A/C compressor leaking oil from center of compressor body ?

JackC

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Make
Chev
Model
Maibu
Year
1998
Miles
100,020
Engine
3.1
I have had several drops of amber colored oil on my floor that appear to be coming from the center of the A/C compressor body .
The clutch pulley shaft seal and hoses and connections are dry. The oil seems to be coming from the center of the body directly above the word "caution".
Is there a joint or seal there? I can not tell with my fingernail or eyes. IMG_0597[1].JPG
 
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Mobile Dan

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Yes, the compressor body is kind of like a sandwich. The oil would be like Mayo squirting out between the meat and the bun.
Does your AC system have dye in it? If it does, then the oil may be engine oil leaking form the front edge of the valve cover. What color is your antifreeze? Sometimes people see coolant leaking, but they think it is oil. I think your water pump is above the compressor on that engine?
 

JackC

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Mobile Dan, Thanks for the ideas. Owned car since new. I wash engine every year, so it is easier to see leaks.
No dye in A/C., nothing ever done to A/C. Oil is light amber colored new looking, not the red Dex cool coolant. It is also lighter and clearer than the engine oil.
A/C gauges might show pressures are down. That could indicate an oil and refrigerant leak. But I do not happen to have gauges.
 

grcauto

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I don't think it's pag you are seeing. Verify pressures before going in there.
 

JackC

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grcauto:
I don't think it's pag you are seeing. Verify pressures before going in there.
I will. I sure hope you are right.

Even as cold as it is outside, I turned on the A/C today and the clutch works fine and A/C is very cold. So if it is leaking, it has not leaked a lot.
BTW, It has not leaked oil on the floor since sitting in the garage for 2 days.

But I can't figure out any other fluid that color and viscosity that could be dripping off the bottom of that compressor body.

BTW, the compressor is the most forward part of the total engine assy package on this vehicle.
 

nickb2

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Dear jack, I know we have had our differences, but yeah, putting a dye in there would be a nice helper. Less expensive than you think. Dye tracers are available cheap, you can make your own UV light.

 

billr

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Are you sure there is no dye? By '98 I think all GMs had dye right from the factory. Take off one of the service-port caps and use your UV light to peek in there.

I have a little bottle of dye, you are welcome to it (and to borrow the gauges), but getting the dye in may be tricky. I did it when the system was evacuated, but you don't to go that route just to add dye. Maybe there is some kind of a "syringe" tool that can provide enough pressure (>30 psig) to force it in the low-side when the compressor is running. Hey, in the early hours of the morning you may not even have to have the compressor running... Yes, Nickb2, it is "bitter" cold here now; down to 55F in the day.

No longer pertinent, I think, but I will add to the chorus: stop-leak in the PS system is probably useless, or worse. There were some stop-leaks that just had stuff incompatible with ATF; they would attack the seals and make them swell to provide temporary new sealing. However, it also softened the seals or even made them decompose, so the wear rate rapidly increased and leaks returned even worse.
 

Mobile Dan

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Pressure in an aerosol can is able to push in dye when low side pressure is low enough (engine running, AC turned on, compressor turning).
1641673408213.png
 

Mobile Dan

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If the leak is at the bottom of the compressor, and oil "rests at the bottom" on the inside of the compressor, oil might leak out without refrigerant loss.
Example...straw in a drinking cup...if you blow into the straw, no air bubbles in the water UNTIL you have pushed the water out of the bottom of the straw.
 

brcidd

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I lived this exact complaint. I worked in quality analysis at Delphi, specializing in a/c compressors. I'm here to tell you a/c dye went in the factory assembly plant compressors in 2002. Your leak is due to the fact that EPA requirements to control paint procedures etc at the factory have forced almost all OEM manufacturers to go to paintless, aluminum cast compressor bodies. There is a primary o-ring joint in your V-5 compressor. It is not a gasket compression seal as what was finally gone to in the next generation of variable compressors, the CVCs. The problem of "Belly Leakers" as we called them is due to the fact that salt spray etc and general corrosion crawls into the o-ring joint due to the fact, there is no paint to seal this area from external elements, and then it goes under the o-ring and causes divots that cause the refrigerant and oil to leak out.

I've probably rebuilt a thousand or more V-5, HT-6, H-6 compressors, saved their lives by pulling the body halves apart and cleaned and sanding/polishing down the sealing surfaces, so that new o-rings can be installed and that compressor will last another 10 years. I worked out of my garage for over 20 years doing this and many other types of repairs (tons of shaft seals) at home for anyone wanting to save money on compressor replacements.

Your compressor will eventually leak the entire charge out (system dead flat we called it) unless you do like most and keep adding refrigerant each year.
 

nickb2

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Your leak is due to the fact that EPA requirements to control paint procedures etc at the factory have forced almost all OEM manufacturers to go to paintless, aluminum cast compressor bodies. There is a primary o-ring joint in your V-5 compressor. It is not a gasket compression seal as what was finally gone to in the next generation of variable compressors, the CVCs. The problem of "Belly Leakers" as we called them is due to the fact that salt spray etc and general corrosion crawls into the o-ring joint due to the fact, there is no paint to seal this area from external elements, and then it goes under the o-ring and causes divots that cause the refrigerant and oil to leak out.
wow, that is and was a great explanation, you just said it better, thx. I dont know how to say belly leakers in french canadian, but yeah, i'll adopt that term from here on in.

;) :D:bat:
 

Mobile Dan

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Under some conditions, during normal A/C operation, condensation might form at the end of the compressor, causing exterior corrosion after years of good A/C performance. I've seen frost on plenty of suction lines...but I can't remember a time that I saw frost (or unexpected condensation) on any compressor. So, I am writing theory, not fact!
 

JackC

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brcidd: Thank you so very much for that information. Do new aftermarket compressors have better or no seals?? Could a cold weld (JB weld) be placed around that area??

I did release a tiny amount of refrigerant and discovered (with my uv light), just as you said, there is no dye in this unit.

I cleaned all around the compressor especially the oily cross-member under the compressor. I am 99% sure that it is belly leaker. I will watch for more oil at that joint and then will need to decide what to do.

I am too old (88) to want to DIY, so I may just add refrigerant as needed.

Having it repaired would require compressor, rec-dryer, etc. and labor and about $1,000 here in CA.
BTW, this car is in excellent shape except for this leak even though it is 23 years old with 100.020 miles.
 
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JackC

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Billr: Thanks for the offer of the gauges .
If and when, I can borrow them from O'Rielly Auto Parts which is only a few blocks from me.
 
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