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Subaru Forester Air Conditioning Problems

My 04 Forester XT engine making squealing/rattling noises which sometimes diminished when I accelerated. My boyfriend said it sounded like a bearing. Mechanic diagnosed it as a bad air compressor and said I need the compressor, clutch assembly and freon all replaced, for a total cost of about $945. The car is only 4 years old with 62,000 miles. Does this sound right?


  • rochcomrochcom Posts: 247
    Sorry, I accidentally posted this in the wrong forum previously.

    I am having a problem with a '98 Forester A/C compressor. The compressor clutch runs fine in moderate weather for a period of time, then cuts out. To get it to come on again, the system needs to be turned off for a period of time and then re-started. After a total of about 20 minutes or so of running, or if it is particularly hot and sunny it can happen much sooner, the system will shut off again and NOT restart. The outlet temperature is normal (40) when running, but quickly climbs to 73+ when it shuts down.

    The dealer tried to solve the problem by recharging and doing a leak check. The recharge did not help and there is no evidence of a leak. After next observing the compressor clutch cutting out, the dealer said that the problem is the clutch and it cannot be repaired. Their solution is to replace the entire compressor assembly. This is expensive. At this point, the dealership staff does not seem to know what they are doing.

    Does anyone have any alternatives to check for? Could it be an electrical fault or pressure switch problem? If it is mechanical, can the clutch mechanism be repaired?
  • rsttoolersttoole Posts: 4
    I have the same problem on my 97 Outback. ANy ideas?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,147
    Is it possible that the compressor is overheating? Maybe too much friction in the bearings for the pulley? This is just a shot in the dark, really. How long does it take for the system to "reset?"
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rochcomrochcom Posts: 247
    Thanks for your reply.

    It can vary greatly. It does seem to take longer in direct sunlight so that overheating is a possibility. But then, what is the solution?

    I have found that it will cut in and out by itself and under some conditions, leaving the system in partial or full recirculate mode will allow the interior to stay cool. But in strong sunlight, this is not adequate.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,147
    Well, again, hard to say, but if it is a friction problem then perhaps spraying the bearings with lithium grease will help. The compressor pulley is clutch activated, so try not to get any grease on the pressure surface or the plates may slip.

    Again, just a shot in the dark. If the system is not low on refrigerant and the compressor works (when it works!), there must be something telling it to disengage so often. I am not sure what the triggers are, but often they have fail safe systems (shutting down if overheating would be considered a fail safe).
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Check to make sure that there is water draining below the car during operation. If it isn't dumping a significant puddle at idle, then chances are the condensor is freezing over and that will cause it to spew warm air.

    Tinted windows help a lot.

    My 05 LGT Wagon has been excellent during the past week of high 80s low 90s here in NYC with very high humidity.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    from the symotoms seems possible. 62k is a little low but it's possible.

  • I'm changing my ac compressor and it calls for a 200 oil, the auto parts shop have 100 or 150, what is the difference and is the 200 necessary?
  • dahs10dahs10 Posts: 6
    My 98 Forester overheats when I am travelling and have the air conditioning on. It doesn't overheat when I'm travelling around town only when I am travelling on the highway for at least 30 minutes. This past time I was 60 miles from home. I had travelled approximately 30 minutes. I slowed down in traffic and the heat gauge shot up but not in the red area. I quickly shut the a/c off and turned on the heat which cooled everything down so I could make it home.
    This happened last year and I replaced the thermostat. Anyone have any idea what could cause this? Thank you,
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788

    Not sure if this addresses the problem at hand...

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    When my Miata started acting up, I changed the water pump first, then the T-stat. The latter is what fixed it, though.

    Running the heat simply helps dissipate heat from the engine bay, but it's only a short-term fix to get you home.
  • Did you ever figure out what was wrong? I'm having this exact same issue now with my '04 Forester. Was it the thermostat by any chance?

    Thanks -
  • I have an 04 forester with over 100k miles. All was fine until about 3 weeks ago. The air conditioner comes on and runs cold for awhile then the air stops running cold but the blower is still on. If I leave it as is and keep driving, it eventually turns cold again for a little while. If I shut off the car and wait 1 minute the air comes back on cold and eventually stops. I am not very knowledgable about cars. When the car is running but not moving, I can here the "click" of the air conditioner coming on. If I stop moving but keep the car running with the air conditioner still on, I don't hear it "clicking" and it doesn't get cold again. If anyone can suggest something I would appreciate it.
  • That is EXACTLY what is happening with mine, same age, same mileage. It works a little better when it's somewhat less hot, and at highway speeds, but still not reliable. In town, it doesn't last long at all - runs briefly and then stops cooling. My mechanic checked for a plugged drain (wasn't one), drained and recharged the a/c - made no difference. He's taking it back in next week and will check out the thermostat and see if he can figure it out otherwise. Sounds like a number of people have had this issue and it would sure be nice if someone had solved the puzzle...
  • Please keep me posted if you could when you take it back to your mechanic. Thanks.
  • vorsvors Posts: 1
    Has anyone found a solution to this yet? My 2004 Forester is doing the same thing and my mechanic has not been able to figure it out.
  • I finally took my car to the Subaru dealership. It was the head cylinder gasket. I also had leakage from the right inner axel boot and right power steering rack. So all these items are being fixed to the tune of $3200.00. The mechanic said that the head gasket is a common problem for Subarus over 100,000 miles. I have 188,000 miles on my subaru. He also stated that once all this work is done that I should get another 60,000 miles out of the vehicle. I sure hope so.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    188k is a lot of miles, hopefully it'll last longer once fixed.
  • "... Running the heat simply helps dissipate heat from the engine bay..."

    The heater helps dissipate heat from the engine. The same coolant that flows through the radiator core also flows through the heater core. The radiator rejects engine heat into the engine bay, and the heater rejects engine heat into the cabin.

    When the radiator alone is not enough to cool the engine for whatever reason, admitting coolant to the heater adds more core area to help dissipate the heat.
  • mancpa22mancpa22 Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 Impreza with the same AC issues- has any one determined what it is?
  • dahs10dahs10 Posts: 6
    The problem with my Subaru Forester AC was the head gasket. I had that replaced for $2500.00 and now it works great. No more overheating.
  • quark613quark613 Posts: 5
    See my post # 16 above. Had to cancel my appointment late last summer to have my a/c checked out by my mechanic because my daughter had a baby early and I went to help her; by the time I got back we figured we might as well wait till the next cooling season to deal with it. Finally brought it in. Took some sleuthing to find this: "a/c clutch develops an open circuit and disengages." Replaced a/c clutch and I've got nice cold air blowing as long as I need it to. Yay! Total cost was $410 plus tax.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear both of you found a fix. :shades:
  • Hi - have a 2009 Suby Forester with 47000 miles (mostly highway) and the air conditioner which isn't used all that much has stopped blowing cold air. I took it to my local dealer who informs me that the compressor doesn't work, the clutch doesn't function properly, etc. $1400++ to repair!! I live in No. California so AC doesn't get used constantly, but it gets at least weekly use in summer/early fall (85+ and the dogs start panting...)
    Naturally the car is just out of warranty, but no way should this be happening after only 47000 miles?!! Any advice on what if any recourse I might have with Subaru? Thanks for any suggestions.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That is very, very unusual.

    I have heard that you should use the A/C once in a while to keep the seals lubricated. There's an additive in there that cycles around the system.

    $1400? Yikes!

    Call 800-SUBARU3 and tell them how new your car is. Be super-nice - you get more flies with honey. I used to work in a Help Desk so trust me on that one.

    Hopefully they will cover at least a portion of that cost.
  • I don't believe it for a minute. There's no way the compressor AND the compressor clutch are shot, and that figure is absurd. Take it to a reliable, independent mechanic.
  • baires60baires60 Posts: 30
    Hi, I bought a 2010 subaru forester in January 2010 and I went to start my AC on those hot muggy days last week and nothing. I had used it a couple of weeks ago or maybe a month now and it seemed to work fine but may have been that I was going over 60 and the air was coming in colder. But is anyone else experiencing this on the 2010 AT Premium X? I bearly have 9K on the car. Thought it could be the freon but isn't it too early to be replenishing that? I don't drive anywhere that I would have punctured something - I do city and highway driving - though some potholes can be like craters in NY.

    TIA, Silvia
  • mgoltramgoltra Posts: 2
    my 09 forester's a/c broke around 28K. Sprayed Freon all over my face and my wife's. Dealer said it was the condenser. It was replaced eventually but A/C is not the same, it doesn't get that cold.
  • nbg2nbg2 Posts: 1
    My air conditioner works well for a while, blowing very cold air. The, suddenly the compressor seems to shut off and only warm air is emitted. This seems to happen especially on hot days, and especially if I am headed downhill (i.e. when my engine is revving down). If I accelerate, raising RPMs, the compressor seems to kick back in. I can do this 5 or 6 times. Eventually, even that fails. Then I have to turn off the system and let it rest. About 10 minutes later I can restart the air conditioner, and it cools perfectly. I have 100,000 plus miles. I recently started using a phone charger in my cigarette lighter and recently had the head gasket changed. Could either of these two changes be responsible? A post I saw on this site mentioned something about an air conditioner clutch and another post mentioned a coolant temperature sensor. Does anyone have an opinion about my problem?
  • dahs10dahs10 Posts: 6
    When my air conditioner started acting like that, I had to have the computer module for the a/c replaced. Not cheap but after that the a/c worked fine.

    I'm still having problems with the car overheating when I run the a/c. I can turn it on but if I travel on the interstate when I get off, it starts to overheat. I've replaced the head gasket so I didn't expect this to happen again. Any ideas?
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