the fix yourself. :thumbup:
  • I have a 2003 crv that has 214K on it. in 2005 the ac went out and luckily I had the extended warranty so it was all paid for minus the $100 ded. in 2007 the ac went out again this time out of my pocket, $900 and now again in 2010 costing me another $2300 (10% dealer discount). I called Honda directly because the dealership told me Honda America would not do anything since there were so many miles on the vehicle. Honda America told me they would do nothing since again there are high miles on the car. I use this car for work, most are highway miles and they are trying to tell me the mileage is part of the problem. I countered that my daughter has a 2003 civic with 175K that has no AC problems and that they obviously recognize they have an issue with the AC based on the Service Bulliten put out in December. I have to say I am deeply disappointed with Honda at this point. This is my 3rd Honda and was planning on buying another. Any suggestions???
  • alana50alana50 Posts: 12
    The issue on this thread is not a part breaking on a car that is almost 10 years old, but about the same problem happening repeatedly.
    Any eight or nine year old car is going to have problems, yes?
  • This is probably one on the most helpful threads on the Honda CRV-A/C problems. Thank you! I kept "lurking" for some insight before I made a decision on my '02 Honda CRV, but for awhile I think it was not a very productive thread and had a negative vibe. Because I do agree that even though some people may consider A/C/ a "luxury", I think I learned by my first year in Arizona that no matter how tough I thought I was I could not survive months of 100+ degree weather, so alas 20 years later I will not risk my or my family's health without air. I knew in the back of my mind that this would not be an easy or cheap fix. Your post confirmed that. We had a friend who is a mechanic offer to install the new A/C system, but I had the feeling it would be a difficult and time consuming job and I would feel guilty if I asked him to do it. Our A/C failed twice, I just don't think I could handle a third, so this last weekend we went and shopped for an affordable vehicle. With payments under $200.00, a warranty (extended), and piece of mind to last at least 7 more years, well that is what worked for us. Might not work for anyone else. And I'm laughing while I type this because prior to our '02 Honda CRV we always traded in and bought a new vehicle after warranties expired, I thought this was the "keeper". One more laugh, my sister just bought a used '01 Honda CRV, I'm praying that '01 was a better year.
  • vinnie_the_kidvinnie_the_kid Posts: 9
    edited August 2010
    Thanks for your kind comments!

    The hole that I cut out for direct air access to the compressor is located on the black bottom fascia that gets in your way each time you change your oil.

    If you are standing at the front of the car and facing it, the compressor is located on the left hand side, at the very bottom of the engine. Once you crawl underneath the car, you will see that the fascia steps down a few inches, going front to back. I cut the black plastic right in front of the compressor with a utility knife; the plastic is soft and almost too easy to cut so be careful. You're not near any hoses or electrical wires. I'll see if I can get you some pictures. I think that if cut anywhere near the AC compressor, you'll get enough airflow to make a big difference in compressor temp.

    Good question about the the crud that blocked the condenser. My mechanic said that he's only ever had one Honda have a bad evaporater. Here's what I know. There were no metal parts in the lines so the compressor didn't detonate (which DOES happen). The PAG oil was slightly yellow; it can turn black on really bad cases.

    Since I realized the condenser was clogged, I figured what the heck, I hit it with 160psi right from the compressor. Absolutley nothing happened which suggests to me that the occlusion is solid, not some schmutz that broke free somewhere and lodged in the condenser. My story and I'm sticking to it is that the condenser started to corrode on the inside, possibly accelerated by lack of adequate air flow and once that got bad enough, it caused the compressor to fail.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,601
    Very interesting post. I hope you stick around.

    Being in the tool business for almost 20 years, Chicom was a brand I had never heard of so I "googled" it and found nothing?

    Coming through Amazon at that price I'm guessing it is Chinese made and maybe a "universal" unit that fits other cars too?

    Same brand name for the vacuum pump and coming from Harbor Freight at that price it has to be Chinese made.

    For a piece of equipment that will be seldom used, the Chinese stuff can get the job done.

    I disagree with you about the cooling part. a lot of cars have front licence plates that partically block air flow to the condensors and I just don't see heat being a contributing factor but I guess I could be wrong.

    The delaerships fear comebacks and unhappy customers so thier approach is to not take any chances of contamination so they just replace EVERYTHING.

    Yes, a failed A/C compressor ***can*** shoot off metal particles that ***can*** cause problems if not caught and it isn't really possible to flush everything out.

    Dealerships just don't want to take the chance.

    You took on a tough job and it sounds like your results paid off.

    Your offer to help others was a great gesture on your part.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,601
    I just don't agree with your "air flow" diagnosis. I don't think there would be that much of a temperature difference and I think Honda's engineers would know how to do things best.

    But, again, I suppose I could be wrong?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,601
    I'm still having trouble understaning how anyone can be SO MAD at Honda because their eight year old 88,000 mile A/C compressor needed to be replaced?

    If you use your defrost in the winter you are "using" your A/C compressor too.

    Again, not a "defect" after all of those years and miles. Just one of those things that happens.

    If your next vehicle won't be a Honda I hope you can find another make that never breaks!
  • old_redold_red Posts: 6
    edited August 2010
    Thanks to everyone posting their experiences to the board. I'll add my 2¢ worth since it will help build a database of information for this problem.
    My 2003 CR-V (105,000 miles) air conditioning failed last week during a 100-degree heatwave in Virginia. I haven't had it to a shop yet, but based on the symptoms and descriptions here, I assume the compressor imploded.
    I have spoken to service departments at five area Honda dealers, and I have gotten five fixes with a range of prices:
    Dealer 1&#150;usually replaces only the compressor and the filter in the receiver/dryer because "the filter catches all the contaminants". Estimate of $1,500.
    Dealer 2&#150;replaces the entire system because all components are contaminated. Estimate of $3,700.
    Dealer 3&#150;replaces everything but the evaporator in the passenger side. Estimate of $2,500.
    Dealer 4&#150;replaces everything including the evaporator, but not the hoses. Estimate $2,200.
    Dealer 5&#150;replaces the entire system. Estimate of $3800.
    All of these dealers acknowledge this is a common repair, yet they don't agree on the proper repair, despite Honda's own Service Bulletin guidelines. And the two that replace the entire system seem to be significantly overcharging for the repair. The MSRP from Honda for all of the parts in the A/C system including Service Kit C, Clutch Set and Coil Set is about $2,000. Shopping online, I found I can purchase those same components from a Honda dealer for about $1400. That means that in addition to charging a sizeable markup on the parts, they are charging $1,700-1,800 for labor and refrigerant. The Service Bulletin calls for 5.8 hours repair time. One shop told me it's actually a 10-hour job, while another shop said the repair can be done in one day.
    I have called and written to American Honda, and have been told that they cannot defray any costs because of the vehicle mileage. Yet I have seen posts here where they have offered assistance to owners with vehicles as high as 116,000 miles.
    There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this problem other than Honda has a defect issue with the CR-V A/C system, refuses to publicly acknowledge it and is screwing its long-time customers and long-term reputation.
    I really don't know what to do next.
  • vinnie_the_kidvinnie_the_kid Posts: 9
    edited August 2010
    Thanks. Your experience in the tool business makes your compliment even more important to me. And believe me, I'm the kind of guy who can be VERY frank.

    A couple of points. Sorry for the confusion on the tool name but you figured it out...Chinese Communist. Sorry!

    As far as the paranoia about air flow through the front, I take my experience from 65-67 Chevy Corvettes with the big block (BB) engines, 396 or 427 cubic inch. When the first Vette BB-engined cars came off the line Chevy got a LOT of complaints about the cars overheating even though they beefed up the radiators. The factory applied a number of fixes and one of them was a new front license plate holder that moved the plate out from the front center (even though it was in low in the air stream) to 'way over on the driver's side. That and extra foam insulation to make sure all of the air pulled in from the fan went through the radiator and the attached shroud solved the BB overheating problems for that model run.

    Unfortunately, the General launced a new body for '68 and kep the same frame/drive train which caused the problem to reapper again. They solved those problems during the first year but I've learned the hard way that you need to get ALL of the air ALL of the time over ALL of the coolers to ensure that you have no problems with overheating.

    As I noted earlier, I did a belt-and-suspenders fix by adding that 10" pusher fan and with that puppy on, in 90* weather, I can comfortable put my hand on the condenser wheras the it was a bit too hot with just the factory setup. I'm sure it will be fine without the pusher because the engineers factored all of this in their original design. They just didn't count on the effect of the ravages of time.

    I hope this helps.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,601
    edited August 2010
    I just hope that Chinese compressor holds up.

    I think much of the reason for all of the unhappiness is the COST of fixing it.

    I know I'm a dinosaur but back when I ran a shop, we actually fixed things. We overhauled compressors and freon didn't cost an arm and a leg like it does today.

    We actually fixed some things for free if you can believe that and we would try to save our customers money if it was an older car or money was tight.

    In the example someone stated above, one dealer wanted 1500.00 to fix it and seemed to have no fears that anything more would be necessary.

    The other places wanted to replace the entire system just "in case".

    The trouble is, some people are quick to blame problems on the shop that tried to save them money. They do the 1500.00 repair and sure enough, a loose piece of metal wrecks something and back comes an unhappy customer demanding the shop fix it for free. And they do. From that point forward, having learned an expensive and bitter lesson, they take a hard stance and refuse to do the job unless they fix everything!

    Shop labor is 100.00 per hour and more and genuine replacement parts are very expensive. I was in California last month and one of the xenon headlights in my buddy's Mercedes burnt out. we pulled into the Mercedes dealer and waited two hours and he paid 320.00 parts and labor! for a lousy headlight!

    Labor was 160.00/hr!

    I don't blame people for being unhappy but things do break given enough time and miles.

    And, I remember those Corvettes. Especially if they had A/C they would overheat in traffic situations.
  • tapone1tapone1 Posts: 8
    edited August 2010
    While I did/will be getting assistance, I am the guy with the 116K mile CRV, I still question the amount of the assistance: Are they doing a complete a/c replace worth $3K, or a less fix that in the end, only cuts me a deal on the parts? Not sure as I was just given a "cap" for my out of pocket, which I was satisified with (otherwise I would be driving a new car today). In any event, we have bought nothing but honda's since 1996 with the most recent being a 2008 Pilot. We also had issues with our 2000 Ody, so alot may have to do with the customer and past buying history...I realize it shouldn't be that way, but suspect it does have something to do with it. Parts are in on Wednesday and its going in Thursday.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,788
    "Really? On my '02, it turned off the light and the compressor.... Did you close your eyes and click your heels together, three times?"

    Are you manually turning off the compressor?

    Take a look at the post following the instructions you linked:

    "One thing I might add.. after disabling the function, the A/C will still come on, each time you turn it to the defrost setting.. The difference will be: you can turn the A/C off by pushing the A/C button. Something you couldn't do before. "
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,788
    "One more laugh, my sister just bought a used '01 Honda CRV, I'm praying that '01 was a better year. "

    Some of the late year 2001 models picked up the problem. My father in law had his compressor go out about 3 years ago - he has a 2001.
  • old_redold_red Posts: 6
    edited August 2010
    Thanks for the follow-up. I can't say I've only bought Hondas, but my other primary vehicle is a 1997 Civic bought new in 1996. It has 275,000 miles and I just replaced the compressor (not the whole system) this summer. The only other costs have been routine maintenance. Before the Civic, I had a 1985 Prelude with 215,000 miles when I sold it, and the A/C still worked on that one too.
    The problem with the CR-V A/C is that it has a history of failing prematurely, relative not only to other Honda vehicles, but to other brands as well. And that is what is so maddening about this repair expense.
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